random reflections on language

Here are some random and unrelated reflections on language and usage that I’ve been collecting over the past several months.

  • “What I have to say” is ambiguous and relies on context. It can either mean “What I am going to say,” or “What I need to say.”
  • From a reputable distributor of digital versions of well-known, popular magazines: “Renew now and receive a $5 credit good towards the purchase of any magazines!” Come on. Please!
  • From the Web page of a respected, influential religious publication on how to get the digital version of their magazine: “Amazon and Sony handle subscriptions to the Kindle and Reader editions, respectfully.” I’m sure that both Amazon and Sony are respectful of their customers, but that obviously wasn’t the intent here.
  • As the Boston lockdown was ending and the younger brother in the Boston Marathon bombings was being taken into custody, I switched from CNN, which was reaching new, Fox News-like lows in their coverage, to CBS. The anchor on CBS kept referring to the “last suspect” now being in custody. There were only two suspects. “The other suspect” or the “remaining suspect.” Last implies more than two.
  • “Fail” as a noun. I usually see this on Facebook where someone is commenting on a link or an image they are sharing: For example, confusing Chechnya with the Czech Republic would be “Geography fail.” Really reaching to come up with a conspiracy theory might be “Logic fail.” The magazine subscription offer I cited would be “Grammar fail.” Maybe this is a fad and will disappear. I suspect not, however.

Those are some random language and usage reflections, for whatever they’re worth.


3 Comments on “random reflections on language”

  1. Peggy S says:

    Hi mike, “towards” is acceptable in British usage (as is whilst). Was this in a Brit mag?

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