Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Usage pet peeve

Here's a language irritant: the use of the word "tract" when the word "track" is meant. I see this when someone is writing or talking about a course of action, or a plan of study, such as with career development.

These words do not mean the same thing. Track can mean a course of action; a way of proceeding. Tract means an indefinite extent or expanse, or it can refer to a major passage in the body, such as the digestive tract. It also refers to a pamphlet or treatise, such as a religious tract.

So, obviously, when one is talking about developing a selection of continuing education courses or following a particular career path, the word to choose is "track," as in "My daughter is on the college prep track at her high school," or "He's following the 'How to be a Better Communicator' track of career development courses."

1 comment:

bluggier said...

Linda, there are other language irritants in the same genre as your example. The use of except and accept is one.
These even appear in advertisements and other professional work. I know I'm not perfect, but I do proof my work...even this reply.
It seems that many irritants develop by confusing different words that have similar pronunciation. I'm not sure of the cure...that's best left to someone smarter than I am.