May 27, 2020

Anything goes today

I am writing in reference to “Glaring media errors” (BDN, Dec. 23-24). No, Carol Tiffin James, your husband is most assuredly not right. Like you, I am appalled at the sloppiness that has crept into the media and into business correspondence.

Today’s message appears to be “anything goes.” Sometimes I can’t believe my eyes and ears when I hear errors such as “I’m so happy the dog seems to be doing good” (a local TV news reporter upon hearing an abused dog was making a recovery) or when I read, as I did when opening my mail recently, “Enclosed are updated prospectuses for the [name of insurance company] variable annuity and its’ underlying portfolios.”

The sloppy diction on some local television channels defies belief. And nobody seems to know the proper use of the verbs lie and lay. “The victim laid on the cold ground most of the night.” I shudder to think what will come out of the White House during the next four years when I hear George W. Bush talk about holding people “hostile” and speaking of “subliminable” messages. And he will be the leader of our country!

Assure your husband, Mrs. James, you are not “the only one left in the world who is upset by these errors and that nobody else cares.” A lot of us do care; alas, I fear trying to cope with the pervasive errors of grammar, spelling, mispronunciation and incorrect word usage, particularly in the media, is rather like experiencing the punishment of Sisyphus: rolling that stone to the hilltop only to have it roll right back to the bottom again.

Ralph P. Pettie

Blue Hill

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