Ranting About Units of Measure and Lazy Writing

March 19, 2013 by in category Blogs tagged as , , with 3 and 0
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Monica Stoner w/a Mona Karel

When did ‘ton’ evolve into a generalized unit of measure?  At one time, a ton was 2,000 pounds. Yes, there was metric ton and no doubt some other scientific variations but it all came back to a method of stating the weight of an item.  Simple, exact, precise.

Suddenly we have a “ton” of ideas, a “ton”of fun, a “ton” of jobs to do. I might expect to see this sort of casual expression among middle school students and young people but it has become pervasive in the work of what I thought were professional writers. Which leads me to wonder if this has become standard usage. Whatever happened to such wonderful words as ‘plethora?’ ([n.] excess) Granted we might not encounter the word in common usage but should that mean we choose an inappropriate word instead?

Will we encounter the same spreading misuse as we did when a well known author applied ‘laconic’ ([adj.] brief statement, concise explanation) to her hero’s raised eyebrow. Granted eyebrows aren’t capable of extensive speech but this usage is far beyond the definition. Sadly I find she has established a trend of lazy writing when a quick perusal of the thesaurus might suggest, well, a plethora of more correct adjectives.

To exacerbate the situation, I just received a message about a FREE GIVEAWAY book. Is this phrasing supposed to make me want the book more? To be honest, I figure if the promotional notices show such disrespect for our language I’m not likely to check out the book itself. Free is too expensive when I waste time on poorly written books.

Then you have the brilliant new idea that word usage isn’t as important as story telling and content. According to this theory if a writer can’t remember the difference between your and you’re it doesn’t matter as long as their characters have appeal. And here I wondered how we devolved to using ‘ton’ to identify something other than a large unit of weight.
Maybe I’m just in a crabby mode. Words do have an exact meaning and we write for the joy of sharing those words with others.  Unless of course we’re writing to silence the voices in our heads.
Is there anything that rubs your writerly self the wrong way?


  • Anonymous
    on March 20, 2013

    Linda how long do you think 'objective pronouns' will remain as a phrase understood by anyone but a teacher?

  • Anonymous
    on March 19, 2013

    Sorry for the typos. Combination of aftereffects of yestersay's eye surgery and ise of iPad keyboard!

  • Anonymous
    on March 19, 2013

    My pet peeve, well, one of them is the disappearing me. Imcringe every time I read "for Tom and I" instead of Tom and me. I know it started as overcorrection, but now it is endemic, and from people who ought to know better. And maybe we are just getting older and don't like the way the language is evolving. I wouldn't be surprised to see objective pronouns disappear entirely in my lifetime.

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