BeanQuest

April 25, 2006

A Few Corrections

Filed under: pedantry — Brian @ 7:35 pm

Hindsight is not 20/20. A person with “20/20 vision” can see, at 20 feet, what a “normal person” can see at 20 feet. “20/20 vision” is normal, not perfect. Hindsight is closer to 20/1, but that sounds like “21,” so maybe “hindsight is 20/10.” Or how about “gosh, it’s obvious, now that it’s already happened.”

When you “turn a blind eye (or a deaf ear) towards” something, you do not simply ignore it. You give the impression of paying attention without doing so. You’re looking at it but with an eye that cannot see. This is different from just plain ignoring it. You can ignore out of ignorance or inattention, but “turning a blind eye” requires some degree of trickery.

Just about everything that can be done is, I propose, “easier said than done.” See tautology.

Don’t say, “Eastern Standard Time” unless you mean it. And you probably don’t mean it, except by chance during winter. If you tell me the meeting is on April 25 at 11AM Eastern Standard Time, and you show up when the clock says 11:00, don’t be surprised if I’m not there.
Summer is “daylight time” in the Eastern time zone. (Now a valid blanket statement, since Indiana has finally relented)
Just say, “11:00.” Or, if the time zone is at all in question, say, “11:00 Eastern.” Leave it at that, and you’ll be understood at any time of the year. If you live in Arizona, be sure to explain the independent will of your legislators when scheduling meetings. If you live in Hawaii, please translate for your invitees. Nobody knows how far away you are out there.

“Decision” is a noun. “To decide” is the verb. Do not say, “we have to decision this request,” say, “we have to decide on this request.” (This is a new one on me, and I assure you I’m not making it up. It’s related by more than the rhyme to “provide” and “provisioning.” They use “provisioning” to mean “delivering to the mobile device the software it needs in order to access the service” — that is, “provisioning” is used where “providing” is meant. Like “use” and “utilize,” only much worse.) I can’t concentrate for a good long time after hearing one of these two.

Unless you’re reading a contract out loud, don’t ever say, “includes, but is not limited to,” or, “includes, without limitation…”. That’s what “include” means! If you want to say, “includes these and only these,” then the word you want is, “comprise.”

That is all.

For now.

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6 Comments »

  1. :-) Exactly! What we need is for people to say what they mean and mean what they say. Better yet, know what they mean. And simplify!

    The one I’ve heard way too much lately is “she’s doing the opportunity!” (in the context of starting up a business) What’s wrong with “she’s starting up a business?” I guess “business” is a bad word now. What-evah.

    Comment by Gwynne — April 26, 2006 @ 11:14 am

  2. Doing the opportunity? That’s a new one on me…must be a midwestern thing. It sounds sort of sleazy.

    I wrote contracts alongside attorneys for too many years to give up “includes, but is not limited to,” however. That phrase does have specific meaning in the legal arena.

    Comment by Eric — April 26, 2006 @ 4:28 pm

  3. simplify. I once saw something where the opposite of “simplify” was “complexify,” (and not “complicate”). “Complexify” immediately became my code word for “you’re talking like an idiot.”

    Eric, I know a lot of words that have a particular meaning to normal humans have a totally different one in the legal world. A certain kind of “relations” a former president “did not have … with that woman” comes to mind … about three-fourths of the way down here. I’ll abandon the legal arena to the lawyers. But in normal speech and non-contractual e-mails and such (where I’m starting to see it more and more)? My goodness. To “include” means “to contain as part of a whole” — nobody can honestly claim to believe that it means “this and nothing else.”

    Unless, of course, they’ve read too many contracts and are allowing the aforementioned reader to become confused by the overtly complexified and obfuscated language, terminology, verbiage and terms contained therein.

    Comment by Brian — April 26, 2006 @ 5:44 pm

  4. “Doing the opportunity” sounds especially sleazy in close proximity to the aforementioned former president (I’m not even going to capitalize that). And in all fairness, I’ve only heard this recent phrase in the context of Arbonne, a cosmetics company, so it is even more specific than the Midwest, but still.

    My philosophy is what goes in contracts stays in contracts. If it’s in the contract, it should be abided, but legalese should never enter our daily conversations.

    Comment by Gwynne — April 26, 2006 @ 6:34 pm

  5. I hereby defer to the party of the second part with respect to the aforementioned mentioning (unless otherwise stated hereinabove).

    Comment by Eric — April 26, 2006 @ 10:04 pm

  6. Exactumundo!

    Comment by Brian — April 27, 2006 @ 5:28 am


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