[ASC-list] Science CommunicationS

Rob Morrison rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au
Mon Feb 25 23:30:53 UTC 2013

Hear hear! Listining to commentators sayting KilOMeter is as irritating as listening to a repeated sniff. I'd add to this list that the great cliche of science reporting, "breakthrough" and wonder why so many scientists misuse the terms of their trade such as "theory" when they mean "hypothesis", "Proof" where there is support and why so many ubiquitously use  "bug" for everything from computer faults and stomach ailments to spiders, viruses and lethal bacteria. No wonder people are so hopelessly confused about when (and when not) to take antibiotics.

People argue that words become misused because people go for the shorter if incorrect version (eg "like" instead of "as if" or "as though"), but that explanation falls down when you hear "for free" instead of the shorter "free" and the incessant parrotting of the 4-syllable "absolutely" instead of the 1-syllable "yes". Trying to help the young understand that "like" goes with nouns while "as" goes with verbs is now pointless when they are no longer taught what nouns and verbs actually are.

Cliches in reporting, or course, are not restricted to science writing. Does anyone ever die of cancer these days without dying after some kind of "battle with cancer" (usually a long one), while the poor old Queenslanders last year were beset with either a "wall of water" or an "inland tsunami" in alternating reports.

As we shed journalists (especially older journalists who have some grammatical insights) we can expect much more of this, and those who are shot will be "gunned down", small towns enduring a calamity will suddenly become "tight-knit communities" and things not going to plan will inevitably "spiral out of control"

Rave over. Count me in.

Dr Rob Morrison
rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au
Phone: (08) 8339 3790
Fax: (08)8339 6272
From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] on behalf of David Ellyard [david at davidellyard.com]
Sent: Sunday, 24 February 2013 10:50 PM
To: 'Lamberts Rod'; 'Jenni Metcalfe'
Cc: list at asc.asn.au
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Science CommunicationS


My target of my abhorrence is spoken not written. It is all but just universal pronunciation  of “kilometre” with the same stresses as “thermometer”, rather than as with “centimetre”. I blame Gough Whitlam (one of the few things I blame him for, though there are others). I have mostly given up on it but it still riles.

I also hate “for free” (meaning at no cost), but that is not limited to scicomm.

Count me in.

From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Lamberts Rod
Sent: Monday, 25 February 2013 9:24 AM
To: Jenni Metcalfe
Cc: list at asc.asn.au
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Science CommunicationS

I'm on that old and cranky team, too Jenni! Though I confess sometimes I give up when I see that fiendish 's' <shrug>


On 23/02/2013, at 10:44 AM, Jenni Metcalfe <jenni at econnect.com.au<mailto:jenni at econnect.com.au>> wrote:

Is there anyone except me who gets annoyed by the use of the word “communicationS” – i.e. communication with an S on the end?

As my colleague, Wendy Parsons, pointed out when I was working at CSIRO almost 18 years ago… this use of the word generally relates to cables, wires and similar infrastructure.

Perhaps, I am just getting old and cranky?

Jenni Metcalfe
Director, Econnect Communication
phone: 07 3846 7111; 0408 551 866
jenni at econnect.com.au<mailto:jenni at econnect.com.au>
skype: jenni.metcalfe
PO Box 734 South Brisbane Q 4101
subscribe to Econnect's free monthly e-newsletter: http://www.econnect.com.au/news_newsletter.htm

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Dr Rod Lamberts
National President
Australian Science Communicators

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