Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Noise words project null percentage points

American news services like the phrase percentage points. Especially CNN and the NYT.

In statistical terms, what is percentage points?
  • The DOW rose three percentage points today.
  • The number of people who support the war in Iraq has fallen by thirty percentage points.
  • The polls show that McCain rose in popularity over Romney by a ten percentage point difference.

Why couldn't they just say,
  • The DOW rose three percent today.
  • The number of people who support the war in Iraq has fallen by thirty percent.
  • The polls show that McCain rose in popularity over Romney by a ten percent difference.

If they wanted to emphasize percent, it would have been more effective had they, instead, said
  • The DOW rose three freakin percent today.
  • The number of people who support the war in Iraq has fallen by thirty awesomest percent.
  • The polls show that McCain rose in popularity over Romney by a ten so-mother-fishering percent difference.

Use of noise words in media projects an air of pomposity and an attempt at increasing the importance of a phrase above others.

Example of noise phrases or words I find unbearable
  • Is your cup half-full or half-empty?
  • With all due respect
  • It never ceases to amaze me
  • Basically
  • In the final analysis of the matter
  • I am going to go to ...
  • quote-unquote
  • per (per your request, per the items listed in the agenda, per the frequency of meetings held, per ... arrggh)
Per is about the most annoying noise word. I think people who use it tend not to know what it actually means and don't know when its use is appropriate, except realising that the word sounds really cool, and macho. Next, is talking to someone who starts every sentence with basically.

Do not say,
I am going to go to work.
I am going to go home.

I will be going to work.
I am going home.

Otherwise, we might as well say,
I am going to going to going ... to going to go to throw up.

Try not to say, or write,
I have performed the tasks per the instructions in the manual, as agreed upon per the minutes of the meeting, per the requirement of Standard Operating Procedures which follows per ISO 9000. This was done, per our understanding that it is per the coming visit of the honourable Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

Why can't people just simply say, or write,
I have performed the tasks according to the manual, as agreed upon in the meeting, due to the Standard Operating Procedures, which complies with ISO 9000 requirements. It is our understanding that this was for the coming visit of the honourable Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Don't oblige to obligate

Thirty years ago, the word obligated was not an academically accepted word. The accepted word was obliged.

The original word is oblige.

I am not obliged to accept your proposal.
Do not oblige yourself to accept her proposal.

So, if the noun for complicate is complication,
then the noun for the word oblige is obligation.

The word obligate is a reverse mis-derivation of the root from its derived noun obligation.

Anyway, obligated has been accepted into common use. Despite that, I feel obliged to continue using the word oblige rather than obligate.

I have an uncomfortable premonition that a day will come when reverse root mis-derivation of the word registration will cause people to forget that there are words such as register, registrar or registrants  but start saying,
All college registratees must registrate their courses with the respective course registrators to complete the registration cycle.

And after a few generations, it would be registratorize, registratoree, registratorer and registratorization. And in a thousand years', it would be registraterrorization.

The English word toilet is inherited from the French word toilet, which means a dressing room or dressing table. For example, eau de toilet is a phrase for a nice cologne normally dispensed in the dressing room.

Then the English decided an euphemism (dressing up of an unpleasant experience with nicer words) had to be applied to the poop room. Thence the word toilet was used. So the word toilet is actually a very pleasant and nice smelling word to describe a rather smelly situation.

Then, I am supposing, the United States of America was having many non-English speaking immigrants who had no idea of the historical pleasantness of the word toilet and their children decided that a pleasant euphemism had to be applied to the situation in place of toilet. Therefore, we now have a situation where we have bathrooms where you cannot imaginably have a bath or a shower.

In London or Mumbai, you see the signs to the toilets. In the United States, the signs are misleading because you are exhausted and tired shopping all day and you thought that American establishments were so pleasant that you could have a nice warm bath. You follow the signs and there is not a single stall with a shower or a bathtub!

I am imagining that in a hundred years' time, there would be people who would have no idea of the historical pleasantness nor have the linguistic understanding of the word bathroom and decide that a pleasant euphemism has to be used - the realityroom - because in the midst of the deluge of virtual realities in  the future, a mention of reality would be a really pleasant thought.

I encountered another mis-derived word. I was evaluating Liferay. I found it difficult to use the term intanceable.

Instance -> instantiate -> instantiable. Simple. Why do people have to coin the word intanceable? Come on!

When you go for an interview and you have to decide between accepting two jobs, pay a visit to their toilets. If you find that their toilets are unpleasant, the message you should get is that they don't care about their employees.

I find it hard to trust software that do not pay attention to human language semantics. If I find software using terminology I find unpleasant, I would probably find that piece of software hidden with features I would find unpleasant later deep in my projects.

Data is already plural

The plural for schema is schemata.
The singular of data is datum.

The following are examples of words that should be avoided from being used, unless you are aware of their implications:
datas, equipments, deers, waters, soils, fishes.

This is a word that should not be used at all: schemas.

Water, soil and equipment are examples of collective nouns. When you have multi-piece sets of furniture or equipment, you do not say,
Your five equipments and four furnitures are in the warehouse.

The more comfortable sentence is,
Your five-piece equipment and four-piece furniture are in the warehouse.

Normally, we would say,
I have tasted almost all the bottles of water in the house.

However, to describe plurality of collectives, for example to say that you have tasted all the different varieties of water found in the world,
I have tasted almost all the waters in the world.

I have expertise in almost all the soils in the country - says the experienced geologist.
I have hunted all the deers in North America - says the avid deer hunter.
I have tasted all the fishes in the world - says the seafood connoisseur.
I have used softwares of every kind.

Therefore, to describe many files and multiple formats, all pertaining to one type of data,
I have uploaded all the manufacturing data for the month.

Data is already a plural and use of the word datas should be avoided. However, if you persist and insist, at least use it sensibly.

The following would be used to describe multiple collections of data, each collection being distinct from the others,
I have uploaded all the datas for the month for your manufacturing, finance, engineering and marketing projects.