July 21st, 2004
Terror vs. terrorism / everyday and every day
by Barbara Wallraff
Don Herzberg, of Sharon, Vt., writes: “When and why did the media start saying ‘terror’ instead of ‘terrorism’? My guess is that the change was made because President Bush couldn’t say ‘terrorism.’”
Dear Don: Now, there’s a wild conspiracy theory: that the media have collectively decided to ape President Bush. But this theory turns on whether the president can in fact say “terrorism,” doesn’t it? Let’s see. It’s true that during his State of the Union speech last January, Bush said the word “terror” five times. But he did also say “terrorism” -- just once. He said “terrorist” or “terrorists” 14 times, though. Surely these words are as hard to pronounce as “terrorism.” I’ll grant you that Bush has his own way of saying “terrorism” and “terrorist”: “terrism” and “terrist.” But so much for your theory.
Gary Greenwell, of Detroit, Mich., writes: “I’ve long been annoyed by dumbed-down advertising, but at least many of the examples of this are intentional stylizations. One thing I commonly see in national commercials and print ads appears to be an outright mistake: expressions like ‘Half-price everyday’ rather than ‘every day’ or ‘daily.’ Isn’t that wrong?”
Dear Gary: It sure is. I see “everyday” misused a lot too. And frankly, I’m mystified about why people have trouble with it. Most of us do just fine at distinguishing between similar pairs. Consider “everybody” and “every body”: “Everybody wears clothes.” “Every body is different, so people wear different styles and sizes of clothes.” Likewise, we can tell “everyone” and “every one” apart: “Doesn’t everyone like to look good?” “Every one of us likes to look good.”
© Copyright 2003 by Barbara Wallraff. Reprints require prior permission. All rights reserved.