Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Unfortunate Error

We were watching The Weather Channel while Hurricane Ike (sans Tina) came ashore in Galveston, Texas last weekend. There was lots of live video from Galveston and Houston, plus lots of glitzy graphics. We were surprised, however, to see The Weather Channel use the graphic above.

OK, if you can't hear us, move up to the front of the class -- AFFECT is most often a verb meaning "have an impact on". EFFECT is most often a noun, as in "sound effects." This means that The Weather Channel picked the wrong spelling - it should have been "Feeling the EFFECTS of Ike."

Don't get us wrong, we love The Weather Channel (Melanie does have a degree in meteorology, after all, AND The Weather Channel created a commercial out of a letter she wrote back in the 1980s). We just want them to take a little more care and check their word choice in graphics before airing those graphics.

We wish those AFFECTED by Hurricane Ike a quick recovery from the damage and hardship inflicted by the storm.


Takoma Park said...

I feel your pain. Of course, there is a real and obvious difference between "affect" (a verb) and "effect" (a noun). This mistake in much the same way as those Republicans who insist upon using the noun "Democrat" when they need the adjective "Democratic," as in "the Democrat Senator from New York" or the "Democrat plan for the economy."
But the stickier wicket, and the one I would love to see you parse, is the use of "impact" when the word they are looking for is "affect." How about a column on that?

Alan said...

I miss TOWFI. Any chance of more blog posts? I realize your paying job comes before any non-paying blog or webzine, but anything you put up in your spare time would be wonderful. YouTube's HotForWords isn't nearly as informative as you guys are.

Anonymous said...

Hey, are you two coming back anytime soon? You are missed!

Anonymous said...

Hey, where is everyone? Aren't you two coming back?

Sasha said...

i can't believe it's been a year since the blog was updated, and three years since the last zine issue. I hope you're all well, and that we'll see from you all again soon.

David said...

American usage is certainly very strange at times: "momentarily" to mean "in a moment" comes to mind. However, what about your own usage of, "There was lots of live video from Galveston and Houston, plus lots of glitzy graphics." "Was"? Don't you mean "were"? "Lots" is the plural form, after all. "There was a lot…," but, "There were lots…," surely?

Jonadab said...

Takoma Park:
No, the adjective "democratic" does not mean "belonging to the Democrat party", or at least that is not its primary and most widely understood meaning. I suppose that in writing, if you capitalize it in the middle of a sentence, you can get the reader to understand what you mean, but in spoken form there is no standard convention for conveying capitalization, and without that the listener will definitely get the wrong idea. Confusion will result.

In the case of the plan for the economy, you could use the plural possessive ("Democrats' plan"), but that doesn't work so well for the senator.

Most serious linguists have given up on the notion that nouns shouldn't be used adjectivally in English. It has become an accepted practice even in formal writing.

I'm still waiting for grammarians to stop trying to force Latin-style nominative-case predicate pronouns on English being verbs, despite the fact that they have sounded wrong to every single native speaker of the language for the last hundred years at least. (Just trying saying "it's I", "that's he", or "those're they" and see how people look at you. These constructions sound every bit as perversely ungrammatical as "Him go to store.")