RE: To coin a phrase

Subject: RE: To coin a phrase
From: "Porrello, Leonard" <lporrello -at- illumina -dot- com>
To: 'Bill Swallow' <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 27 Oct 2011 21:23:15 +0000

"If only people would stick to hard, true definitions and terms and never, ever invent new ones..."

It's not the inventing of new terms or occasional misuse that I mind so much. For example, I have no problem using "functionality" to talk about software capabilities. The thing I find hard to stomach is when perfectly functional words and phrases are, through ignorance and sloth, unnecessarily transmogrified--especially in print.

On the other hand, I understand that diachronic change is inevitable, and at some level we all unwitting butt up against our own ignorance and thereby contribute to the phenomenon. Having studied philosophy, when I went to earn my MA in English I noticed that when trying to employ philosophical concepts, otherwise very intelligent and accomplished English scholars often grossly misused those concepts. Similarly, I am told by a friend who is a physics professor that in his experience philosophers generally misuse concepts from physics. I would suppose that this is the result of the Peter Principle at work, and it brings us back to Gene's regular assertions about the importance of domain knowledge in technical writing.

"Then again, this nutsy-cuckoo language world keeps me employed, so I'm not one to argue against the evolution/devolution of words and phrases."

An excellent point.


-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Swallow [mailto:techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com]
Sent: Thursday, October 27, 2011 1:59 PM
To: Porrello, Leonard
Cc: dana -at- campbellsci -dot- com; Combs, Richard; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: To coin a phrase

And you have the wonderful world of eggcorns that eventually become
mainstream, and abominations like "irregardless". If only people would
stick to hard, true definitions and terms and never, ever invent new
ones... Then again, this nutsy-cuckoo language world keeps me
employed, so I'm not one to argue against the evolution/devolution of
words and phrases.

On Thu, Oct 27, 2011 at 4:07 PM, Porrello, Leonard
<lporrello -at- illumina -dot- com> wrote:
> You have to admit, it is particularly strange and uncomfortable (at least for the literate or anyone paying attention) when common usage for a word or phrase evolves/devolves to mean exactly the opposite of what the word or phrase literally means. For example, "I could care less" (meaning, "I couldn't care less"), "literally" (meaning, "figuratively"), and "to coin a phrase"  (meaning, "in the current, cliché meaning of a term"). I would bet that there are many, many more. And then there is the "problem" of the double negative (for example, "I ain't done nothin'.")
>
> Of course, there are other phrases/ideas that have become so common that we don't even notice anymore. For example, we all believe that when we purchase something on sale, we "save money."
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: techwr-l-bounces+lporrello=illumina -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+lporrello=illumina -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Dana Worley (MVP/JB)
> Sent: Thursday, October 27, 2011 12:54 PM
> To: Combs, Richard
> Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: Re: To coin a phrase
>
> Really? You must live in a different world than I ;)  People around me
> use words incorrectly all the time, make up new words, make up new
> meanings. I'm sure I'm guilty of this too.
>
> As has been discussed, language evolves.
>
> Dana W.
>
> On 10/27/2011 1:48 PM, Combs, Richard wrote:
>> Unless you're Humpty Dumpty, you can't just use words to mean whatever you wish.
>
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--
Bill Swallow

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Re: To coin a phrase: From: Dana Worley
RE: To coin a phrase: From: Combs, Richard
Re: To coin a phrase: From: Dana Worley (MVP/JB)
RE: To coin a phrase: From: Porrello, Leonard
Re: To coin a phrase: From: Bill Swallow

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