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Captain radio meets malingerer as smithing gold grows business in miami. (WOOD ON WORDS).

Valued contributor Kathryn E. Jandeska, who is vice president and editorial director at Paragraphs Design Inc., Chicago, e-mails CW with this bit of non-pilot error:

"A front-page story in this morning's (8/10/00) Chicago Tribune quoted an industry analyst on the United Airlines pilot troubles, as follows:

"'The United Airlines situation has malingered and festered for months.'

"I think what the fellow was trying to say was 'lingered,' not 'malingered,' which, as we know, means 'faking illness.' (Some of those pilots who don't want to work may in fact be faking illness, but that's beside the point.)" My brand-new American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.), about which details in the next screed, supports KEJ's position: malinger intr.v. "To feign illness or other incapacity in order to avoid duty or work. (From French malingre, sickly.}" Malaprop malingered must be clipped.

* ABC Tim Hicks, content strategist aka "The Duke of URL" at TRH Communications in Victoria, B.C., Canada, e-mails the generous observation "I've enjoyed your column (in CW) for a long time." He then gets down to business with "I've been fighting against improper use of 'their' for nearly as long.

"Yesterday I heard a radio announcer give what may have been the definitive example of how you can get in trouble when you mix singular and plural. Reporting that two men had fallen from their boat, he told us that 'neither man had their life jackets on.'

"I immediately pictured one ... wearing two life jackets while the other struggled to stay (afloat)."

I wish you well in your fight, because not all future opponents will present a jaw so vitreous as Captain Radio's. Perhaps his Broadcasting 101 lector abbreviated the lecture designed to remind students that neither is usually singular ... I don't know. But as you are suggesting, he needed to say, "Neither man had his life jacket on" or "The men did not have their life jackets on." (Good news this wasn't a girl/boy item, eh? "Neither person had her or his life jacket on....")

* And our first-ever communication from Elkton, MD, proffers this from reader Par Valdata, president of Cloudstreet Communications, Inc.: "I am curious about when businesses stopped growing and people started growing them. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, grow is an intransitive verb when it means to expand' or 'to gain' or 'to increase in size.' It is a transitive verb in the sense of 'to raise' (to grow tulips) or ' to let grow' (to grow a beard), which seems far too passive to make sense when one talks about one's business. Is it possible to raise a business as one raises dahlias? The phrase 'to grow a business' sounds wrong to me.

Nothing wrong with Patricia's ear. The Usage Note at grow in American Heritage 4 observes "The transitive use applied to business and nonliving things is quite new. It came into full bloom during the 1992 presidential election, when nearly all the candidates were concerned with 'growing the economy.' The Usage Panel is decidedly less fond of this development than business leaders and politicians are. Eighty percent of the Panel rejects the phrase grow our business."

The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (Times Books, Ran-House, 1999) ordains that "The newer usage of grow to mean expand (grow the business; grow revenue) is business jargon, best resisted." The Wall Street Journal Stylebook (4th ed., 1995) issues the direct order "One grows crops or a garden. One does not grow a business or a company, so confine that usage to quotations." Merriam-Webster's 10th Collegiate Dictionary omits it; Webster's New World College 4th ed. allows it.

The consensus: Grow this. (The final comment in the AHD4 usage note reads "The Panel has no affection for the odd but occasionally heard phrase grow down: 98 percent reject If elected I shall do my utmost to grow down the deficit.")

* An obituary in The Boston Globe related how a World War II veteran had been wounded in both legs. "He was attempting to staunch the flow of blood with newspapers...."

The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual (6th ed., 1996) says "Stanch is a verb: He stanched the flow of blood. Staunch is an adjective: She is a staunch supporter of equality." WSJ concurs. But dictionaries are divided. For example, Webster's New World College opines in its usage note: "For the adj., staunch is now the prevailing form in the U.S.; for the v., usage is about evenly divided between staunch and stanch." Nobody ever said wordmongering would be easy.

Alden Wood, APR, lecturer on editorial procedures at Simmons College, Boston, Mass., writes and lectures on language usage. He is a retired insurance industry vice president of advertising and public relations. His e-dress is WoodonWords@aol.com
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Author:Wood, Alden
Publication:Communication World
Date:Oct 1, 2000
Words:799
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