Years ago, I was writing the script for a meeting that included the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, or “DepSec,” as we said. The first time I used the abbreviation in the computer document, however, a box popped up that said, “Do you mean ‘dipstick’?”
No, I most certainly did not. And, besides, I’ll have you know that I’ve always been quite capable of making mistakes on my own, thank you, without electronic assistance.
I was reminded of this by a recent online article about common errors made by even the most professional writers – all by themselves.
One of my own pet peeves targeted in the post was the repetition of words, as in, “The recently announced program is one of the first programs ever addressing this problem, and the program format is designed for maximum participant participation in the program.” While such sentences get the point across, they can raise doubts about your attention to detail.
A second was misplaced modifiers, as in: “Created in the 17th century, visitors will be amazed by the architecture of the mosque.” Hopefully, the mosque, not the people, debuted in the 1600s. Otherwise, there’s a bigger story there.
One noted “error” that cut a little too close to home involved phrases one tends to use over and over. While this makes readers feel they know you, it also can dampen the copy’s effect. (That said, I had to consider that I use “that said” and “consider” way too much.)
You’ve seen legions of other writing errors, I’m sure, from incorrect choices among homonyms to the eternal confusion between “which” and “that.” On the downside, they can make you wonder about the writer; on the upside, they can make you feel superior.
Still, the fact that someone cared enough to write an article gave me both hope and inspiration: hope that respect for language lives on and inspiration to do better by it.