or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Out of Sorts

Every now and then you see a word you've never seen before, and you think, "Oh, come on! They're just making them up now!" And so it was when I checked the Canada Post website yesterday to locate a package I'm expecting in the next day or two, and read that the status was "Item accepted and entered into sortation plant".


It just seemed unnecessary and made-up: wouldn't "sorting" have done just as well? I think it probably would have, but I can't blame Canada Post for the neologism, because it isn't one: the OED says it's been around since 1844, and it actually does have a meaning that isn't quite the same as (or, at least, a little more specific than) "sorting". "Sortation", according to Answers.com, has become specialized to mean "sorting, especially when mechanized or automated". It's not a word I can imagine using, and I don't think it's essential to the language, but, well, there it is.


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