When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

14 December 2006

I'm liable to teach you something

Some readers have objected to the inclusion of the word "pedant" in the description of "enrevanche," above, but I'm here to tell you that I earn it (almost) every day.

A recent e-mail:
To: comments@zogby.com

Was taking a recent Zogby poll, which asked some basic questions about ethical behavior and then transitioned quickly into some legal hypotheticals, in which I came across this howler:

"On a scale of one to five, with one being not libel and five being libel, how likely are you to find Dr. Smith libel in this case?"


"Libel" is a correctly spelled word with a completely different meaning than "liable," which is the word you were looking for.

Here, let me help you out:

"Liable," in a legal sense, means to "to be legally responsible for." It is also an adjective.
(See: http://m-w.com/dictionary/liable)

"Libel" is a form of tort in English and American law involving the written publication of false and defamatory information about an individual that damages the individual's reputation (the verbal, nonwritten equivalent is "slander.") It is either a noun or a verb, depending on whether you are describing the defamatory statement or the act of publishing it.
(See: http://m-w.com/dictionary/libel)

I stopped taking the poll at the point at which this question appeared; if this is the level of care you take in preparing your polls, why should I even bother to answer the questions? This one was clearly slapped together in about five minutes by someone who is obviously borderline illiterate and quite possibly drunk.

Don't you know that there are editors and proofreaders who can't find paying work? They're right there in your hometown, maybe stocking shelves in the supermarket where you shop.

Go find some, and hire them.


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