Montreal sweaters get complicated

The Montreal Canadiens have started putting accent marks on the players’ jerseys. It never occurred to me that they weren’t there, but now that it’s been pointed out, I wonder why it’s taken so long.

“I like to write things the right way,” said Pierre Gervais, the longtime equipment manager in charge of putting name bars on the Canadiens’ uniforms.

General Manager Marc Bergevin signed off on the idea, and voilà, linguistic sports history was made. Montreal is the first N.H.L. club to have a policy of rendering players’ names accurately on their uniforms.

Seems like a no-brainer: “rendering players’ names accurately.” Gervais says that the reason they never did it before was because the cloth that the names are sewn onto was too narrow, as though cloth comes in only one size and can never be made differently. But now, with technology, cloth comes in many sizes! Lame excuse, Pierre.

Gervais said the accents were made possible by technology. Until recently, the strip of cloth for name bars was too shallow.

At any rate, I’m glad that Montreal is the first team to do it.

Daniel Briere Montreal Canadiens accent marks
Montreal center Daniel Brière will finally be able to play hockey without the embarrassment of having his last name spelled wrong on his sweater.

Going forward, I see potential upside to synergies

But only if we can leverage our core competencies!

It’s been a long time, everyone. Have you missed me? Of course you have.

I’ve been away for the past few months getting used to my new day job at Morningstar, the financial people, not the sausage company. That’s right: High Finance. I bring the street to Wall Street. Or something.

Anyway, in addition to learning about daytime commuting, I’m also learning a great deal about stocks, markets, Big Business, “financials,” P/E ratios, forward earnings, trailing 12-month earnings, CAGRs. It’s a little overwhelming sometimes, but fun. I remember feeling like this before, back when I worked in the Sports department of a newspaper even though I wasn’t a “sports guy.” You get the jargon wrong in a baseball story, your coworkers will torment you for a long time.

The language of finance is really, like with any other specialty, very much its own language. The editors try to keep the jargon to a minimum, but it’s a losing battle, I’m afraid. Fact is, in any specialized industry or field, its language is a large part of what distinguishes it. Legal writing, medical, academic — a certain amount of jargon indicates authority. But it’s also often used to exclude, to show off, or to cloud meaning (obfuscate!). And the audience, too, expects a certain amount of jargon or it can feel like you’re being talked down to. Most readers of financial documents know what EPS means, so do we need to spell it out for them? I think that might be insulting to some readers. But readability is important, too; nobody likes to read a bunch of abbreviations or other shorthand.

It’s unlikely we’ll eradicate jargon, nor should we strive to. It’s just a matter of balance and purpose, I guess. Like editing any other kind of copy: You want accuracy and clarity, with a focus on readers.

Required reading for any language person

I’ve encountered my share of know-it-alls and fussbudgets in the editing (and writing) world, many of whom probably really believe they are doing God’s work and making the world a better place by pointing out every single misspelling, misplaced comma, or unconventional usage.

I wrote about the topic earlier this year when people corrected President Obama’s grammar on Reddit, but this blogger’s series of posts are far more graceful and informative. If you work with words, either writing or editing, or are interested in language at all, her posts should be required reading.

Fact is, language is hard, and some people are better at it than others. And there are a lot of people who only think they’re good at it. Best policy, as with many things, is to be less judgmental.

I love random and unnecessary quotation “marks”

The sign on the breakroom bulletin board read:

“FREE”

To a good home.

“GERBILS”

This menaced me for a long time. “Gerbils”? Was that code for something I wasn’t familiar with? And “free”? Very suspicious.

I am very glad that websites like this exist to showcase this kind of thing. It’s beautiful. (I am also a little bitter that I didn’t think of creating a blog like this myself.)

Featured on www.unnecessaryquotes.com.

An exciting development in political punctuation!

In the waning days of this presidential election season, the two major campaigns are doing everything they can to squeeze out every last vote.

It’s an exciting time in American politics. So exciting, in fact, that the Obama campaign decided it was time to add an exclamation point to its “Forward” slogan. This replaces the period, which, oddly, generated a little geeky controversy.

While most polls show the two camps are close, this move by Obama is likely to propel his prospects. If he manages to take this election, it will be because of this bold punctuation decision.

Mark my words.

Before. Just a boring old period.
After. Same slogan, but now with more excitement!