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Breaking English rules to please your boss

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by mustangj17, Feb 11, 2010.

  1. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    I'm a little more than a month into my new career adventure as a copywriter and I am already annoyed by the lack of writing skills and general English knowledge at my company.

    The account I spend about 90 percent of my time writing copy for is a large insurance wholesaler. I'm constantly writing e-mails and sell sheets for insurance coverage but the bosses insist the word is coverages. I suppose coverages doesn't sound bad. It's one of those words/phrases people say with out realizing it's wrong. Like "in regards to" or anything else in the stylebook.

    The problem is, coverages isn't a word. The proper would is coverage, with no "S". I've looked it up in regular dictionaries, and insurance dictionaries and the "s" is uneccessary.

    Every time I send a sell sheet to the boss for approval she sends it back changing the word coverage to coverages. It drives me nuts. I finally went into the office and politely explained, to a woman with a PHD that coverages is not a word.

    Her response: Everyone else in the industry does it.

    I like my paycheck so I'm just going to put coverages on the sheets from now on. Nothing like doing something incorrectly just because everyone else is.

    Thanks for letting me rant.

    By the way, anyone else ever have to do something stupid like this? One time at my first gig out of college my editor made me write the score of football gamers to lead with the home team, regardless of if they won or lost. Seriously.
  2. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    Hmmm, I've heard many quarterbacks say, "They disguised their coverages well."
  3. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    From a philosophical standpoint, language evolves. There are all kinds of words in regular use now that wouldn't have been in a dictionary 20, 50 or 100 years ago. Have a look in a 1952 Webster's and see if 'Internet' and 'e-mail' are in there.

    But from a practical standpoint? Your boss signs your checks. You've made your case. If she still wants you to use coveragetastic, then you bite the bullet and do it.

    It would drive me nuts too, don't get me wrong. But you gotta pick your battles. Better to bring up the standard of writing in general -- better sentences, better paragraphs, more concise phrasing -- than to focus your energies (and deplete your reservoir of good will) by squabbling over a minor point.
  4. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    The first rule of English is don't talk about English THERE ARE NO RULES!

    I thought we all spoke American. [/TBAOTI]
  5. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    There's some things you just have to get over if you want to live a happy life.
  6. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    Speaking of having a happy life, SportsJournalists.com isn't blocked at work! Hooray! Ok, back to work.
  7. crusoes

    crusoes Active Member

    It was blocked at your old job?
  8. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    It's just like going to some PR positions where Everything Is Capitalized and Presented By IBM because they see this Championship as one of the season's Greatest Moments.

    You can't convince them coverages is not a word. They won't listen. It's their industry lingo, idiotic as it may be.
  9. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I second this post.

    Hell, the business world has all kinds of phrases, sayings and acronyms they use that would drive me crazy.
  10. Mystery Meat II

    Mystery Meat II Well-Known Member

    See also: rules on using numerals vs. spelling them out
    See also: starting sentences with "but" and "and"
    See also: the New York Times stylebook for acronyms
  11. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I will say, though: The entire "the whole industry" does it is why there's so much interminable bullshit in business writing and memo writing and legal writing and sheriff's spokesmen saying things like "dislodged his firearm" instead of "shot his gun" ... the sad thing is, a lot of people think these things sound educated, when in fact they're interminable bullshit.

    However, it's not worth doing any more than sighing and marveling of the dumbheadedness of seemingly intelligent people and moving along.
  12. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Now you've made me dislodge my gun.
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