Hi, Folks! It’s Marcia again, and since this is my only turn at bat for July, today’s Why Write Wrong post is another two-fer. (Just so you get your money’s worth, and all. 😊 )
As you may know, this feature is all about incorrect word usage, specifically for those times when a writer uses one word, but actually means something else. Everyone makes errors like this now and then, myself, included, but I know we all want to catch these things before sending our work out into the world. And that’s the goal of these posts. Consider them a narrowly-focused mini-peek into a dictionary, if you like.
Today, I’m going to start with a word I hear being misused just as often as I see it. Let’s take a look at what people frequently say or write, as opposed to what they really meant to say. The word being used incorrectly so often is “unchartered.”
Almost always the speaker or writer is trying to say something is new territory. An unknown or unexplored area. Unmapped, if you will. And it’s that last one that should help the most. Map = chart. If you are describing an unexplored place, idea, or even a situation, uncharted is the correct adjective.
Synonyms for chart include map, diagram, and graph.
Correct: The brave canoeist boldly paddled his way into the the uncharted waters ahead. (He was boldly going where no man had ever paddled before.)
Incorrect: Francine started her first day as an editor knowing she was heading into unchartered territory. (Francine may not be long at her new job if she continues to make these kinds of errors. 😀 )
On the other hand, a charter is actually a contract, agreement, or license. If you are writing about a corporation or other group entity that is in the process of being formed, then you could correctly describe it as currently being unchartered.
As a verb, charter can also refer to the act of leasing something, like a bus or fishing boat, so technically, you could make reference to an “unchartered” bus, though it’s much more likely to be described as simply being “available.”
Synonyms for charter include written instrument, deed, contract, and franchise.
Correct: When the meeting takes place next week, the charter will be signed and approved for our new franchise.
Also Correct: My club would like to charter a tour bus for a southwestern adventure .
So there you have the basic differences between uncharted and unchartered. Of course, one could also charter a boat, then sail it into uncharted waters, if one were as brave as the pirates and buccaneers of old. 😀
Now on to the next half of this post, wherein I tackle two more words that are often used incorrectly, and frequently pronounced wrong, as well. Let’s talk about cache and cachet.
Cache is a one-syllable word pronounced “cash,” just like money.
Cachet is a two-syllable word pronounced “cash-AY.”
And I believe this is the reason so many use these words incorrectly. Cache looks like it could be pronounced “cash-AY,” so is often used in place of the correct word–but the “e” in cache is silent. Honest.
CACHE: (Remember – pronounced “cash”)
1. A hiding place especially for concealing and preserving provisions or implements.
2. Something hidden or stored in a cache.
3. Computer memory with very short access time, as in “a cache file.”
4. As a verb, to cache means to store something or to put it in a secure hiding place for purposes of concealment.
Synonyms for cache include: deposit, hoard, reserve, storage, and stockpile.
Correct usage: The wizard’s cache of magical artifacts was guarded by
a fearsome gatekeeper.
CACHET: (Pronounced “Cash-AY)
1. A characteristic feature or quality conferring prestige, importance, or position.
2. Less often, a seal used especially as a mark of official approval.
Synonyms for cachet include position, rank, standing, stature, and status.
Correct: Being a silent film start simply doesn’t have the same cachet it once did. (Just ask Buster Keaton …
… or Lillian and Dorothy Gish.)
And there you have it, folks. Uncharted vs unchartered, and cache vs cachet. Was this helpful for some of you? Give us your thoughts below, because, as always inquiring minds wanna know. Thanks!
I’ll be back next month with a post on Building A Local Readership and, of course, another Why Write Wrong for you. In the meantime, don’t forget to follow along each week for all kinds of writing tips and information from the rest of the SE family! And here’s wishing you happy hearts in these troubling times. Remember, if you really want to be happy, no one can stop you. 😀 See you soon!
I am not an English teacher, grammarian, or expert on all matters of this nature, but I promise I have consulted with those who are before posting anything in this series.
(All images above were created by me or obtained from Pixabay.)