Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Quickies: Semantic Noise Alert

     Perhaps I’ve grown too Curmudgeonly for the World Wide Web. In this frothy piece at PJ Media, I found the following sentence:

     A computer video game is a complex digital machine -- with an almost infinite number of moving parts that nobody can see.

     This is one of the worst sentences to appear on the Internet in 2016. Shall I count the ways?

  1. A “computer video game” is software. To call it a “machine” is to attribute characteristics to it that it does not have. If the author meant to include the computer or console, he should have done so explicitly.
  2. “Almost infinite” is a nonsense phrase. If the writer meant to say “huge” or even the more figurative “innumerable,” he should have done so.
  3. Software – see point #1 – has no “moving parts.” It’s a tissue of computations and decisions.
  4. “That nobody can see.” What’s the point here? That the player can’t look into the workings of the program as he plays the game? Not only is this a nonsense phrase; even considered figuratively it conveys nothing of substance.

     Twenty-one words; four major semantic gaffes. For enhanced competitiveness in the end-of-year Semantic Noise Olympics, perhaps the author should have included the word “literally” somewhere.

     Have the writers and editors at one of the DextroSphere’s premier news and opinion aggregators decided that standards of clarity and precision in written expression no longer matter?

2 comments:

Glenn Stone said...

Yeah, that quote is really dopy but as an old assembly language programmer I have seen a lot of references to code as machines. (loops and such referring to reciprocating machinery, etc).

With great trepidation and knowledge of pain and old age refer you to Mark Rippotoe and weight training for what might ails ya. My 81 year old back still has pain but I can throw things around the yard with abandon 'cause I can squat 125#. None of my Goddam business I know

best glenn

sent from my hearing aid

Adrienne said...

The writer really needs to add "most unique" to his sentence.