The Angry Grammarian

Are your media as multi- as you think?

By Jeffrey Barg
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Sep. 10, 2008

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"Media" Hordes

I hope you can solve a workplace argument. The communications department and the Web department have been debating the use of the term "multimedia." Our online pressroom includes a section of photos, videos, slideshows and podcasts. We can't call it "Photos and Videos" since that's not telling the whole story. We asked the Web team to change it to "Multimedia Library," but they insist the term is misused and overused. Instead they suggest "Media Library." Can you help us return to our formerly peaceful office existence?

Word nerds, hear my cry: Screw the techies!

They chart out their numbers and write their html code and geek out every time Steve Jobs takes a leak. They're probably right that "multimedia" is misused and overused--particularly in their world. But here its usage is perfectly appropriate.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the adjective simply as "Using more than one medium of communication, artistic expression, etc." And that's exactly what your library is.

It's worth noting that it'd be wrong to use "multimedia" to describe any single entity in your library. In other words, podcasts may be nifty, but they're not "multimedia." But since "library" is what's being modified, your Web team will just have to find a new MacBook or something to get hot and bothered about.

I get that the plural of, say, "attorney general" is "attorneys general." But is the pluperfect subjunctive or whatever it is of "giddyup" then "giddying up" or "giddyupping"?

Finally, a question that gets at the weighty moral and ethical issues of our day. Barack Obama couldn't have said it better.

The dictionary doesn't have a present participle ("pluperfect subjunctive" sounds fancier, but don't make your life harder than it needs to be) for "giddyup," Kramer's very '90s Seinfeld catchphrase. Since it comes from "get up," "giddying up" would technically be the correct form.

But unless you're race-baiting a presidential candidate, quoting the N-word-obsessed Michael Richards probably isn't the most appropriate thing you could do these days.

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1. ecortes said... on Sep 11, 2008 at 06:20PM

“i love our multimedia library!”


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