Thursday, July 30, 2009

Now See What You've Done

You've pissed off a linguistics major.

"Service," I would just like to point out, is not a verb. The verb is "serve." How hard is this? What's the problem with the word "serve," anyway? Do people avoid it because it carries connotations of, well, servitude?

Our information centers, according to some literature my division publishes, serviced over (number) customers last year. Lucky for me, one of my unofficial work duties is occasionally that of editor, for certain materials anyway. I changed it to "served." Servicing customers does not sound like a proper thing to do at all, unless they're cars, maybe.

They are not.

Do you know, I've gradually come to accept such linguistic abominations as "transition" and "incentivize." I'll accept those, because they fill a void; "to transit" doesn't mean at all the same thing as "to transition," and "to undergo/cause/effect a transition" is unwieldy. "Incentivize" hurts a little worse, largely because the term was coined by sales-and-marketing bottom-feeders. But I will admit that "to incent" doesn't really work, and "to incite" means something different altogether. So, knock yourselves out, bottom-feeders! Incentivize away. I won't so much as murmur.

But "service" is a whole nother thing. "This has been bugging the crap out of me," I said to the pamphlet editor today as I stopped into her cube to make the change. "It makes it sound like we're giving people hand jobs."

The problem with saying something like that in a cubicle environment is that it makes people's heads pop up over their cube walls. There's a term for this, which I won't get into, because I have enough linguistic problems when rodents aren't involved.

This is a quick post, and I hope to make more in the future. My heart hasn't been in it. Too bad, I say: I'm bringing my netbook to my favorite coffee shop and diving back in. But now I have to go, because I'm covering lunch at the information center. Time to go service some customers.

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At July 30, 2009 7:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Servicing customers! LOL
So are you supposed to ask if they'd like a "happy ending"? ;)


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