LET­TER OF THE MONTH

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On page 90 of the Au­gust is­sue, you used the word “in­sure.” Per­haps there is a dif­fer­ence be­tween Bri­tish and Amer­i­can us­age, but I was taught that the word “in­sure” is solely used for in­sur­ance. Oth­er­wise the word to use is “en­sure.” Bill Boyd

That’s what we were taught, too. We messed up here, even though we learned this rule of thumb to en­sure proper use: “i” for fi­nan­cial, else “e.” Things like this creep into lan­guage over time, some­times through mis­use, but also be­cause big­ger pub­li­ca­tions than ours lead the way with de­ci­sions which then fil­ter down to com­mon use through ex­po­sure. This in­stance is a mis­take, and your con­struc­tive feed­back is ap­pre­ci­ated.

We en­deav­our to use lan­guage well, though we don’t al­ways get it right. It’s easy for soft­ware guides to become laden with sloppy use of lan­guage – that is, overly ca­sual de­scrip­tions of in­ter­ac­tions when try­ing to teach read­ers. Clar­ity of ex­pres­sion is some­thing we try to keep in mind, from plan­ning con­tent to the day pages go to press. But, if we make a mis­take or a mess in ex­plain­ing some­thing, please get in touch.

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