"What really teaches man is not experience but...


December 03, 1993

"What really teaches man is not experience but observation. It is observation that enables him to make use of the vastly greater experience of other men, of men taken in the mass. He learns by noting what happens to them. Confined to what happens to himself, he labors eternally under an insufficiency of data."

-- H. L. Mencken

* * *

ARRRGHHHHH! She did it again!

Regular readers of this space may recall we recently took a local TV anchorwoman to task for not knowing the meaning of the word "contingency." During her coverage of the NAFTA vote in Washington last month, she kept referring to a group of NAFTA opponents as a "contingency." She should have said "contingent."

Just a bad night?

Nope. Apparently, it's a habit with this woman (whom we won't name, although her initials are C.C. and she works at a station that isn't WJZ or WMAR). This week, as her station covered the National Football League's announcement that Jacksonville had won an expansion franchise, this same anchor asked a colleague for the reaction of the Baltimore "contingency" in Chicago.

It's "contingent," lady! Got it? "Contingent"! As wise editors everywhere like to say, when in doubt, cut it out.

Our advice: Cut out "contingency" and just switch to a simpler word. "Delegation" maybe, or "group." Or "folks." Or "guys." Anything but "contingency." Please.

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