Magazine article Communication World

Nucor's Iconic Leader Remembered for His 'Principals' in Lame Encomium. (Wood on Words)

Magazine article Communication World

Nucor's Iconic Leader Remembered for His 'Principals' in Lame Encomium. (Wood on Words)

Article excerpt

My East Coast edition of The Wall Street Journal for 4/17 presented on page A17 a roster of testimonials for E Kenneth Iverson, pioneering Nucor executive who died April 14. If the huge Charlotte-based steelmaker paid retail for its full-page notice, the tab was just a tad over US$142,000. A fair price, considering the real estate involved.

But what struck me as grossly unfair was whatever fee Nucor paid its copywriter. The three-sentence encomium at the base of the page included this: "Nucor's 8,400 employees are saddened by his passing, but committed to his principals." Bummer. Nucor and its late iconic leader deserved far better treatment than this; the following appears on p. 465 of "Words into Type": "principal, principle -- Still confused, despite appearances on every list of misused words of this century and last. Principle (n.): a basic belief or truth ('Stick to our principles'); principal (adj.): most important ('His principal demand')."

Next to mis-chiseling the name on a tombstone, this may be as bad as it gets.

* Several years ago a high-budget magazine named Massachusetts in Perspective was published to tout the Commonwealth as a good place in which to start a business. Under the subheading Literature, readers were told about the Bay State's great tradition of literature and its links to such illustrious authors as "Samuel Elliott Morrison...Archibald McLeish."

How does a writer develop the temerity needed to tackle two such names without even a glance into a biographical dictionary? The mandatory spellings are: Samuel Eliot Morison...Archibald MacLeish. Mind your p's and q's as well as your I's and t's and r's and a's. Word-workers with this kind of hubris will also assure you that Joyce Kilmer was a woman and George Sand, a man.

* Is the U.S. Coast Guard guilty of an occasional voyage into the Sargasso Sea of gobbledygook? Local news media reports seem to suggest this:

A Boston newspaper, reporting on the cause of a collision between a Coast Guard cutter and a freighter, quoted the USCG finding that the cutter's skipper "did not comprehend that the vessels were in a meeting situation...." Whatever happened to dependable on a collision course? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.