Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Company Writes!

We've accepted "the company said" as shorthand for "an official-looking press release said." And some people skip the spokesperson.

But today, CNN.com had this:

"Thus, when considering even the most distant Facebook user in the Siberian tundra or the Peruvian rainforest, a friend of your friend probably knows a friend of their friend," Facebook wrote in a blog post about its findings.

It seems weird in the extreme to have a company write. "Said/says" has become neutral in terms of the mechanism, but "wrote/writes" is still very mechanical. And companies don't have fingers.

It would have been better as "Facebook said" or "a Facebook blog post said."

And given that the post in question (on Facebook, not on a blog, so "online post") has a byline:

by Facebook Data Team

the text could have easily read, "the Facebook Data Team said." It wouldn't have been as jarring if it were "The Facebook Data Team wrote." it's not *really* any different from "Facebook wrote," but it's better, because the data team will absolutely be made up of people. But Facebook is not; it's made up of shareholders, employees, etc.

Does "Facebook wrote" or "IBM wrote" or "Universal Pictures wrote" bother you?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Greenfield or Green Field

From a CNN story

Much as I've tried to tame my network, it feels more like a hydra or the carnivorous plant from 'Little Shop of Horrors' than the calm and orderly information drag net that I thought I was weaving," wrote Alexis Madrigal, an editor at The Atlantic, in a post titled "Google+: In praise of starting over."

"I needed a greenfield in which to grow a different network."

And from Wikipedia's Greenfield Project entry (no citations, though):

In many disciplines a greenfield is a project that lacks any constraints imposed by prior work. The analogy is to that of construction on greenfield land where there is no need to remodel or demolish an existing structure. Such projects are often coveted by engineers.

In wireless engineering jargon, a greenfield is a project which lacks any constraints imposed by prior networks.


A Greenfield Investment is the investment in a manufacturing, office, or other physical company-related structure or group of structures in an area where no previous facilities exist. [1] [2] The name comes from the idea of building a facility literally on a "green" field, such as farmland or a forest. Over time the term has become more metaphoric.

What's wrong with "green field"?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Like vs. As

Oops--hyper correctness!

Catch this:

Just as the Swiss Army knife, the smartphone succeeds in some occasions and fails in others.

Pogue's Posts: The Latest in Technology from David Pogue, the July 7, 2011, column for that blog on the New York Times website; a guest post from Nasahn Sheppard, director of industrial design at Smart Design, the company that designed the Flip camcorder

That should be, "Just like the Swiss Army knife." When what follows is a noun, it's a straight comparison using "like."

I'd rather live with "like" as a substitute for "as" (I've done so at times), but "as" should never be used for "like."

(I'm guessing this is a half-done correction.)

Friday, June 10, 2011


From a post on CNN.com, about Haiti's potential new prime minister:

Hundreds of thousands of those people are still eeking out existances in makeshift camps.

The verb is "eke" (though having to "eke out an existence" is enough to make anyone say "Eeks!"). It's a great crossword-puzzle word; in fact, it was in the crossword puzzle I did yesterday, the first one in months. (Funny how a word just seems to pop up everywhere, in clusters.) I think the gerund form threw this writer off. It should be "eking," which does look a little funny.

But it does make me wonder--where is the auto spell check? It--and the editors--missed "existance."

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Dictionary Diving

I had this wrong! If I'd actually *studied* Latin along w/ The Girl, I'd know, right?

We were using the Latin term "cum," and I wanted to suggest not using it. i was going to argue, "it means 'turned into,' and our bride is still a blogger."

So, I looked it up. And it means "with," of course. (Duh!)

I've interpreted it wrong, all along. Or, people have been using it wrong. In "model cum actress," I've always assumed (or perhaps it has been the case, in instances I've paid attention to) that the "model" identity was left behind (model-cum-actress Farrah Fawcett may still have modeled, but that was now subservient to her actress role).

What did you use wrong, all along?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Today's Cool Dictionary  Fact

I'm looking up the phrase "to a T." It appears in all caps, in a head so no period at the end. Put those together, and it's really hard to read:


See what I mean?

Trying to find a solution that wouldn't involve rewriting on the editor's part, I was thinking, "tee" is OK for "T-shirt," but why do I think it's a bad substitute here?

So, I looked up "T."  Natch.  And found this:

short for "to a tittle"

A few thoughts surface. The first is that "tee" is not really commonly used to substitute for the alphabet letter, and I don't like it here. We've already shortened "tittle" to "T"; shortening it yet again is annoying to me.  However, when you look up "tee," you find: "to a tee."

So, a minor poll: which would you do--change to "tee"? Or ask for a rewrite?

And, "tittle." Yay!

We have an album at home w/ the score for the Syracuse University production of "Wind in the Willows," on which the judge thunders that Toad will be in jail "until the last jot and tittle of his sentence" is fulfilled.

Here's the definition: a point or small sign used as a diacritical mark in writing or printing. Its second meaning, which is the one I had thought of always is "a very small part."

(its original meaning makes "the last jot and tittle of his sentence" a pun!!!)

I wonder whether it meant a *specific* shape, and if so, which one?

Don't you think you can start using this word? When you're routing proofs, and talking about proofreaders' marks?

What fun thing have you found in the dictionary lately?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Comma, No Comma

Here's today's, from copy describing dresses:

in simple, floor-skimming styles

Your vote?