Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Language complaints on NPR

NPR's ombudsman gets a lot of complaints about on-air language and grammar. Some people even apologize in advance for pointing out minutiae, but Jeffrey Dvorkin thinks the gripes are justified.
First, NPR needs to get the little things right. If it can't, what does that say about the accuracy of the bigger issues?

Second, errors of grammar and usage tend to break the listener's concentration. If a listener stops to wonder if he or she really heard an error or a syntactical lapse, then whatever else the reporter or announcer was saying is lost because the listener's train of thought has been derailed.
Dvorkin has saved up some of the quibbles, and they include some classic debates: Mass vs. service, soldiers vs. troops, literally vs. figuratively, sink vs. sank vs. sunk, translator vs. interpreter. The letters are short, quick to get through. And I'm always interested in readers' (or listeners') language complaints. Check it out.


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