Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Extreme Proofreading - the Dangers of a Good Vocabulary

One of the pitfalls of being a court reporter is we read and listen to EVERYTHING - newspapers, magazines, books, emails, television programs, etc. - with a critical eye and ear.

We're wordmasters, or should be, and are hyperaware of vocabulary. And, trust me, since we CAN'T SAY ANYTHING AT WORK about improper word usage - we'll do it at home and in our transcripts. I've even written a letter to a publishing house about improper word usage.

It can be so frustrating. And we're not TRYING to be "smart" and show off - it's just that it's our JOB RESPONSIBILITY to know the difference between two words that sound similar.

Here's my pet peeve of the day:

Do you know the difference between "loath" and "loathe" well enough to use it correctly?

The editor/author of the book I read yesterday did NOT.

Really, it drives us nuts.

So, if you don't know, here's the skinny: If you DESPISE someone, you "loathe" them, actively, with the "E" on the end. If you're not really interested in doing something - meaning desperately don't want to - you're "loath" to do it, no "E" active on the end.

It's really frustrating for us. Imagine a witness saying "various and unsundry" when they mean "various and sundry" things. Well, you can BET the court reporter is going to put the editor's mark of "[sic]" in there - because we CANNOT change the verbatim record and we want the reader to know we know it was a misspeak (hey, it's NOT that the reporter is stupid there!).

Bottom line: Congratulate your court reporter friends for NOT correcting people in public. It's hard for us. Really.


  1. "One of the pitfalls of being a court reporter..."

    It seems to be both a pitfall AND a blessing!


  2. I am loathe of the myriad morons who are insipid in their interpretation of the word loathe.

  3. Well, Mo -
    I'll have to disagree with you on this one - it's my JOB to be cognizant of word usage. I don't consider myself a moron in the least.

    But, I'm fully aware that the language continues to change as the educational system refuses to honor vocabulary. I will steadfastly stand by proper usage in the printed media as long as I draw breath (or as long as I breathe).