26 September 2009

Grammar Police

I like to think that I am very good at ignoring the myriad ways in which the English language is abused in the many things I read these days. But there are still lines, and sometimes they are crossed.

Some of you may know that Google, Apple, And AT&T are all sending letters back and forth to the FCC to comply with the FCC's investigation of Apple's decision to reject the Google Voice app for the iPhone. AT&T sent their response yesterday, and basically they blamed it all on Google. This was mostly dumb, but I'm not interested in the arguments, just the language used.

Please let me emphasize: this was a formal letter of response to the Federal Communications Commission concerning an on-going FCC investigation. It has footnotes. At the same time, it's only 4 pages long, and it was months in the making. So it seems fair of me to expect it to be edited and proofread and perhaps even, I'll not say well-written, but at least grammatically sound.

Here's the line:
By openly flaunting the call blocking prohibition that applies to its competitors, Google is acting in a manner inconsistent with the spirit, if not the letter, of the FCC's fourth principle contained in its Internet Policy Statement.

I'm guessing that with my learned audience of 5 readers it's not even necessary to say that the word flout (not flaunt) means to disregard openly a rule or law or authority. The word flaunt means to display something ostentatiously, to show off one's excess wealth or pretty jewelry. One simply cannot flaunt a prohibition, and just because words sort of sound alike doesn't mean they are substitutable.

Obviously I won't even mention the fact that in all the many places where this line is being quoted on websites, no one is including the needed sic.