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Much, Mathews share depthier roll while PR Week sips sacrificial wine. (Wood on Words).

A pair of varsity word-women from our by that other ocean issued a pair of citations-for-sore-eyes early last February.

Cite 1 was datelined San Jose, Calif., and arrived here thanks to due diligence displayed by IABC's Kathleen Much, who labors in the shadow of fair Stanford. Titled "Another homonym fault," it said, "The San Jose Mercury News (5 Feb 2002) accused the California employees' pension fund of neglecting 'its watchdog roll' in the Enron case."

Much barked, "Would that be a dog biscuit? We need 'role' here."

Cite 2 was datelined Phoenix, Ariz., and showed that IABC pro Wilma Mathews knows when to bust a bogus neologism: "In an article in the 2/07/02 Phoenix New Times, writer Robert Nelson tells of the latest trend in media: convergence, where newspapers and TV stations swap newsroom personnel. Nelson says part of the reason is: 'Television inherits the depthier reporting of print journalism; newspapers get access to that expanding audience of ingrates who only get their news from television.'"

Wilma kept it to one word: "Depthier?!" Actually, to one nonword--no lexicon hereabouts shows it. This final tweak: Move that only (last sentence) to the caboose. Friend Wilma is director of p.r. for Arizona State U., Tempe.

ABC Kris Gallagher e-mails from Chicago and DePaul U. to report "I recently ordered a keyboard wrist rest from 3M. To accommodate our diversely handed society, the base comes with an adhesive-backed mouse pad, which can be applied on either side of the keyboard tray. The instructions for applying the mousepad conclude with this:

"'If you plan to alternate sides for mousing, after placing the mouse pad on the tray from step 4, immediately remove it and reapply it a few times to detackify the adhesive.'

"Mousing? Detackify? I suspect these are newly minted words...."

Detackify appears in no dictionary on this desktop; the only meanings for mousing are 1) to hunt for and kill mice, and 2) "n. Nautical. A binding or metal shackle around the point and shank of a hook to prevent it from slipping from an eye." (American Heritage Dict. 4th ed.)

Gallagher, who is internal consultant/university relations at DePaul, concludes, "Why not simply say, 'If you plan to use the mouse on both sides...reapply it a few times to make the adhesive less sticky'?" Works for this workstation; and CW thanks KG, whose most recent communication (3/19) printed out thus:

"An article about pianist Ramsey Lewis and singer Nancy Wilson in the Chicago Defender (March 9) says, 'Both musicians have reached the plateau of their careers.' I am sure (both) sometimes feel that way; I hope the pinnacle of their careers is still before them.

"Then, in the March 19 Chicago Sun-Times, reporter Cindy Pearlman writes about Debra Winger and Arliss Howard, who star in...'Big Bad Love.' She quotes Howard, discussing Winger's script selection, as saying, 'She wasn't adverse to being in a hit movie, but...she was always shooting for a higher plain.' Unless it is a movie about relocating to higher altitudes, I suspect Ms. Winger is searching for a higher plane."

* The Questions & Answers column in PR Week (12/17/01) led its commentary on Maura Farrell with this malefaction...will you spot it first time through? -- "She's a former altar girl who's addicted to the American version of sacrificial wine--Diet Coke."

Sacrificial works well with lamb, but what works with wine in this wise-guy context is sacramental. Do the homework; amaze and gratify your readers.

* The lede piece in The Boston Globe of 12/26/01 presented this oddity: "It was unclear whether Azhar's detention would assuage India...." According to Merriam-Webster's 10th Collegiate Dict., assuage "implies softening or sweetening what is harsh or disagreeable (ocean breezes assuaged the intense heat)." Better for this context would be mollify--"implies soothing hurt feelings or rising anger"--or perhaps conciliate--"ending an estrangement by persuasion, concession, or settling of differences...."

* How does American Speech (the periodical) define "The arrogant young person with wealth derived easily through the Internet?" Try dot snot.

Alden Wood, APR, lecturer on editorial procedures at Simmons College, Boston, 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
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2002
Words:713
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