Tuesday, April 19, 2005

COM: Pet Peeve #891

Okay, it's making up words because you don't know the correct one.

It's one thing to do it in a student paper, but lately these things are everywhere. Where's an editor who knows English? What's worse is how these words worm their way into the language when their use becomes common, as some of my examples already have. I'm certainly not against new words, or for a dynamic language, but let's add words that ADD something to the language, not ones that simply reflect ignorance of a word that properly does the job.

Here's the recent culprits:

Orientated (used in an online article in a professional journal!). This has acutally been around a long, long time, but it still grates every time i hear it.

From Englishplus.com

Sometimes people in their speech will form an imagined verb from orientation and
say orientate. There is no such word as orientate. The correct word is the verb orient.

But if you Google "orientate" and use the definition link you get:
The verb orientate has one meaning: Meaning #1: determine one's position with reference to another point. Synonym: orient

Aargh! Can you beat Google? I don't know, but use "orient" anyway -- it's the correct word.

Number two this week is Gifted as a verb. As in "He gifted her with a diamond ring."

While this actually does have a nuanced meaning different that the proper "He gave her a diamond ring," it has a pompous and insincere ring to it when the purpose is the opposite.

Apparently, both the Oxford and Webster's Dictionaries allow this usage, although it is usually in reference to a bequeathment. In any case, as I've pointed out before, the usage, at least in American English, is affected and has the sound to me of insincerity opposite to its intent. Use "gave" - it works.

The third was in a wire service story, and was in a direct quote. While an editor might choose to leave a quoted word alone, the speaker was a mathematician. The word was Tabularize.

Again, maybe i'm just an old fuddy-duddy, but when the word "tabulate" does the job why complicate things.

Lastly, and the most grating of all the fingernails-on-chalkboard words of the week is one i've never heard before, again from a wire service story -- Conversate. Like all the others, it's easy to see how this is derived, but please, you converse in a conversation, not conversate. Or maybe you just talk. Lord help us someone would learn to communicate!

And just in case i blew it, and someone wants to quibble, the difference between "its" and "it's" is a Pet Peeve of mine, but mainly because i constantly get them backwards and have to double check every single one. I think my problem is that the addition of apostrophe-s makes everything else possessive except in this one case. So it's always biting me from behind.


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