Thursday, December 20, 2007

Jargon rears its ugly head ...

... but it's funny. One of my henchmen recently ran across a site that touts its new software as very useful for "backupping." Oh, come on. There's a perfectly good phrase--backing up--that has served several generations of technology users. What's the point of a word like "backupping"? It's ugly, doesn't work, and makes the perpetrator of the phrase look silly.

Another of my spies has found a perfectly lovely misplaced modifier that made me laugh:

"His last billed part was in 1956, though he appeared in an uncredited bit part after his death." I'll bet his performance was a little stiff, though.

I found another in a publication I'd been asked to work on:

"This set of instructional materials is very useful for teachers with children." But what about childless teachers? Might they find the materials helpful in their classrooms, too?

These are cute little object lessons that illuminate a bigger point. In careful speaking and writing, the details matter. Really. Read. And then read again.

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