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Community and Q&A

Another vocabulary dispute

Martin Holladay | Posted in General Questions on

After reading Joe Lstiburek’s recent article on cellulose, I felt the need to champion the cause of usage and spelling by pointing out that a contractor can be instructed to dense-pack cellulose, but the resulting insulation is “dense-packed cellulose.”

“Packed” is a past participle. I urge my fellow writers not to drop the “-ed,” lest we fall into Clinton-speak — you know, the old faux-bubba routine in which he dropped his g’s: “I’m glad to see your smilin’ faces today.”

I have posted my rationale on my old vocabulary blog, Green Building Vocabulary Disputes.

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  1. Steve El | | #1


    (hopefully anyway)

    Martin, Did you really "felt" the need to champion proper use of language?

    Steve El

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    OK, I didn't feel a need, I experienced an impulse. Better?

  3. Chad Statz | | #3

    Be careful Robert......lest we all forget Clinton saying "That depends on what your definition of 'is', 'is'"?

  4. Riversong | | #4

    Let's not forget that the only reason Clinton said "That depends on what your definition of 'is', 'is" is because the Republicans couldn't find any evidence of criminal activity and had to resort to impeaching the president for a sexual dalliance, which made us the laughing stock of the world (with the French saying that, if their political leaders DIDN'T have affairs, they would be impeached), and demeaned one of the most important constitutional checks on the abuse of power.

    But that's politics, not linguistics, and we shouldn't go there.

    Here is a legitimate semantic peeve:

    An astounding number of highly educated speakers, including many in the news media, use introductory clauses like "The fact of the matter is" as a subjective phrase and follow it by the very same verb the clause ends with, such as: "The fact of the matter is, is that Clinton's awkward attempt at explanation should never have been forced by his rabid political enemies."

  5. Steve El | | #5

    I apologize for my lame attempt at vocabulary humor, Martin. Some version of the verb "to feel" was and remains just fine with me. I found humor in the past tense form "felt" to describe a present tense state of mind in a post about language. Of course, most normal people don't find that sort of thing funny. Just ask my wife! Foolishly, she ad libbed a wedding vow to always laugh _convincingly_ at my puns.

    Steve El

  6. Brett Moyer | | #6

    Energy AND grammar nerds.

  7. Riversong | | #7


  8. Riversong | | #8

    As a stickler for clear and accurate language, I think the common usage of "dense pack cellulose" is fine, as it is meant to differentiate itself from attic "loose fill cellulose" (not loose filled).

  9. Jim Bannon | | #9

    I'm wondering if it should be "densely packed cellulose"? All kidding aside, as long as the thought is conveyed without question, hasn't language done its job?

  10. Riversong | | #10


  11. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #11

    Martin, should Flash and Batt be referred to as Flashed and Batted?

    Seriously, should it?

  12. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #12

    No. "Run and jump" can be an athletic event, and "flash and batt" can be a technique.

    Someone should batt you on the head for suggesting we use "batt" as a verb.

  13. Steve El | | #13

    There is a lot of "flash and batt" on some street corners.....

  14. James Morgan | | #14

    I think that 'densely-packed shredded recycled cellulose fiber insulation with borate treatment to prevent pest infestation' should be the preferred term. That's what I write on all my specs.

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