Monday, October 05, 2009

tenets for tenants

It's sad, truly sad, when it takes a grammar mistake in a major online mag to elicit a post here for the first time in months. I first posted this notice on Facebook; today family and friends, tomorrow the world, as I take arms against a sea of troubled verbiage. (My Christmas list this year consists entirely of a blender; the better to mix my metaphors with - I mean, the better with which to mix my metaphors.)

And so it begins.
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I've now seen this mistake twice today: once in a job posting and once in an opinion article. Here we go:

A "tenant" is someone who occupies a dwelling; the usual usage refers to someone who is renting it from a landlord.
A "tenet" is a doctrine, belief, or principle. (That's principle, not principal. I'm not going over that again; you should have learned it the first time.)

To say you wish to hire someone who is "familiar with the tenants of physics and engineering" is to say that you want someone who has merely met the faculty at a research university. In that case, you have first forgotten to capitalize Physics and Engineering as the title of the building, and, secondly, you may have caused consternation among some of the non-tenured faculty by drawing attention to their less-than-permanent employment status.

You may not sleep better knowing this, but you should.
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The particular mistake occurs here, painfully, just before the end of the first page, in an otherwise well-reasoned article - the first I've seen by a liberal publication acknowledging the legality in principle of the present Honduran administration and questioning the Obama administration's position.

That's all for now - sweet dreams.

1 comment:

Stan said...

Welcome back! (Grammar is one of my pet peeves. I loved my grammar. She was a deer lady.)