Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Warning! Ambiguity Ahead!

I don't understand why reporters persist in using the word "some." As an adjective, it adds little. It actively muddies the waters of understanding.

Remember this equation:

Muddled Writing = Muddled Thinking.

"Some" illustrates this. No, no, don't bother digging up the exact figure. Please, don't even try to estimate a "many" or few." Just toss in a "some." That will do the trick!


Let's look at some examples.

"Wilkins, the banker, said he made some money in the stock market."

"Gov. Bloomberg closed the speech with some thoughts about the budget crisis."

Cut out the "some." That's right, throw it out. The word adds next to nothing in these situations. Try it. You'll like it.

Even when "some" appears needed, take a critical stance. Examine this sentence from the New York Times:

"That could undermine his leverage in Congress, where even some Republicans have expressed concern about major aspects of Mr. Bush's Social Security plans."

This reporter should be questioned about the meaning of "some." Have a couple of Republicans voiced their worries? Have dozens? Try to pin down what the word means.

Because, of course, once we know the quantity that "some" refers to, we don't have to use it.