Thursday, February 01, 2007

Shut Up and Talk--
A colleague sent a clip from an academic website that lists its latest banned words. It reminded me what I don't like about us (technical writers): We forget sometimes that language is about talking to each other, not setting up obstacles to the same. Some entries and my rebuttals:

NOW PLAYING IN THEATERS -- Heard in movie advertisements. Where can we see that, again?"How often do movies premiere in laundromats or other places besides theaters? I know that when I want to see a movie I think about going to a shoe store." -- Andrea May, Shreveport, Louisiana. (Mike: How about cable and network TV? Andrea apparently hasn't seen a movie since 1931)

ARMED ROBBERY/DRUG DEAL GONE BAD -- From the news reports. What degree of "bad" don't we understand? Larry Lillehammer of Bonney Lake, Washington, asks, "After it stopped going well and good?" (Mike: Generally refers to the part where people started getting killed. It's called gone bad because it was not part of the original plan. Notice, Larry, it never says "murder gone bad.")

ASK YOUR DOCTOR -- The chewable vitamin morphine of marketing."Ask your doctor if 'fill in the blank' is right for you! Heck, just take one and see if it makes you 'fill in the blank' or get deathly ill." -- R.C. Amundson, Oakville, Washington. (Mike: R.C., it means it's a prescription drug. Last time I checked, just taking one on your own was illegal.)

i-ANYTHING -- 'e-Anything' made the list in 2000. Geoff Steinhart of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, says tech companies everywhere have picked this apple to the core. "Turn on…tune in…and drop out.""Banish any word that starts with it. i am just tired of it. it's getting old. -- Brad Butler, Adrian, Michigan. (Mike: diot!)

HEALTHY FOOD -- Point of view is everything.Someone told Joy Wiltzius of Fort Collins, Colorado, that the tuna steak she had for lunch "sounded healthy." Her reply: "If my lunch were healthy, it would still be swimming somewhere. Grilled and nestled in salad greens, it's 'healthful.'" (Mike: Want to guess that was the last time Joy got asked to lunch?)

Hey, folks, relax. People are communicating here. I'll end with my pet peeve: folks whose pet peeve is using nouns as verbs, ala to google someone or task someone to do something. It's a normal construction in our language. We iron our clothes, bicycle around the park, book criminals, table discussions, etc.

Here is a useful rule of thumb: If you understood what someone said well enough to know right away you disagree with how they said it, they must have said it pretty good. ;-)

2 comments:

Andrea said...

Here is a useful rule of thumb: If you understood what someone said well enough to know right away you disagree with how they said it, they must have said it pretty good. ;-)

Apparently Mike hasn't been in English class since 1931. Statements are not made "pretty good". Statements are not made "good". Statements are made "well".

Britannia said...

Great work.