Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Garner's off base on this one

I love Bryan Garner's daily word and usage tips, but the one that came in today is off base:

In connection with.

"In connection with" is almost always a vague, loose connective, often used in reporting wrongdoing. Occasionally -- very occasionally -- it is the only connective that will do. Use it as a last resort -- e.g.: "The F.B.I. was searching for Mr. Bailey in connection with the stabbing of his friend, Demming F. Rocker 3d." "Officer's Killer Was Told F.B.I. Sought Him, Detectives Say," N.Y. Times, 28 Nov. 1997, at B8. Here, Bailey may have been wanted for help in solving the crime rather than as a suspect.

But when criminal charges have officially been made, "in connection with" is almost always too fuzzy -- e.g.:

o "Actor Omar Miles Gooding of the television series 'Hangin' with Mr. Cooper' was arrested Friday along with two other men in connection with [read 'for'] alleged theft and firearms violations." "Actor Arrested in Theft," Fresno Bee, 25 Nov. 1995, at A4.

o "Bonds, 26, whose last address was 4 Linden St., Winthrop, is wanted on multiple warrants in connection with [read 'for'] an April armed robbery at a Dorchester pizza restaurant." Ann E. Donlan, "Cops Seeking Murder-Try Suspect," Boston Herald, 28 Nov. 1997, at 16.

There's a reason journalists use "in connection with" in those cases -- to be exactly fuzzy. Call me old-fashioned -- proudly so in this case -- but using "for" carries a connotation that the person did it. Garner, as a lawyer, should recognize the implication. Call me a fuddy-duddy, but a bit of prudishness in defense of civility is, in my view, not a bad thing here.

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At 4/2/08, 4:49 PM, Blogger Mair said...

I thought you were headed in this direction with this post:

That "in connection with" is three words when often one ("in") will do.

I back you, as I was taught, on the "for" being unusable in these examples.

At 4/2/08, 5:09 PM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...



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