More squeals of wisdom and pearls of annoyance on the never-quiet battlefront known as the English language.
The first category is words that don't quite mean what the speaker or writer intends.
Classic autumn example: "untracked," that blissful state into which Joe Gibbs is forever trying to get his Redskins. As Albert P. Toner of Arlington suggests, it would make more sense for Joe to get his charges "tracked" -- as in, aboard a train that's following the tracks to victory. That didn't happen until Sunday against the Bears,but that's a matter of blocking and tackling, not grammar.
Another sinner: the television graphic that reads "Please Stand By." Bob Yunger of Gaithersburg says he loves his couch very much and is getting awfully tired of obediently leaping to his feet every time the picture goes blooey. Wouldn't "Please Wait" be less ambiguous?
On the singulars-that-aren't front, we have nominations from Terry Monks of Reston and Norris C. Hekimian of Gaithersburg.
Monks read a review in The Post the other day that awarded "two kudos" to a singer. Not possible, Terry notes. There's no such word as "kudo." It's reminiscent of the old gag about being a little bit pregnant. You either get kudos (one heaping serving, but never more) or you don't.
Hekimian forwarded a form used by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Rather than use the word "building," the form refers to the address of a "premise." Strike three, MNCPPC. "Premises" is the only form of the word that can be used when referring to a structure. A "premise" is the logical foundation of an argument.
Over in Lewes, Del., Theodore H. Projector has come up with a neat mnemonic to prevent himself from pronouncing "defense" incorrectly:
"De cat jumped over defense, defeat before detail."
"Woman reporter," "woman physicist," and all such constructions. Shouldn't it be "female"? asks David Gill of Glover Park, properly.
"A power outage." When they fix it, do they call it an "onnage?" wonders Alex Fraser of Mount Rainier.
And Anne Bolgiano of Derwood, Md., says it'll be just fine with her if she never again hears, "That's a whole 'nother matter." Far better, she notes, would be the slower, but so much more correct, "That's another matter entirely."
Fragment fury has gripped Marion Holland of Chevy Chase. She read a sentence in The Post last month that began: "As far as the New York Yankees, under Billy Martin's guidance . . . " "Puhleeze," Marion writes. "'As far as they are concerned' or 'As far as I know' - anything to rescue that pitifully dangling and meaningless 'As far as.'"
Along Redundancy Row . . . .
Ned Dolan of Garrett Park caught our California correspondent, Jay Mathews, in a recent reference to "female waitresses." Love to see the male version, Ned jibes.
Meanwhile, Eleanor Lee Templeman of Arlington says they never used to add the second half of "tuna fish" back home in California, so why here?
Keith Wiesley of Northwest says he still hears "whether or not" by the barrelful. "There is only one alternative to 'whether'," Keith notes, "so it does not have to be stated."
Mrs. C. E. D. (she's so mad that she's bashful) writes from Arlington that Channel 4's weatherpersons are forever reporting that "the temperature is dropping down." She would like to say that she's never seen anything drop up.
Mark G. Bergstralh of Gaithersburg says he still winces when he hears TV announcers refer to Japanese cars as "foreign imports."
And Joseph Switkes of Bethesda found a rare gem: a triple redundancy in the same phrase.
The guilty party is W. Bell and Company, which advertised Rolex watches in The Post much of the summer. "A prestigious timepiece," said the Bell copy. "Flawlessly (1) perfect (2) in every way (3)."