2/16/2008

Going forward, please stop saying going forward

Just when he's gotten over 2,400-plus botched spellings of Valentine's Day (Valentines) by those paid to know better, Mr. Rewrite has another worry: Presidents/Presidents' Day. Mr. Rewrite doesn't care whether you call it Presidents Day or Presidents' Day. Just don't call it President's Day. There was just one St. Valentine, but we have more than one president to honor Monday. The AP Stylebook uses Presidents Day. The New York Times and Mr. Rewrite's almanac call it Presidents' Day. Hundreds of articles indexed by Google News refer to it erroneously as President's Day.

Should Mr. Rewrite be concerned that WhiteHouse.gov's kids section has "President's Day" as the title of its page on the holiday?

Here's what's in Mr. Rewrite's mailbox this week:

1)
Going forward, Tom in Texas wants you to stop using the phrase going forward. "I'm not sure when or where it started, but over the last year its use in public discussion (and private) has skyrocketed," he says. Tom thinks going forward caught on as wonks talked about U.S. strategy in Iraq. Mr. Rewrite also thinks it's a bit of bureaucratic puffery, but his guess is it started in some company's annual report. Companies love words that sound meaningful yet are vague. Here's a good rant on CNET.com about Oracle suits saying going forward. A highlight:
Maybe it's the MBA version of Tourette's Syndrome but can't these guys deliver a presentation without stuffing the speech with all the mind-numbing "going forwards?" What do they think the audience expects--that they'll learn how to go backwards?
Mr. Rewrite agrees that "going forward" is a step backward for good English. But this one might be here to stay. Nearly 20,000 articles on Google News make use of going forward. Yeesh.

2)
Have you heard of The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks? It's now one of Mr. Rewrite's favorites. It gets a writeup in this Wired News piece.

3)
Mr. Rewrite loves this letter to the editor flaming the local paper for publishing an article about a man's enflamed liver. Unless the liver burst into flames, it was inflamed.

4) Here's a little ditty accusing journalists of frequently writing populace when they mean populous. Mr. Rewrite finds just one reference on Google News to populace nation. He's linked each word above to Dictionary.com in case you find them confusing.

5) What on earth is going on in Barrie, Ontario? This article describes how one woman's 40 years of pain over a street misspelling her family's name flushed out a number of other misspelled streets in that community.

6) They're having the same problem across the pond. Here's an article (and picture) crying foul over a misspelled road sign in the U.K.

7)
From the Freudian Slip Files, this article says Reuters filed an article misspelling Barack Obama's last name as Osama. There's a link to what is said to be a version of the article before it was corrected. Mr. Rewrite encourages everyone, especially those paid to get it right, to check each proper noun before publishing.

8) Here's a column in which The Associated Press stands by its use of e-mail instead of email. Mr. Rewrite is happy to stick with e-mail.


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