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Professional Grade ... D

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Professional Grade ... D

Postby beck123 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:28 pm

I've often wondered why professional "verbalists," meaning those who are paid specifically to wield our language and not necessarily to create the meaning of the message, are so generally inept at their work.

Those who compose signs, commercials, scripts, presentations, speeches, newscasts, opinion columns, etc., seem unable to do their jobs consistently well. Shouldn't there be some professional licensing organization for these folks, so we won't have to be subjected to the work of their lesser members? Here in Florida, you have to pass a licensing exam to buff someone's toenails. But to be a professional copy-writer, there is no requirement to demonstrate competence.

I can understand a small business, run by someone who is less than cerebral in his use of language, turning to a professional to generate an advertisement. But when they end up paying for phrases like "...can wreck havoc on your...," it seems they should have some recourse.

I would exclude from fault anyone who is ad-libbing. Sportscasters today, for example, are paid primarily to make sure the broadcast of a sporting event is not too quiet. Continuous, ad libitum speech for two or three hours is going to generate an enormous amount of misspoken passages, so we feel it fair to exclude these folks from criticism in this post and focus on those who are paid to wield the language professionally - the wordsmiths. Those who are paid to cogitate and deliberate on the proper use of words, and who still get it wrong.
Beck

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Re: Professional Grade ... D

Postby Slava » Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:45 pm

beck123 wrote:I can understand a small business, run by someone who is less than cerebral in his use of language, turning to a professional to generate an advertisement. But when they end up paying for phrases like "...can wreck havoc on your...," it seems they should have some recourse.
Most times, as I understand it, the publisher merely takes the text from the advertiser. It's not their resposibility to protect the customer from looking illiterate. It would be nice, yes, and bigger places probably do so. However, for small businesses, the bigger places are astronomically expensive.
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Postby beck123 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:16 pm

I thought there may be an economic angle to the problem, and I admit I have no experience in that trade, but I still find it remarkable that not a single person in the production process notices "10 items or less" before thousands of signs are installed. We have one supermarket chain here that changed to "... or fewer:" nobody else has taken the hint.

Again, if somebody produces a hand-written sign with errors in it, so be it. They are earning their living through other gifts, no doubt. But when it's a professional wordsmith, I take offense.

"Bedroom suit" has taken permanent hold over the last few decades, and if you speak Southern, you know it doesn't mean pyjamas.
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Postby Slava » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:34 am

Sweet.

Then again, how's about our dearly beloved newspaper editors? When was the last time you saw a paper without major errors? Too much information, too fast, no time to think, etc.

Think? What's that?

I recall a cartoon of many years ago: a dozing employee at a desk, the sign on the wall behind him says, "THIMK."

Sic.
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Postby beck123 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 9:17 am

The role of newspaper "editors" in the Age of Spellcheck, particularly at the larger dailies, has been whittled down to political spokes-hack. I'm sure the editor of the Weekly Mullet Wrapper in Chokeadonkee, Florida still reads all the copy in each issue ("... Missy and Gomer Stiles will host their annual clam bash at the picnic table next to the Colonial RV Park's dumpster station on Sunday. They ask that you bring your own hand sanitizer and...",) but I doubt if that's happening at the major dailies any longer. There are probably underlings - copy editors? - who fill that role now. These latter may fit into the "ad-libbing" category, but I'm not familliar enough with the entirety of their job to make that judgement.

No matter who is responsible for the quality of the language in works meant for public consumption, they aren't doing their jobs well.
Beck

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Postby sluggo » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:21 pm

Here here! Your absolutely rite, Beck. An its a dam shame, to. Language at it's worst

:shock:

Somewhere else I already noted, there's a road sign using the local word for you-plural, spelled "ya'al" ...on both sides of the sign.

I noticed one particular Whole Foods sign actually read "10 items or fewer", and noted my approval to the cashier. She looked at me like I was an ink stain.

I still blame Miller Beer for if not originating, at least exacerbating the misuse of less and fewer.
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Postby beck123 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 3:29 pm

There are a few commercials out there lately (and they may be limited to my area) where the copy-writer gets all balled up matching the verb to the subject when speaking about a company, particularly if the CEO is voicing the commercial: "Barr's Tool have always placed the customer first..."

He obviously wants to say "We at Barr's Tool have...," or, identifying himself with the company, "I have always...," but that isn't what makes it out over the airwaves.

Also, short commercials, news, and weather spots (in which one would expect the efficient use of language) are frequently choked with verbal encrustations. "In order to provide..." in place of "To provide...;" "rain shower activity" in place of "rain;" "Planning for the future..." and on and on.
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Postby beck123 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 3:32 pm

And that's "worsest," Sluggo, not "worst." We're trying to set an example here, fer cryin' out sideways.
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Postby skinem » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:23 pm

Preachin' to the choir, Beck, preachin' to the choir.

I've gotten to be on a first name basis with the producers and reporters of our local news media due to the numerous emails to them on my behalf concerning everything from factual incorrectness to grammar...it's getting worse.

My favorite (which I posted years ago somewhere on this forum) was the supermarket remodel in which the professionally made aisle signs listing contents listed "incontinents"...

Sigh...
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Postby sluggo » Sat Jan 30, 2010 5:01 pm

beck123 wrote: "Barr's Tool have always placed the customer first..."

He obviously wants to say "We at Barr's Tool have...," or, identifying himself with the company, "I have always...," but that isn't what makes it out over the airwaves.


But it wouldn't raise an eyebrow in UK English, while the reverse would.

beck123 wrote: "In order to provide..." in place of "To provide...;" "rain shower activity" in place of "rain;" "Planning for the future..." and on and on.


Ah, the George Carlin rant. If you haven't seen this, enjoy. I think my favourite, "immediate seating area" comes up in part 2. "Shower activity" and "rain event" were some others. Anyway a worthy rant.
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Postby beck123 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 5:05 pm

Well, wait a minute. They may have been onto something. 'just Depends.
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Postby beck123 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 5:11 pm

beck123 wrote:Ah, the George Carlin rant.


Sheesh. Some dead person always beats me to the good stuff.
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Postby saparris » Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:50 pm

I am old enough to remember the furor over the advertising slogan, "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should." My point is that advertisers have never paid much attention to good usage, and it's getting worse.

The reason, I think, is that we place little value on good communication. All we need do is look at the salary scales in almost any career and compare them to those in education, and we should be able to understand what we hold dear.

And with the exception of those who are employed in the language arts, we don't even teach good English in our schools.

What can we expect!
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Postby beck123 » Sun Jan 31, 2010 4:57 pm

saparris wrote:I am old enough to remember the furor over the advertising slogan, "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should."


I remember that "like-as" kerfuffle, too. I'm ashamed to admit that it's one rule I've never secured in my memory. Give us the short version, if you would, and I'll try again.

...we place little value on good communication. All we need do is look at the salary scales in almost any career and compare them to those in education, and we should be able to understand what we hold dear.


I don't agree that we don't value well-used language. Most value it as far as it's ability to communicate information and, less often, thoughts. Almost nobody (and that includes teachers) places a monetary value on the "correctness" of a communicated item. Advertisers and their clients place a montary value on the effect of the communication, not its correctness. If "Eet Mo' Chikin" on a billboard sells more chicken, the communication is worth its cost to the client. It has value. If people refuse to shop at stores because they display "10 items or less" signs, then the language becomes valuable in the sense that you used when invoking teachers' salaries - monetary value. I imagine that even we wordaholics wouldn't go so far as to boycott an enterprise becasue it has made a grammatical error. So what we hold dear (meaning valuable) is the ability to increase our resources - a fitting priority for all living things - not to cleave to the moving target of someone's idea of the perfect language. Language is primarily a means, not an end.

If we all spoke our language perfectly, our language would never change. But the case is that every day there are millions of challenges to the "perfect" form of our language, and some will become mainstream over time, because language evolves to meet the needs and fancies of its users.
Beck

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Postby saparris » Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:02 pm

I remember that "like-as" kerfuffle, too. I'm ashamed to admit that it's one rule I've never secured in my memory. Give us the short version, if you would, and I'll try again.


Like is generally a preposition (like a rock) or an adverb (like new). As is a subordinate conjunction that usually precedes a clause (as in, "as a cigarette should").

However, the line between like and as is becoming increasingly blurred.

I don't agree that we don't value well-used language. Most value it as far as it's ability to communicate information and, less often, thoughts.


I can understand advertisers and marketeers misusing English for a cute or memorable effect. Unfortunately, they also misuse it because they don't know better.

Then, again, neither do most folks, and I don't think anyone has died because of a grammatical error.
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