I had some free time today, so I perused Peck’s English Pointers. (Frances Peck is a well-known Canadian editor.) Here’s a sentence submitted to Peck for her scrutiny:
The department continues to progress this matter at a high priority and, given the magnitude of change and rule harmonization required for reflectorization of every rail car in use between the U.S. and Canada, it is being progressed as quickly as possible.
The person who submitted the sentence, which was written by a government worker, wondered about the use of reflectorization. (If you ask me, there are greater problems afoot in this sentence!) Peck’s answer about reflectorization might surprise you, but what I found most interesting was her mention of progress correctly used as a transitive verb. I had no idea it could be used that way.
I bet nine out of ten editors would have changed progress to advance. Progress sounds wrong somehow, doesn’t it?
Of course, how something sounds is little indication of its correctness. I’m thinking of commas used to indicate oral pauses (incorrect) or sentences such as “He’s taller than I,” where than is considered a conjunction by traditionalists (correct but uptight!).
Here are more tools for writers, courtesy of the Canadian government.