Monday, May 16, 2011

An A to Z of Editorial Peeves: J

In my opinion, J is an underused letter. More words should start with J.

But they don't. Which is why this week's list of editorial peeves is so short.


When I started researching this post, I learned that the word jargon has a number of different (and downright contradictory) definitions. I had planned on peeving all over the use of jargon in general text, but the more I researched, the more I realized that jargon deserves a post of its own here on Logophilius. I hope it will come soon, don't you?

But the use and avoidance of jargon boils down to the basic tenets of good writing: write for your audience and be clear. It's as simple and as difficult as that.

Just Deserts

This is a shining example of a popular eggcorn. The phrase is "just deserts," not "just desserts" (they're pronounced the same, though). It's not too difficult to remember once it's been pointed out to you. If someone gets their just deserts, they're getting what they deserve. The relation between deserts and deserve isn't accidental; deserts used as a noun this way comes from the Old French word for "deserve."

The eggcorn makes sense, though, doesn't it? Dessert is what one gets at the end of the meal, and just deserts is what one gets in the end. Because the eggcorn version makes so much sense (more sense than the original, in my opinion), I don't expect "just desserts" to go away anytime soon.