aka, e.g., i.e., etc…

I really shouldn’t have to do this. I mean, it’s not my job. Hundreds of usage sources have policed the distinction between e.g. and i.e. But now the waters get muddier. Behold, I give you aka, which a colleague today used in lieu of i.e. Call it “aka aka i.e.

Aka (or AKA or a.k.a.) stands for also known as, but not for words or concepts. As every law enforcement officer and criminal attorney knows, aka introduces a person’s alias — e.g., Lester Gills aka Baby Face Nelson. And since I just used it, e.g. stands for exempli gratia, Latin for “for the sake of an example.” On the other hand, i.e. stands for id est, Latin for “that is.” So use aka for aliases, e.g. for examples and i.e. for clarification. For the sake of examples:

This estimate includes all technical services (e.g., web development, server hosting).
In this case, web development and server hosting are examples of technical services. This implies there are other technical services not listed here.

This estimate also includes certain non-technical services (i.e., project management and billing).
In this case, the words “project management and billing” clarify “non-technical services.” They are not meant as mere examples, so the implication is they are the only non-technical services referred to in the estimate.

Your account manager will be Will Sakituya aka Slappy the Sales Guy.
I’m not sure an explanation is needed here.

One other sighting deserves mention. A common convention in my company is to end a list of examples with etc. This is incorrect as any list of examples is by definition incomplete. I also observe following etc with an ellipsis (…) — e.g.; Marketing will undertake a number of initiatives (e.g., inventing weasel words, obfuscating language, etc…). I really don’t get this. It’s as if the writer is paranoid readers will assume the list of examples is all-inclusive and wants to emphasize “NO! There’s more!” That’s not an unreasonable assumption, given that many in the business world (e.g., graduates of marketing programs) exhibit questionable reading skills (i.e., take everything too literally) and insist on stretching out closing sentences, incorporating the headline words, rambling on and on, etc…

— Otto E. Mezzo aka Robert Pen Warring

Sorry if I deleted your comment (or: Something People Are Missing)

I had to step away from Lexicide for a bit, and when I returned I had more than 2,000 comments in my inbox, 100% spam from the looks of it. So I just tagged everything as spam and deleted it. If you submitted a comment in the past two months, please resend it — and accept my apologies for equating you with reconstituted lunch meat. I’m sure you meant to send me a Treet® instead of Spam®.

— Otto E. Mezzo


Bad Writing: the movie

I came across an interesting movie trailer, about a failed poet who gets schooled in his, um, abilities, by the George Saunders, Margaret Atwood and David Sedaris.

In a related article in The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about the “sheer terror of confronting yourself on the page,” and that “the process by which writing goes from bad to good” fascinates him.

We at Lexicide are slightly more fascinated with the reverse.