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Words Aug. 11

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In the Aug. 4 column, we quoted a classified ad: “ENGINEER, P.E. Application deadline: Aug. 6, 2005. Grade 22 — Salary is commiserate with experience.” Then we (and by we, I mean I) said, “They mean commensurate. The engineers won’t notice.” Certainly, we intended to laugh with our friends, the engineers, and not at them. Nonetheless, we received this response: “MANY engineers also did well on the SAT verbals (do they still call them that?) and on behalf of all of them, I am taking umbrage (now there’s a strange word) at your swipe at us in this week’s column. We have great, not grate, influence over vast fleets of cement trucks and earth-movers, and I shudder, not shutter, to think how difficult it would be to get in and out of the Heritage West building [home of the Arkansas Times] if a ten-foot high wall should appear overnight and surround the building, maybe even surround it on all sides! (I believe you let an opportunity slip by a few months ago when a story about some community in the Greers Ferry region revealed that it was ‘surrounded on three sides’. Now I love reading that investigative journalist’s work, but I had no idea she was an engineer!) “And anyway, in Arkansas, salary and commiserate are not disparate concepts. Maybe they meant it that way.” “Keith Jones, P.E. Executive Director/General Manager Central Arkansas Transit Authority” From Fred Keding of Pearcy: “The company writes ‘In answer to your request, we are regrettably closing your account.’ I would have used ‘regretfully.’ Your thoughts?” Errors made are regrettable (“deplorable; unfortunate”). Those who make them are, or should be, regretful (“full of regret; sorrowful”). While admitting that the theft of the presidential election was regrettable, Bush said he was not regretful because ‘If I hadn’t done it, the other guy would be president.’ ” In Mr. Keding’s example, the company probably meant regretfully, although it may have been admitting that its own action was deplorable. Most companies don’t.

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