DR. ENGLISH: Wise to the Words 

Geoprofessionals write more than just about any other professionals, are constantly under the gun to produce now, and are personally liable for every word they write in their professional capacities. And because the best legal evidence always is what’s in writing, wise geoprofessionals want to be certain that what they say is unambiguous, so it is not subject to interpretation and so limits the ability of others to claim,

“What the geoprofessional wrote was ambiguous, making the geoprofessional liable for the consequences because professionals are supposed to write clearly.”

Words to the wise:

Unless you are trying to be ambiguous, always select words that have the fewest alternative meanings. Therefore, when you want to discuss causality, use “because,” because “since” has a meaning with respect to time, and because “as” – popular usage notwithstanding – does not mean “because.” Likewise, when you’re talking in terms of quantity, use “more than” instead of “over,” because “over” has more meanings than “more than.”

Engage in such exercises not only to help reduce ambiguity, but also to remind yourself that, by choosing words effectively, you perform more professionally. The career you protect will be your own.