Friday, 22 July 2011
Confusing couples (4)
· Chartered and (un)charted
Sometimes people write “I found myself in unchartered territory” (usually meaning it in a figurative sense and referring to having found themselves in an unfamiliar situation). But to use unchartered here is incorrect. To map an area is to chart it; an unmapped area is therefore uncharted, not unchartered.
The hiring of an aircraft or boat for a particular purpose is called chartering. Such a craft is called a chartered craft, and the journey concerned is therefore a chartered trip (e.g. a chartered flight), not a charted one (in most normal contexts).
· Close and closed
One sometimes sees notices outside shops publicising the fact that “close circuit” technology is used there for surveillance purposes. But it should be “closed-circuit”, of course. Even an electronic non-expert like me would understand a “closed circuit” to mean that the cameras and monitoring screens are connected in a kind of closed loop by cables, or perhaps some wireless device, and are confined to that limited application or area – they are not part of a more “open” system, where images are transmitted to, say, TV screens in people’s homes. It would make little sense to call such an installation a “close” circuit.
Sometimes a bit of research may be necessary if we want to know why certain words are the way they are. I used to wonder about the word close in close corporation, for example, convinced that it should be closed corporation (i.e. not open, or publicly traded). When I went into it, however, I discovered that close was simply a different way of saying closely held.
Pay attention and take the time to use a dictionary … My mantra, pretty much – both to myself (constantly!) and for others to heed in the pursuit of "tidiness" and zero defect.