1/26/2008

Here's hoping they served treats of meat

Making the above even scarier: It's posted at a university. Yikes. Mr. Rewrite hopes they had a great breakfast.

It's time to clean out the virtual mailbox ...

1) A special note for Tom in Texas: Mr. Rewrite will effort the issuance of an impactful blog that optimally leverages his bandwidth. Tom, a fellow fan of Bryan A. Garner (cue angelic chorus), passed along a marvelous tip o' the day from BG trashing "impactful," an especially wretched morsel of bureaucratese. "Impactful is barbarous jargon dating from the mid-1970s," it begins. Stick with "powerful" or "influential," BG advises. Mr. Rewrite cried into his Cheerios upon seeing more than 200 uses of impactful in articles indexed by Google News. Yeesh.

Keep up the fight, Tom. Mr. Rewrite invites you to utilize this blog to effect desired outcomes.

2) Mr. Rewrite enjoyed this Chicago Tribune columnist's take on the losing battle of getting folks to use lie/lay properly.
I blame the defeat of "lie" on the rise of yoga. Or maybe yoga class is simply where I've accepted recently that it's time for purists like me (purists such as me? such as I?) to surrender. "Lay down on your backs for bridge pose." "Lay down on your bellies for cobra pose." I've heard yoga teachers say those things thousands of times. And thousands of times I've wanted to shout, "No!" I've wanted to leap up and explain that "to lie" is to recline, "to lay" is to place. You lay your yoga mat on the floor. Then you lie down.
Her column summing up reader reaction is another worthwhile read, hitting on the uneasiness Mr. Rewrite feels saying "data are" when he knows that most people think it's incorrect. The columnist's take: "Therein lies the grammar stickler's conundrum: What's the good of being right if most people think you're wrong?" Well, just about the only thing Mr. Rewrite is ever right about is data being plural.

3) The Associated Press has updated its stylebook to require noncombat and noncombatant rather than the hyphenated forms of each. AP's general rule is no hyphen if you can substitute "not" before the base word and achieve the same meaning (e.g. nonprofit).

4) The classifieds require proofreading too. A poor woman in Michigan received dozens of angry calls after her ad offering a horse for sale was placed erroneously under "Good Things to Eat."

5) Mr. Rewrite enjoys following the (new) legal writer, which alerted him to a Harvard business professor's interesting take on Warren Buffett's success as an investor:
[M]ost important, I believe you need to be a good writer. Look at Buffett; he's one of the best writers ever in the business world. It's not a coincidence that he's also one of the best investors of all time. If you can’t write clearly, it is my opinion that you don't think very clearly. And if you don't think clearly, you're in trouble. There are a lot of people who have genius IQs who can't think clearly, though they can figure out bond or option pricing in their heads.
6) Spelling errors tend to stick around when they're made in official documents. This article explains how it took years for someone to notice and correct the spelling of Hanby Creek in New Jersey. It was supposed to be named after Mr. Hanby, but someone, probably a careless bureaucrat, spelled it Henby Creek.

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