"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Thursday, May 19, 2005


This post at blatherWatch may be of interest only to curmudgeons and obsessive-compulsive pedants (is there any other kind?), which would explain why I found it so comforting. My favorite part:
My dictionary’s four years old, that’s why the alleged word, PROACTIVE is not in it, so you’ll pardon me if I choose to remain ignorant of its alleged meaning. Hearing it makes me contemplate verbicide--especially when my city councilman uses it three times in one sentence!

Let me say this slowly, so that even Chet and Brittany and the rest of the MBAs and MRSs down at the yacht club might understand - there is no such word as "proactive," and no need for such a word in any event. The opposite of "reactive" is "active." Try it - whenever you are tempted to say "proactive," just say "active" instead and see if it doesn't work. Trust me; it will. By saying "proactive," you reveal your magnificent ignorance to the literate world just as surely as if you use "infer" when you mean "imply." So, please, just stop it.

Having said that, I tremble when I contemplate how many of the author's eminently reasonable proscriptions I violate on a regular basis (at least one in this very sentence, for instance). The problem with pointing out everyone else's failures is that, eventually, you notice your own (and, along those lines, I will note that there is a comma in the first sentence of the excerpt quoted above that should have been a semicolon).

No one ever said being a curmudgeon would be easy.

Update: It occurs to me that sometimes, depending on the context, the opposite of "reactive" may be "inert" - which is a perfectly fine word, but probably not helpful when you're looking for a substitute for "proactive."




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