The Usage Curmudgeon – What Exactly Does the Dow Experience?

The usage-peeve pages in the top right-hand column are under a new name, “The Usage Curmudgeon” (formerly “Do Words Matter?”) These pages explore the ways in which, through usage, common words take on strange new contexts. Here’s the newest entry:

What Exactly Does the Dow Experience?

From an unlikely source comes another usage peeve: Christa Tippet, host of the NPR show “Speaking of Faith” (at 7 a.m. Saturday morning, the only talk radio available as I sort clothes for the laundry) mentioned, at the top of the hour, that the Dow Jones “experienced” a precipitous drop….This was the umpteenth time recently that I’d heard about a non-sentient entity “experiencing” something—e.g., my cable company was “experiencing” service disruptions, or Amtrak was “experiencing” delays.

Well, no. Actually, we’re the ones who experience these things. The Dow drops, and we experience dismay, fear, a sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach. Cable service is disrupted, the train is delayed, and we experience frustration, or worse. Read on…

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