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When I am Copyeditor General ...: Online forms will submit to basic language skills


Online forms will submit to basic language skills

In my previous rant perfectly reasonable argument, I drew your attention to examples of the ways the web was becoming a breeding ground for new and completely incorrect verb forms, which were appearing with alarming regularity on commercial sites.

Why does this bug me? Two reasons:

  • I believe a company's lack of attention to detail in language is a reflection of its attitude to its customer base.
  • I'm concerned that constant misuse of grammar spreads, virus-like, among the population. Consider the number of incorrect uses of the word cliché.

But perhaps I'm being unfair. The web is still young(ish), after all; it's a Wild Westy frontier, where every business, non-profit and dog park is expected to have a presence. It would be unfair of me to expect everyone to understand the finer points of grammatical subtlety.

However, I'm pretty sure I can get on my high horse over this:

Or this, from Sony Thailand:

Or this, from Hartwell Elementary School, Harwell, Georgia:

Or this (extra points for getting it wrong when the correct word is 30 pixels away):

It's not as though "submit" is an unusual word. Anyone who has watched Law and Order or Perry Mason (or Matlock, for that matter) has heard someone submit something into evidence at some point. Anyone who has applied to college has submitted an application. Anyone who has ever watched a WWE match has seen at least one orange-tanned, spandex-clad wrestler sell a submission hold.

So how is it that mistakes like these make it into a public forum? I can only assume it's one of the following:

  • The writer of the original content doesn't know what the word means.
  • The site designer or coder doesn't know what the word means.
  • No one who reviewed the finished product knows what the word means.
  • Someone realized that the word was incorrect but assumed customers were too dumb to notice.
  • All of the above.
Copyeditor General's ruling: The only time I should expect to click "summit" is on an interactive map of Everest.


Laura Matthews said...

maybe they're confused with the Yorkshire use of the word:

"I've got summit to tell you."

or they're encouraging people to add things up:

"Click Sum It for the answer."

how do you find this stuff?

LimeyG said...

I did consider the regional dialect possibility (though I'd spell it "summat"). If that's the case, there's some right daft Northerners coding these sites, pet ...

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember Paul Weller using that word when I saw him in concert.

"I'm gonna play you summit from my new album."

- Chris I.

LimeyG said...

So it's not necessarily a regionalism; it's just My People talking. Unless he was saying, "I'm gonna play a track from my new album, to which you will submit." But probably not.

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