Archive

Archive for the ‘Publishing/Printing’ Category

The Bastardization Continues…

Media is the biggest culprit when it comes to corrupting the English language. Back when I was in school, it was the TV personalities and reporters who started saying ‘persons’ instead of ‘people’.

‘Functionality’ began with computer geeks who never bothered to check a dictionary and started using it online.

Now TV is back to throw English right down the toilet. If you ever watch crime scene investigation type shows, and there are so many now, you’ll have heard this before. When looking at a person who’s been shot, they often discuss the ‘directionality’ of the bullet.  Exsqueeze me? Baking powder?  Let me put it a different way. Does this sound correct to you? What directionality should I drive to get to the U.S. border? What directionality is the wind blowing today? DIRECTION! The correct word is direction. There is no directionality, just like there is no functionality.

The newest trend in the destruction of the English language is using adjectives and adverbs as nouns. There is a Foodland Ontario TV commercial that is currently airing which uses ‘good’ as a noun. And no, it’s not ‘good’ as in ‘goods and services’. The young lady who narrates the commercial says things like “buy the good”, “share the good” and “cook the good”. Good lord!

A second one I’ve seen now is a Reebok/Sportchek commercial, where the narrator talks about “your better”. My better what? I keep waiting for the narrator to finish his sentence. How about my better speaking ability? My English is clearly better than yours? Maybe you better buy a dictionary?

That’s good enough for now. And no, I don’t feel any better.

The Bastardization of the English Language

I thought the English language was dead when someone decided they didn’t like the word people. Somehow it wasn’t good enough. So they started saying persons. It is to the point now where most legal and official documents use persons instead of people. That must be it. That is the end of the English language as we know it. As a former English teacher and current English nerd I was saddened by this development. What’s next, childs? There have to be others out there in the English-speaking world who agree this is a travesty of monumental proportions. But, apparently not. No one cares.

Well one little word doesn’t mean the whole language is on its way down a deep, dark, bottomless pit. If only that were the end of it. But there are, unfortunately, other reasons. For me the unholy trifecta consists of: administrate, orientate and commentate. What happened to administer, orient and comment? What does a commentator do? He comments. That’s right, comment is also a verb. This one is my personal favourite because you hear it on TV all the time. Commentators, political, sports or otherwise, are beamed into our living rooms and on our smart phones. They are authority figures, of one kind or another. And we take them at their word when they speak. Unfortunately no one has ever taught them how to speak English. They are not authority figures on the English language. Do not take them to be so.

Don’t even get me started on its vs. it’s, your vs. you’re, and any number of other mistakes a large portion of the population make on a daily basis.

And then of course there is the worst of the worst: functionality. This word didn’t exist before about ten years ago. How did English-speaking society survive without this word? How did we describe the ability of a device? Very easily actually. We used the preexisting word: function. Yes, function is also a noun. A device has function. We can increase the function of something.

I have another question for you: Is something ‘free’ or ‘for free’? It’s free. Free is an adjective, not a noun.  Don’t believe me, look it up in a dictionary. Oh, wait, that doesn’t work anymore.

It used to be that simple. If someone was mistaken and didn’t believe you when you corrected their English you could tell them to check the dictionary. Not anymore. The dictionary people have bowed to popular opinion and belief and now on a yearly basis infest the dictionary with made up and redundant words. Don’t believe me, look it up. Persons, functionality and a whole host of other ridiculous mutations of English words are now in the dictionary. I have in the past instructed my students not to use words such as functionality because it makes you sound less intelligent to anyone who actually understands the language. And I don’t mean to anyone whose first language is English because they don’t necessarily understand their own language.

Just because English is your first, and possibly your only, language doesn’t mean you understand it. It doesn’t mean you are an authority figure on it. I can play hockey, but I probably shouldn’t teach it. I can fry an egg, doesn’t mean I can teach cookery. The ability to do something doesn’t make one an authority figure on it. It doesn’t make one a good teacher. Ability doesn’t equal expertise.

English is difficult enough. But its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness: it changes. Not all change is evolution though, some of it is mutation. And unwanted, dangerous mutations must be stamped out before they infect the entire language. I hope it’s not too late…

Is Print on the Slippery Slope Towards Death?

The doomsdayers in the publishing industry would have you believe in the near future print will be dead. I wholeheartedly disagree! Print is certainly not dead and will never fully die.

The eBook industry is on the rise. (see previous post) And yes it has and will continue to eat into the market for printed materials. Some point to the market for printed newspapers as a bellwether of print in general. But newspapers are a very different medium from books. There is no sentimental value to a printed newspaper.  Newspapers are not handed down from generation to generation. Nobody goes to newspaper readings. And people don’t stand for hours in line to have their newspaper signed. But of course you know all of this already.

The older generation especially, see printed books as something akin to chicken noodle soup. It’s good ‘ole home cookin’! It’s an emotional thing. We are not emotionally attached to eBooks. Not yet at least. They very well could be in the future.  But not yet.

So if print isn’t going to die out totally, where is it going? It’s going to become a niche market. It will go the way of the record. When eBooks gain the majority of market share, which they are slowly doing, the printed book will be pushed right off the shelf. Pun intended!

Printed books will become harder and harder to find. You’ll have to go to specialty shops. Even then only some books will actually be printed. And then, 20 or so years later, they’ll become ‘retro’. The younger generation will want them because they will become cool. And printed books and materials will see a short revival. Specialty shops will pop up everywhere. Experts will start telling everyone that true readers prefer printed material to electronic. Finally, after all this, only us old guys, by then I’ll be very old, will care that printed text even existed. How many mp3 loving kids today even know how to play a record?

But this is all way down the line. Right now, printed materials are the norm, and will be for the foreseeable future. Just watch out! The end is nigh…well not too nigh.

Categories: Publishing/Printing

The Rise of eBooks: Not a Tsunami, but the Tide Is Coming in

Where is the tsunami of eBooks and eBook readership we were all promised when the technology was first introduced? Simply put: it’s not coming. But the tide is coming in. The doomsdayers told us this was the death of the printed book. Soon everyone was going to read their books electronically and print shops would go under faster than you can spell Gutenberg. So, why were all the talking heads wrong?

The first reason is that the technology was slow to adapt. The first eBook readers just weren’t very good. They were slow to catch on. That, however, has changed and it is illustrated by the current eBook stats.

If you don’t believe me, simply look to our recent past when it comes to new technologies. The original Ipod was a flop. It didn’t take off until Apple spent a big chunk of change on their marketing campaign. Now, you’re hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t have an Ipod or some kind of mp3 playing device.

The second reason is supply. Publishers have been slow to warm to the eBook. The main reason being the profit margins are much smaller than for printed books.  Some believe the lack of printing should create higher profit margins for publishers, but the truth is printing is but a small cost for the publishing industry. The real cost is the R&D.

The final reason is simply that printed books are so entrenched in our society that it is and will continue to be hard to uproot them. They are everywhere, from education to entertainment. And the new technology, eBooks, is not vastly superior to the old, print. But it will be very soon.

I’m not going to bore you by quoting a bunch of stats, but if you do look them up you will see that purchases of eBooks and eBook readers are on the rise. And the demographic stats are the most interesting but also the most logical. It’s the younger generation and their younger parents who are purchasing eBook readers.

And here is the best part for the publishing industry. All of this actually increases readership! EBooks make reading more accessible and fun for the younger generation. A generation who is used to acquiring all their information from a screen, not paper. Paper is not exciting for them, a screen is. The tide is coming, slowly but surely. Now if only we could get eating vegetables on a screen…

Categories: Publishing/Printing