Towards a Grammatical Title
The word “toward” can be used as one of two parts of speech.
preposition Also, to·wards .
- in the direction of: to walk toward the river.
- with a view to obtaining or having; for: They’re saving money toward a new house.
- in the area or vicinity of; near: Our cabin is toward the top of the hill.
- turned to; facing: Her back was toward me.
- shortly before; close to: toward midnight.
- about to come soon; imminent.
- going on; in progress; afoot: There is work toward.
- propitious; favorable.
And yet, people insist on using it as a verb. A couple weeks ago at work I got an e-mail with the subject line Towards a Digital Curriculum Approval Process for the Campus, and now today Google created a blog post about some updates to Google+ titled Toward a simpler, more beautiful Google.
You cannot, however, towards something. You can move towards something. You can run or skip or jump or sidle or crawl towards something. Towards does not mean “in regards to.” Regarding means “in regards to.”
The thing that irritates me about this is that the use of the word toward in these titles is neither grammatically correct, nor does it actually convey anything. It’s simply the writer trying to sound fancy and important.
A better title for the e-mail would have been simply Digital Curriculum Approval Process or maybe Digital Curriculum Approval Proposal, as it was a request from the graduate studies department on campus to meet with the web team about building a web application to handle the approval process for new or changed classes (which must be reviewed and signed off on by approximately four hundred and fifty thousand people, in a very specific order).
The Google post could have simply been called A simpler, more beautiful Google. Omitting meaningless decorative elements from your communications? Hey, that’s a good way to make something simpler!
I’m all for the evolution of language and whatnot, but this kind of “hey lets word things awkwardly so that we sound like we know what we’re talking about” smacks of corporate management having dialogues where they utilize resources, instead of talking with people about getting stuff done.