Friday, June 11, 2004

On pet peeves and proactive

Bill Walsh has created a companion blog to The Slot. And already it is paying dividends.

He points out Barbara Wallraff's site Free the Peeves, a great place for copy editors to test their chops.
Our goal is tolerance – tolerance of legitimate language eccentricities. The English-speaking world has unjustly adopted countless language and punctuation peeves as pets. Our work won’t be done until all peeves are set free.
Try out the four quizzes challenging your ability to differentiate between actual rules and pet peeves.

Bill Walsh did, and missed one. A couple of people pointed out in the comments that they missed one, as well. So, which one was it? The quiz on proactive. (It should be noted that Barbara has slightly edited the wording of the correct answer to be more obviously correct.)

So what's the hang-up on proactive? Bill calls it "an annoying buzzword." Phil Blanchard says "I've never seen a sentence with 'proactive' in it (except a quotation) I couldn't make better without it."

But how? What's the magic acceptable word that means "acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes"?

If there's a quick and elegant fix, I'm OK with it, I guess. But most of the time, I find that proactive works just fine. Even if it was coined by annoying people.


At 11:40 PM, June 11, 2004, Blogger Phillip Blanchard said...

Please note that I said I wasn't on a crusade. My point was supposed to be that the word is almost always misused, and that it is rare for it to be needed.

At 10:50 AM, June 15, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vince Tuss here:

I guess I just don't see a difference in definition between proactive and active.


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