Sunday, November 14, 2010

Revert Back??

 Mahesh Vijapurkar wrote this piece for our benefit:

The Mid-Day, a Mumbai-headquartered tabloid daily, bravely reported on 11 November 2010 that the new Chief Minister had obtained an apartment at cut-price citing false income numbers. The report was based on Right to Information application by an activist and to get the CM’s version, it made numerous futile attempts to contact him.
His aide, the newspaper reported, promised to “revert back with his statement” but nothing like that happened, till the time of going to the press. Seeking the other side of the story is the right thing to do but to say “revert back” is not.
What does revert mean?
It means going back to what was, for instance, when ice melts, it goes back to being water – what it was. A person changes his way of life to return to what he did earlier. It is going back to the former state. Or in discussions, you resume the subject once given up or halted. It does not mean get back, which is what the Mid-Day sought to suggest the words meant.
Mid-Day is not the only newspaper to use this phraseology to convey that the person did not contact the newspaper as promised. This is often heard in even intelligent company where people are generally otherwise better aware of the language’s nuances. But it is still not the right expression – best avoided.
And yes, if it is to revert, then why the redundant ‘back”?