Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Curious Case of the Ineffective Caption

Today, I was wasting time doing research on Ted.com and found an interesting video presentation from an innovative designer. As it happens, this innovative designer had an almost impenetrable French accent, but that didn't bother me. That's because I had enabled the subtitle feature, something I do with any TED video that offers the option, and indeed with any DVD movie I watch. (For some reason, I find being able to read along just adds another dimension to the viewing experience. And when you have two obstreperous kids who start whining or wailing during a screening, you can safely ignore their plaintive cries and continue to follow the dialogue.)

Enabling the subtitle feature also gives you the opportunity to snag slip-ups such as this:

I apologize for the ghostly superimposed image of my camera [when are you going to let us upload screenshots, Blogger?]. But surely you see the gaffe in the caption. Affect is most often a verb, as in: "This white noise is going to affect the bejeebers out of you." The word needed here is, of course, the noun, effect. True, in some cases, effect can also be a verb, and affect can be a noun, but we need not concern ourselves with that now. Why not? Because it's complicated and I'm tired. But also because we have much more pressing issues to attend to.

Today, after all, is the day the New Oxford American Dictionary revealed their Word of the Year for 2009. And that word is...unfriend. As in: "I unfriended Sarah Palin on Facebook because I was tired of the way she kept confusing affect and effect." For the rest of the year's nominees, see this article.

By the way, if you're a word nerd and a TED lover (and if you are, will you marry me?) check out Erin McKean's delightful presentation.