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July 05, 2006

Language Police

I have heard (and made) a lot of complaints about The Ann Arbor News, but overall it is a pretty good paper. Ann Arborites who like to pretend that they are exiles from more cultured parts of the country (which is actually most people affiliated with the University) and who can afford to (ie not grad students) also subscribe to The New York Times, but I suspect this is more to keep up their street cred than anything else because the News reprints a lot of stories from the Times, and everything else is available online.

Not that I read much of either, but David reads the News religiously (in fact, he used to get quite pissy if anything prevented him from completing his nightly News-reading ritual) and passes on to me articles he thinks I might like, or articles he thinks I might hate, or articles he just wants me to read. Which, last night, was the entire sports section because Steve Yzerman, my favorite Red Wing, just announced his retirement. Though I'm not much of a sports fan, I have developed an appreciation for our local teams since I have been hanging out with David, and the articles about Stevie were very sweet. But I couldn't help being offended by the sentence "Steve Yzerman has had a profound affect on the history of the Detroit Red Wings." I don't know why it bothered me so much -- perhaps because I am the daughter of an English professor -- but I'm sure that a copy editor at a real newspaper would know the difference between affect (verb) and effect (noun).

Granted, it is not quite that simple because both affect and effect are both nouns and verbs:
affect: (v) 1. To have an influence on or effect a change in; 2. To act on the emotions of; touch or move; 3. To attact or infect, as a disease; 4. To put on a false show of; simulate; 5a. To have or show a liking for; b. to fancy or love; 6. To tend to by nature, tend to assume; 7. To imitate or copy. (n) 1. Feeling or emotion, especially as manifested by facial expression or body language; 2. A disposition, feeling, or tendency.
effect: (n) 1. Something brought about by a cause or agent; a result; 2. The power to produce an outcome or achieve a result; influence; 3. A scientific law, hypothesis, or phenomenon; 4. Advantage, avail; 5. The condition of being in full force or execution; 6a. Something that produces a specific impression or supports a general design or intention; b. A particular impression; c. Production of a desired impression; 7. The basic or general meaning, import. (v) 1. To bring into existence; 2. To produce as a result; 3. To bring about.

It would be appropriate to say that Stevie had a profound effect on the team, or that he had the ability to profoundly affect the team, or that he effected a profound change on the team, or that he affected the team in a profound way.

So, can I have the job?

Posted by eklanche at July 5, 2006 10:46 AM

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