Sunday, August 16, 2009

Points of Contention: Copy Challenge.

Dispute 1

The Usage: The use of "troop" as a singular to describe a soldier.
The Correction: An editor let me know that he changed my headline because I referred to a single soldier as a troop. I was confused: Hadn't I seen this all over the place? I searched around. Well.... sort of. CNN, for example, had a headline that referred to "50 troops wounded." So wouldn't that mean troop is being applied to soldiers as individuals, and therefore is interchangeable with "soldier"? I appealed to a former boss of mine whose opinion I trusted (subject line: Help me Obi Wan).
The verdict: He replied, "Troops is a plural term, never singular. The derivation is from World War I (or earlier) and Troupers, which became Troopers, with the plural shortened to troops. But we don’t use Trooper as a singular anymore. Soldier is always better (unless it’s a Marine, which gets capitalized)." I was wrong.

Dispute No. 2
The Usage: Geico, in reference to the insurance company.
The Correction: "Isn't GEICO all caps?" I said during a review. "I don't think so," the writer said. "I think it is," I said. "I can check, but I'm pretty sure it isn't," she said.
The verdict: GEICO technically stands for the Government Employees Insurance Company. It's an acronym and the company uses all caps for it all over their Web site. I was right. (Pretty small victory compared to the gaffe above.)

Also, Uncomfortable Moments is 4 years old this weekend. It's hard to believe that the first post went up that recently. It feels like longer.


  1. Wow! Four years! I do remember reading your blog when my baby was just a few months old. Now, he's 4 (my oldest is 7), singing "Thriller" and asking the barber to cut his hair like Tom Brady.

    I'll write what we put on his 4th birthday cake: "4 More Years!"

  2. Ha! That's funny, thanks. My sister's kids are really into "Thriller" too. I guess that's better than "Beat It" or "P.Y.T."


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