Summit Up 12-6-09
Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column convinced we can persuade readers to use more accurate language.
While many English teachers, avid readers and conscientious citizens use proper wording when framing their thoughts, too many people frequently make mistakes.
And it irritates us to no end.
We’ll start off with the one term nearly everybody butchers: “convince.”
One is not convinced to smoke cigarettes. This is a matter of persuasion.
One may be convinced that cigarettes are harmful.
As the Associated Press puts it: “You may be convinced that something or of something. You must be persuaded to do something.”
We are sick and tired of hearing about how our neighbor was convinced to move away or how it took some convincing to get the bartender to serve you another drink.
We suspect that “persuade” has developed a connotation likened to “coercion,” which is considerably more forceful – a twisting of one’s arm, if you will.
Persuasion may involve reasoning with a person to get them to do what you want.
Use of “convince” in place of “persuade” is always incorrect and we politely ask those of you who have been using the wrong word to please consider following the damn rules.
Next up, we’re pretty fed up with people who like to refer to other people as objects.
Observe this sentence:
“I truly enjoy spending time with people that bathe at least once per day.”
There is a glaring error in that sentence: “That” should be “who.”
People on the TV news make this mistake all the time and it turns our stomach even more than the previous grammar boo-boo.
Finally, people frequently use the term “whether or not.”
What is the relevance of the “or not?”
“I couldn’t decide whether or not to touch the terrier.”
“I couldn’t decide whether to touch the terrier.”
The latter is correct, concise and clearly the better sentence.
So there you have it: our three tips to get more people speaking properly.
Feel free to use these gems of truth in all circumstances that involve English communication.
Feel free to swat, scold or shout at the poor fools who fail to communicate properly.
It will do us all a favor, and perhaps one day we may all speak in flawless terms the tongue of our own language.
Regardless of how much our words impress you, we – like the rest of the humans – are known to make mistakes.
Though it happens rarely, we’ve been known to run a typo or homonym that causes the ardent reader to crumple the page in disgust.
We spell-check every story, but even that doesn’t guarantee clean copy.
Take this contribution from Steve Smith with RightPath Investments and Financial Planning in Frisco:
“Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea,
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight for it two say,
Weather eye and wring oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long,
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.
To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should bee proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaw’s are knot aloud.
Eye have run this poem threw it
Your sure reel glad two no,
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.”
Thanks, Steve! That was real clever.
If anyone cares to send language tips or other worthwhile tidbits to be published in future Summit Ups, e-mail them to email@example.com.
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