September 20th, 2006
Preplanned / pretexting
by Barbara Wallraff
Debra Wells, of Windsor, Ontario, writes: “‘Preplanned,’ referring to anything, annoys me. If something is planned, obviously it’s dealt with before the fact. Since a funeral, for example, is planned, does ‘preplanned’ mean those involved are planning to plan? Who comes up with these phrases?”
Dear Debra: Do you mean, besides “preplanned funeral,” phrases like “preapproved mortgage,” “preboarded passengers,” “precooked food,” “pre-owned car” and “prerecorded message”? Usually organizations or industries, rather than individuals, come up with such foolishness. And industries have the power to make silly phrases stick by using them over and over again until they become, simply, the way it’s said. (Bank customer: “Good morning. I’d like to try to get approved for a mortgage today, before I decide on a house to buy.” Loan officer: “You mean you want to be preapproved.” Customer: “Aren’t I ‘preapproved’ now -- until you’ve approved my application?” Loan officer: “No, you won’t be preapproved until I approve you ...”)
Doug Gordon, of Rochester Hills, Mich., writes: “The recent Hewlett-Packard boardroom dispute introduced (to me, at least) the word ‘pretexting,’ which means ‘obtaining information under a false pretext.’ OK, I’ll buy that. But I have seen a few articles recently where the word was hyphenated: ‘pre-texting.’ This really threw me for a loop. The problem is that the verb ‘to text’ means ‘to send a text message to someone’s cell phone.’ So my brain interprets ‘pre-texting’ as meaning something that is done before sending a text message. I had to look up ’ in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia to make sure I knew what it meant. Does this make any sense to you?”
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