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Prevalent offers



Prevalent means "widespread; in general use or acceptance" and "having the superiority or ascendancy." Is your personal information generally accepted? Maybe, and maybe not. Is it superior to my personal information? Probably, but I think the writer here meant prominent, not prevalent.

A high school football player, when asked about colleges that might give him an athletic scholarship:

"Arkansas and Florida State are probably the two schools that's been sending me the most personable mail, handwritten letters, besides the four schools that have offered me." To whom are they offering him, and who gave them ownership, anyway? This use of offer, common on the sports page, hasn't made it into standard English, where the scholarship and not the athlete is offered. In the non-sports world, if we're soliciting a bid, we say "Make me an offer," not "Offer me."

I also wonder if it was the player or the reporter who described his mail as personable, rather than personal.

"He said he deflated the canoe and drug it with one hand, pulling the bucket with the other." Michael Klossner asks, "Is 'drug' as a verb OK in a news article?".

The propriety of drug is warmly debated. I know a judge who insists on drug in his court. When I objected (I practice a little personal-injury law as a hobby), he said "Be quiet or I'll have you drug out of here." I considered an appeal, but there's no telling where the Scalia court would have you drug off to. Someplace with waterboarding, I imagine.

In standard English, dragged is still the only past tense for drag, according to most authorities, including Random House. But a lot of people say drug, and seem surprised to find that it's considered irregular. Some of these people, like the judge, are high-placed and supposedly well-informed. Garner's Modern American Usage quotes President Bill Clinton using drug in a 1996 debate with Bob Dole.

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