Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Levels of Distractibility: Who cares? = *. Some people will be distracted from your meaning: = **. Many people will be distracted from your meaning: = ***.

Question. "So and so was murdered at 5th and Elm. The incident was witnessed by...." Why does the New York Times Manual of Style and Usage disagree with the use of "incident" in this news story?

Answer: Don't describe an event with serious consequences as an "incident." The term trivializes. Make the description fit the magnitude of the event: "Murder" is murder; a "fatal accident" is a deadly event. "Incident" is often used in newspapers to refer to murders and deadly accidents.

Rating of Distractibility: (**). We're so used to the term "incident" in newspapers and on TV newscasts to describe an event regardless of the gravity of its consequences that most of us probably won't notice it. Careful uses of language will.

No comments: