News & Features » Miscellany

Police Supervision

Rosie Right

In the Feb. 22 issue, Rosie reported on some of the sins the Atlantic Magazine's Word Court considered offensive. One of these was free gift. The column inspired the following from a reader:

"I believe this phrase [free gift ] has a respectable pedigree.

"'For if the many died through the one man's trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many.'

"Paul's Epistle to the Romans 5:15

"New Revised Standard Version, 1989"

"This is the problem with becoming a word cop — quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

For those of us who are not so learned: Rosie believes he is telling us: "Who's watching the cops?"

The political season is truly here. Jargon is in, and phrases are picked up and repeated until the listeners are exhausted. (Or at least Rosie is.) One phrase that is beginning to irritate is at the end of the day. This seems to mean: "When all is said and done," or "When the action is over" or "At the conclusion." Wouldn't it be fun if the members of the media would use a variation or two? At the end of the day is joining breakaway republic as a verbal tic.

Speaking of jargon, World Wide Words ran a list of business jargon that is used in England. When you read the list, if you weren't convinced that we are in a global economy you are in denial.

Here are a few: low-hanging fruit, e-tailing, talk off-line, blue-sky idea, win-win situation, think outside the box, holistic approach.

Copy Editor newsletter calls attention to a problem that comes up often in writing. If we want to use two verbs with the same subject can we always leave out the second statement of the subject? The example given in the Copy Editor piece was:

"I'm going away this weekend and want you to come along." The editor of CEN says, "I don't believe I have ever worked with a copy editor who would allow [such a sentence] without either inserting the subject before the second predicate (I'm going away this weekend and I want you to come along) or breaking up the contraction (I am going away this weekend and want you to come along).

"I'm going ... and want you to come along strikes me as illogical. Worse, it can be jarring to the reader, who rightfully expects the second verb to follow the contraction (I'm want). In speech it probably goes unnoticed most of the time, the way errors of parallelism often do."

Add a comment