Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: vice versa.

vice versa. “Vice versa” (= the other way around; just the opposite) should be the fulcrum for reciprocal referents. That is, “Mike likes Ellen and vice versa” says that Ellen also likes Mike. The subject and the object could be switched around, leaving the verb intact — e.g.: “You can adjust the slide to allocate more storage at the expense of programs or vice versa — up to a point.” John D. Ruley, “Jog WinCE’s Memory,” Windows Mag., 1 Oct. 1997, at 279. (The writer means that you can have more programs at the expense of storage.) But some writers misuse the term in trying to imply something different from (or sometimes even analogous to) what they’ve just said — e.g.: o “They have eased restrictions to an odd-even rationing system under which residents at odd addresses can water on odd days of the month, and vice versa.” Lauren Dodge, “Battle Ground Now Awash in Water Issues,” Oregonian (Portland), 18 Aug. 1997, at B2. (A possible revision: . . . “residents at odd addresses can water on odd days of the month, and those at even addresses on even days.”) o “The higher the put trading, the more bullish the indication and vice versa.” “Market Week,” Barron’s, 29 Sept. 1997, at MW92. (A possible revision: “The higher the put trading, the more bullish the indication; the lower the put trading, the more bearish the indication.”) o “Lykken reflects on the identical twins who ended up as different as two people can be — a Jew and a Nazi. If they had been switched, with the one who was raised a Jew being given to the German mother and vice versa, he speculates that the one who lives as a Jew now would have become a Nazi.” Mark Schoofs, “Fear and Wonder: How Genetics Is Changing Our Lives,” Village Voice, 30 Sept. 1997, at 43. (The writer isn’t saying, by “vice versa,” that the German mother is being given to the one who was raised as a Jew. No: he’s trying to say that the other twin is given to the Jewish mother. For “and vice versa,” read: “and the one raised as a German to the Jewish mother.”) The phrase is pronounced either /vIs VUHR-suh/ or (a little pedantically) /VI-suh VUHR-suh/. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ————————————— Quotation of the Day: If you would learn to use words with force and skill it is well first to use short words as much as you can. It will make your speech crisp and give zest and tang to what you say or write. Frank Gelett Burgess, Short Words Are Words of Might (1939), in Weigh the Word 104, 105 (Charles B. Jennings et al. eds., 1957).
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