Usage Tuesday: PIN Numbers and ATM Machines

This one comes up a LOT when I’m discussing linguistic pet peeves with others, but I’m not the one who brings it up. It seems the uses of ATM Machine and PIN Number really bother people, because the M in machine stands for machine, making the unabbreviated phrase automatic teller machine machine. Similarly, PIN Number means personal identification number number.

I don’t know why, but this doesn’t bother me. I am sure there’s a very, very reasonable explanation for my not being bothered by these redundancies (or by VIN Number), but I can’t come up with it. Yes, redundancies bother the snot out of me, but I wonder why this one, which seems to stem simply from people’s trying to explain something clearly (What kind of machine? ATM machine! Which number? PIN number!), bothers so many people while these redundancies seems to bother most people not at all when they are the result of people’s trying to sound smarter, more eloquent, or, or, or something!

So what about you? Are you one of those people who grind their teeth whenever someone says she needs to make a stop at the ATM machine? And if you are, are you similarly bothered by each and every or every single?

Weekend Photo: Stray Bullets

Stray BulletsThis weekend’s photo comes to us from one of those promotional event posters you see just about anywhere in Hawaii they’ll let you put one up (always a goldmine for material!). The problem here, as you can see, is that there is a bullet on every line, even though some of the items take up more than one line. The purpose of a bullet, I don’t have to tell you, is to distinguish one item in a list from the other items. When you have a bullet in front of every line of a multi-line item, you might as well not have any bullets at all, right?

This is probably not an error in not knowing what bullets are for, but in (a) not knowing how to use the bulleted-list tool in MS Word and (b) not caring enough to proofread and edit carefully.

As you probably know, when you’re using the bulleted-list tool in MS Word, you get a new bullet every time you hit the ENTER key. Multi-line items don’t usually present problems because of Word’s other useful pre-programmed functions, such as word-wrapping and margin-setting. However, in those times when a forced linebreak is required but NOT a new bullet, you can use SHIFT-ENTER instead of ENTER, and this will force the type to the next line without creating a new bullet! Give it a try!

–> Oh yeah. There’s also the use of Get Away where getaway is appropriate, and the rampant, unnecessary capitalization. Someone’s English teacher is tearing up right now.

* note: This works in just about all word processors I’ve tried in the past ten years.