i.e. and e.g.: You’re not writing in Latin, so why are you using them?

i.e. and e.g.: What are they? Why do we use them? What do they mean? And why don’t we just get rid of them?

Click, that is, use the button on your mouse, for more

Posted in Culture, Grammar, Language, Punctuation, Things you should know, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Has “Jumped the Shark” Jumped the Shark?

A specific (mis-)use of language smacked me upside the head (…figuratively…) recently and it deserves coverage here.

Do you know the phrase “jumped the shark?” Many of us do. But someone apparently doesn’t, because he used it to mean something entirely opposite its accepted meaning.

Click here to jump the shark. No, just kidding, this is more of a ‘click and carry on’ thing.

Posted in Culture, Language, Things you should know | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Were they really enabled to be able to say that?

It’s only June, but I’ve already come across a clear front-runner for this year’s “worst sentence to make it into print.”*

Cooper said Massachusetts law and regulation prohibit retailers from passing their bulk buy discount to consumers, and that Total Wine & More will “seek a change in both statute and regulation to be able to enable all retailers to be able to pass those discounts on.”

This comes to us via the State House News Service in Massachusetts and appeared in several local newspapers, but we can’t hold the publisher responsible. This seems to be a direct quote from some kind of press release.

It’s nice to take the bull by the horns, and work to put yourself into a position where you’ll be able to enable someone to be able to do something. But in this case, I think we could have hoped for much simpler phrasing, perhaps along the lines of:

will “seek a change in both statute and regulation enabling retailers to pass those discounts on.”

For that matter, I think “allowing” would be a better verb choice. All that abling and enabling is just legalese and doublespeak, quite literally (or is it triplespeak in this case?).

But that’s no surprise as the source is part of a lobbying effort for not just a single industry but a single business, unhappy with existing laws. They might have a point that certain aspects of current regulation need updating, but when their goal is gaining the ability to sell alcoholic beverages below cost, their efforts need close scrutiny. Being able to see through murky language to understand exactly what’s being said is part of how you do that.

(*I don’t actually keep lists of things like “worst sentence to make it into print” but no one’s keeping score.)

Posted in Culture, Grammar, Language | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Disperse vs. Disburse

As an editor, you’re exposed to all kinds of weird language use: convoluted sentence structures, idiosyncratic punctuation, unique and unorthodox uses of the formatting features in a word processor. You name it, it’s there.

One oddity you’ll always encounter is the use of one word when another is meant. The typical notation for this for a lot of editors is ww for “wrong word.”

Click to see which word he’s going on about this time…

Posted in Language, Things you should know, Words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

American Religiolect: Christianese / Evangelicalese

There was an interesting short feature on PRI’s The World radio program several weeks ago about religious language which is very much worth sharing.

Readers of this blog probably recognize that new and interesting words catch my interest. I’m often very happy to learn a new word, especially it if serves a useful purpose or has interesting origins. This story gave me a double dose, introducing me to a word I didn’t know (Christianese) and a concept I wasn’t familiar with (religiolect).

If you share my fascination with words and ideas, you’ll relate when I say that this was like getting ready to put on the water for my morning cup of tea–and instead finding a mocha latte with two extra shots of espresso already waiting.
Click for your double shot

Posted in Culture, Grammar, Language, Things you should know, Words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment