Posted by: cochinblogger | June 22, 2010

E-Mail Gaffes

A colleague told me about an e-mail-related mishap involving a co-worker in another company he was employed with. This person, under pressure from his boss for an immediate response, was typing fast, and somehow “details of the job below will follow” mutated into “details of the blow job will follow.” Worse, he did not proofread his message and clicked Send as soon as he was done.

His boss had a good laugh when he learned what had happened. Not all bosses would be so easygoing, though, and one can easily imagine situations in which such an error could have catastrophic consequences.

This reminded me of another little incident narrated to me by another friend. A colleague in her office replied to an American author, telling her that he would “intimate her as soon as the information became available.” The author took offense at the word “intimate.” It is a word that is a part and parcel of officialese in India, but the author imagined that her hapless correspondent was propositioning her. On further investigation, I discovered that this usage is virtually unknown in America, if not in the U.K. The verb “intimate” is present in the dictionary as a verb, but has become so old-fashioned as to be unfamiliar.

And, besides, the correct form is “I will intimate the information to you as soon as it becomes available.” The preposition “to” is required. “I will intimate you” is wrong, and could very well sound like a threat to a member of the opposite sex having a bad hair day.

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