Monday, October 02, 2006

Alleged words

I'm mounting the soapbox with my language police uniform on. It's somewhat dusty and a tad tight. Though far more lax than the average copyeditor, even The Editrix gets riled with those who take too many liberties with the English language.

Incident No. 1
"Decider" did not bother me overmuch as a coined word. Partly, because Dick Francis used it as a book title in 1993, long before Shrub stirred up the word mavens last spring. Also, importantly, "decider" follows an understandable English language logic: The suffix -er signifies "one who" (among other things). As in, baker, one who bakes; candlestick maker, one who makes candlesticks. Simple, easy to apply, even for eight year-olds.

But recently on weather.com, I saw a link for an "Explainer." Turns out, this is weather.com's tag word for a background story.

My word: Fie.

Fie on you, lazy marketing types. Fie on you, editorial dweebs in search of hipness. "Explainer" is clunky and plain lazy. It grates. It does not make any linguistic sense. The alleged word is not shorthand for one who explains; it is shorthand, I gather, for a story that gives background on hurricanes. For crying out loud, just call it a backgrounder and stop mucking up my day.


Incident No. 2
Normally, my wonderful associate editor Blondie writes well. Imaginative, generally clear, if not quite concise enough (but that will come).

Every once in a while, I think Blondie wants to see if I'm paying attention.

Like when I get a sentence from her with the alleged word "congrue" in it.

Yes, there are many verbs I now accept that once upon a time were only nouns : IMing, Googling, texting. I can even live with "plutoed." Truth be told, that's clever--and easily understood. Unlike congrue, or explainer.

Incident No. 3
I discovered this wonderful new word at BuzzWhack: Targasm. See, I'm not a complete stick-in-the-mud. Language evolution can be fabulous.

1 comment:

Angry Gay Mike said...

Wahahahaha Brilliant as always.

I'm no editor but I agree with you on all points here.

As for "Targasm" that word needs to come with a Surgeon General's warning about the dangers it poses to one's financial health. ;-)