Writing 101: We Are All the Caretakers of Our Language

Just because something gets repeated over and over doesn't mean it's true.

It also doesn't mean that it's good grammar/style/usage.

Here are two (well, three, really) of my current least-favorite turns of phrase:

"ISO of" - as in the social media posting "ISO of plumber recommendations." Don't get me wrong - I'm all for getting good plumber recommendations. I'm just not in favor of using "of" twice in that phrase. Because, you see, "ISO" is an abbreviation of "in search of," so "ISO of" in that phrase translates to: "In search of of."

This is, obviously, closely related to the infamous "ATM machine," which, when broken out becomes "automated teller machine machine." I don't know about you, but I really don't need a machine which will give me more automated tellers.

A relatively new phrasing that has been showing up at the bottom of commercials is "Real people. Not actors." This has replaced such phrasing as "Real reactions from real people" or "Participants were not paid for their reactions" and comes alongside other disclaimers such as "Actor portrayal of real reactions."

What gets me in this is that, in saying "Real people. Not actors." the assumption is to be gained that actors are not "real people." But I'm pretty sure actors are people. They may be paid to perform roles and become other people, but - at the most basic - they're people. Just like all four of the "one out of four doctors" are people.

I know these are kind of weird little things. But, from a language perspective, they're pretty big - and important to the way we speak and write.

After all, if we don't take care of our language, who will?

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