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Claudia Imhoff

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About the author >

A thought leader, visionary, and practitioner, Claudia Imhoff, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert on analytics, business intelligence, and the architectures to support these initiatives. Dr. Imhoff has co-authored five books on these subjects and writes articles (totaling more than 150) for technical and business magazines.

She is also the Founder of the Boulder BI Brain Trust, a consortium of independent analysts and consultants (www.BBBT.us). You can follow them on Twitter at #BBBT

Editor's Note:
More articles and resources are available in Claudia's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

 

We communicate mainly by words -- whether spoken or written. Everyone slips up occasionally when speaking but to do so in written form is a major negative. I admit it -- reading poorly written or misworded documents just makes me crazy... (It comes from my childhood -- my Mom always corrected my grammar)

So to save my sanity and to perhaps improve overall communications between people, I offer up this blog based on Jody Gilbert's two articles on the topics of grammatical and wording mistakes "that make you look stupid."

Last year, Jody Gilbert wrote an excellent article titled "10 flagrant grammar mistakes that make you look stupid." If you don't know when to use one word or the other, then read the article:

1. Loose versus lose -- Loose change versus lose my mind (a short trip sometimes).
2. It's for its -- think apostrophe for missing letter (It is to It's).
3. They're for their -- I admit it -- this one seems hard to mix up but I guess people do.
4. i.e. for e.g. -- These two are mixed up all the time. These are Latin terms -- i.e. means "that is" and e.g. means "for example."
5. Effect for affect -- another common error -- effect is a noun; affect is a transitive verb unless you are talking about someone's belongings (their affects).
6. You're for your -- see number 3
7. Different than for different from -- This one is easy -- never use different than.
8. Lay for lie -- Lay is to place something; lie is to recline. You don't lay down and you don't lie a book on the table...
9. Then for than -- Then refers to a time frame; than is a comparative word.
10. Could of, would of, should of for could have, would have, should have -- Bottom line, you never put of after these verbs.

Now on to this year's entry. Jody Gilbert struck again with "10 wording blunders that make you look stupid".

1. All intensive purposes -- yikes! Do people really use this term instead of "for all intents and purposes"?
2. Comprise -- nothing is comprised of something. For example, a correct sentence is "the team comprised seven people". Comprise is misused so much that we have actually come to think that "comprised of" is correct. Use "consisted of" if you must use the "of".
3. Heighth -- There is no such word. The word is height not heighth -- unlike its sister words, width or length. Don't you just love English?
4. Supposably -- yes, this one gets me going. The correct term is "supposedly".
5. One of my favorites -- irregardless -- is this a double negative meaning to regard something?
6. Infer or imply -- When do you infer something versus imply something? The rule of thumb is that imply means you are suggesting something and infer means you are interpreting something. That sure clears it up -- not.
7. Momento -- this is a Spanish word for moment not a word for something you bring back from your trip. The correct term is memento -- as in, "I brought my daughter a memento from the conference I attended".
8. Anticlimatic -- The correct term is anticlimactic -- as in a letdown. The other term means you are against the climate...
9. Tenant versus tenet -- One is a renter; the other is a principle as in a list of ethical tenets. But then again, maybe you have ethical renters...
10. Moot versus mute -- You may argue a moot point (meaning it is abstract or irrelevant) or you may remain mute on the subject meaning you have nothing to say.

So there you have the quick lesson for the day. Now here is a list of words that I would really like to see stricken from our vocabulary (most come from my teenage daughter).

1. Like -- as in, "I am, like, really tired of, like, having my teacher's assign, like, all this homework".
2. Whatever -- Example -- Mom: "You can't go out until you finish your homework'. Daughter: "Whatever..."
3. ad hoc -- We use it a lot in BI conversations and rarely get it right. The definition of "ad hoc" is done for particular purpose: done or set up solely in response to a specific situation or problem, without considering wider or longer-term issues (from Microsoft® Encarta® 2007). For example, an ad hoc meeting.
4 "It is what it is" -- what the heck does that mean, anyway? My contractor used it many times during our renovation. It was followed by a statement that we were either going to have to redo something or live with it...

So there are my pet peeves. I can't wait to read your favorites. Just list them in the comments and you will feel much better, I promise.

Yours in BI success.

Claudia

Technorati Tags: Correct Grammar, word errors, Pet Peeves, communication


Posted August 1, 2007 9:48 AM
Permalink | 4 Comments |

4 Comments

OK, not a word you see in business very often, but how about nauseous vs. nauseated? The first induces nausea in others (The nauseous news of Rupert Murdock owning the WSJ had journalists everywhere running for the door), while the second is the actual feeling of nausea (I was nauseated at the thought of the news to come). I simply despise hearing someone say "I'm so nauseous." I want to leap up and say "YES! Yes, you are!"

Oh, and there's also mad vs. angry (Dogs go mad; people get angry), "Can I" vs. "May I" (I don't know...CAN you?), and a whole host of others that I could continue on with, but my language therapist says it's bad for me to keep revisiting these issues, because one day I'm just going to crack and run down the street screaming "Who! Whom! Who! Whom!" and assaulting innocent bystanders with dangling participles.

Language indeed is important. It may/can/might?? drive Claudia crazy, I think it is essential for good business also. We Europeans learn English at school. Do you realise/realize the additional issues we're facing?

Feedback on "It is what it is":
I'll certainly agree that, on the surface, it seems, ahem, redundant and unnecessary.
Over time, however, I've come to appreciate it as one of those sayings that has rich hidden meaning, like "que sera sera". It helps remind us that we must see and accept things as they are before trying to change them. Easier said than done. It reminds me of Zen's "Be here now" or Aristotle's "A is A".
These days I find I'm appreciating it more and more. Wish I knew how to say it in Latin.

kenw

Fortunately, non-Americans don't have a problem with 'moot' vs 'mute' - they're pronounced differently in English. :)

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