12/21/2007

Don't use 'taze' with me, sir (or madam)

Mr. Rewrite cringes when he reads, "Don't tase me, bro!" which tops the Yale Book of Quotations' list of the top utterances of 2007. "Tase" is one verb Mr. Rewrite doesn't want to see in his dictionary, much as he applauds the evolution of our language. But if it's in a quote from a cop or someone being subdued, you have to deal with it. So let's decide how we'll handle all things Taser ...

Taser is a trade name for a device that subdues with an electric shock. A Taser comes from TASER International Inc. (TASER is an acronym for Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle, by the way). Because Taser is trade name, you capitalize it just as you're supposed to capitalize Dumpster or Jacuzzi (see here for a list of trade names, some of them surprising). Even though the company uses all capital letters in its name, Mr. Rewrite goes with "Taser" because that's Associated Press style.

A stun gun isn't necessarily a Taser. If you aren't certain, call it a stun gun.

Mr. Rewrite strongly recommends against using any form of Taser as a verb (i.e. "I shall tase you, young ruffian!"). If you must: (1) make sure you're dealing with a real Taser; (2) capitalize Taser; and (3) don't misspell it as "Tazer" or "taze" (the blogosphere is lousy with these). Mr. Rewrite thought a bit about recommending capitalization of "tase" because of the trade name issue, but AP doesn't do it.

Mr. Rewrite was stunned to see how many articles on Google News misspell forms of Taser as: Tazer or tazer; tazered; taze; tazed; tazes; and tazing.

If you need a verb, Mr. Rewrite suggests "stunned with a Taser" or "subdued with a stun gun."

Mr. Rewrite can't bear the thought of little Rewrite Jr. coming home from school one day saying, "I got tased by the hall monitor." Let's all work hard to prevent that.


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