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People, it’s “fazed” not “phased”

12.02.06

Have you noticed that the incorrect use of the word “phase” seems to be reaching epidemic proportions? (There’s a vocabulary refresher here if you need it.) For a quick illustration, do a Google News search on “not phased” and check how much the popular press loves to use it incorrectly, particularly on the sports pages. Wayne Ezell offers half an explanation at the Florida Times-Union:

Our July headline “GM: DaimlerChrysler says it’s not phased” was grating for Mimi Grenville, who wondered whether editors knew the difference between phased and fazed. “Somehow there needs to be some proofreading,” she said.

Back in the day, newspapers had proofreaders who reviewed stories, headlines and entire pages, and corrected mistakes. No more. Proofreaders were ushered out of most newsrooms when computers appeared.

Now most pages are “proofed” by an editor, usually after one or more other editors have edited stories, written headlines and placed them on a page. The second or third set of eyes is supposed to see every page, but when deadlines loom or editors are in a hurry, pages don’t get a careful review. At other times, bleary-eyed copy editors miss stuff – or fail to use spell check.

The main culprit is carelessness, though. That coupled with a failure to make near-flawless copy and headlines a top priority.

Maybe, but I can’t help wondering about our public schools.