I had a Twitter conversation recently with Ashleigh Grange of Plush Text Communications and Janine Libbey of P & L Translations about words we dislike. Ashleigh’s language bugbear of the day was incentivise, Janine’s prioritise and mine diarise. My current handbag-book for the train and doctors’/dentists’ waiting rooms is “The English Language” by David Crystal. I was surprised to find there that diarise has been setting people’s teeth on edge since 1954. The first edition of Sir Ernest Gowers’ “The Complete Plain Words” listed it then, along with publicize, hospitalize, finalize and casualize (employ casual labour), as words to avoid. By the time the third edition came out in 1986,
the objections to publicize and the others are no longer cited. Instead, new -ize words are mentioned as currently attracting opposition, such as prioritize and routinize.
Confession: I find incentivise quite useful in certain contexts. In sentences, for instance, like “The Italian Government has passed a new law incentivising energy-saving and the use of renewables” (referring to specific incentives such as tax breaks).
We all have words we love or loathe, not necessarily for any rational reason. If I find incentivise and prioritise useful in their concision, why do I dislike the equally concise diarise so much? Anyway, I’d love to hear your pet hates, rational or not, in the comments.
By Marian Dougan