Use of the term "Spike"?

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Seems like "spike" should be the Word of 2020; I hear it repeatedly in every newscast.

But I think it is being used incorrectly. To me, a "spike" in some statistic means an unusually high value, over a short time period, and with a rapid return to the prevailing value. So, if you plotted whatever vs. time and saw a "spike-shaped" rise and fall in the value, then you could say "it spiked."

I don't think it makes sense to say "COVID deaths spiked again today" unless there were a lot more deaths today than yesterday. And even then, that would be a "surge." If the number on Tuesday was much higher than on Monday, and then came back down on Wednesday, then you could say "they spiked on Tuesday."

What do you think?
 
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  • #2
gleem
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It seems appropriate using the definition of a sudden or rapid increase.
 
  • #3
Vanadium 50
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I agree, but this is hardly the sloppiest use of language. It's hard to do worse than "the number of fatalities has not come down since March". It should never come down. That's not the covid pandemic, that's the zombie apocalypse.
 
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  • #4
phinds
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What do you think?
I think you need to just get used to the fact that in America today, newscasters, for whom one would expect language to be a highly regarded tool, use proper, precise, and accurate language only by accident, if ever.
 
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russ_watters
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I think you need to just get used to the fact that in America today, newscasters, for whom one would expect language to be a highly regarded tool, use proper, precise, and accurate language only by accident, if ever.
Using language accurately often gets in the way of what they are trying to do....though accepting that admittedly just changes the problem, it doesn't eliminate it.
 
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phinds
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Using language accurately often gets in the way of what they are trying to do....though accepting that admittedly just changes the problem, it doesn't eliminate it.
I don't see how that could be so, but even if it IS, it is NO excuse for incorrect use of proper pronouns, which something like 80% of them are guilty of. They simply don't care about language.
 
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something like 80% of them are guilty of
A spike in confusion between subject and object?

EDIT
and I agree, it is bad enough when regular people use sloppy grammar, but you'd think a journalist (whose business is conveying information) would know better.
 
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gleem
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.....but you'd think a journalist (whose business is conveying information) would know better.
However, they work for people who want to make money too and many (most) of their readers do not necessarily care about proper word usage or grammar.
 
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However, they work for people who want to make money too and many (most) of their readers do not necessarily care about proper word usage or grammar.
I don't understand your point. Are you saying, it costs more to speak correctly? Or, is correct grammar off-putting to the prospective viewers?
 
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phinds
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However, they work for people who want to make money too and many (most) of their readers do not necessarily care about proper word usage or grammar.
That has always been the case but in past years would never have been considered a meaningful point by any respectable journalist.
 
  • #11
256bits
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That has always been the case but in past years would never have been considered a meaningful point by any respectable journalist.
I think that is a correct point of view.

The news is a type of entertainment, and that holds especially true for the video kind, and the internet kind. So words, and news clips, are chosen more ( I agree more often than before ) for the click bait, impact, stay tuned quality, tying to give the impression that "our" news is better that the other guys. Viewership reflects upon advertising revenue.
 
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russ_watters
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I don't see how that could be so, but even if it IS [snip] They simply don't care about language.
This was my point:
However, they work for people who want to make money too and many (most) of their readers do not necessarily care about proper word usage or grammar.
That has always been the case but in past years would never have been considered a meaningful point by any respectable journalist.
I think calling the person you see speaking on a newscast a "journalist" is as optimistic as calling the person telling you what the weather is a "meteorologist". One might hope there's a relevant profession in there somewhere, but it isn't required and often isn't the case. Moreover, the person speaking is often just reading what someone else wrote.

The primary purpose of a newscast is to draw viewers of advertisements. The most effective way to do that is to portray what is being reported as Really Important so that the viewer feels compelled to watch, which means using amplified language where-ever possible, regardless of the impact on accuracy of language use. I don't think this is a problem that is new since Hearst.
...it is NO excuse for incorrect use of proper pronouns, which something like 80% of them are guilty of.
That I'll agree is probably sloppiness.
 
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  • #13
jim mcnamara
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The Covid-19 literature I read is littered with the word spike in relation to viral structures. A sample of 20 papers from a Google Scholar search had zero occurrences of "spike" in terms of numbers of cases reported. Maybe my sample was not representative.

I'm guessing your samples came from news releases and articles meant to be read by non-scientists and on-air reporters. Popular science reporting. So please share some examples from the Covid-19 journal articles you saw with this construct. You know - JAMA, Nature, Cell.... Then maybe it is something to consider.
 
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A spike in confusion between subject and object?
Unless I missed something, what you were talking about was the use of "spike" as a verb rather than a noun, not its use as a subject instead of an object.
There are many words in English that can function both as a noun and as a verb, function being one of them, and can being another, as well as being.
 
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Unless I missed something, what you were talking about was the use of "spike" as a verb rather than a noun, not its use as a subject instead of an object.
Correct.

The thread deviated off into misuse of pronouns by news media (e.g, "me and Bobby went to the grocery store"). These are instances of using the objective pronoun "me" where the subjective "I" is appropriate. At least, that's how I understand it.

Further complication of the thread occurred when it was noted that the virus itself has "spikes" (noun) which isn't what I was talking about either.

All in all, starting this thread may have been a mistake; closing it might not be.
 
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Correct.

The thread deviated off into misuse of pronouns by news media (e.g, "me and Bobby went to the grocery store"). These are instances of using the objective pronoun "me" where the subjective "I" is appropriate. At least, that's how I understand it.
##\dots##
I wince at the misplacedly conscientious use of 'I' where 'me' belongs, as in 'will you be going to the store with Bobby and I?' ##-## that almost always is confined to instances of the form 'object and object' ##-## pretty much no-one ever says ' Will you be going to the store with I?'.
 
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wukunlin
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When I saw the title I thought this is about a way to slide in baseball where there is a high tendency to injure the defensive player.
 
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Klystron
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When I saw the title I was struck by serendipity. Due to Covid-19 library closures I am reading old novels for relaxation. Just before encountering this thread I read a description of principle character Gene Trimbell in 1976 science fiction novel "Trouble on Triton" by author Samuel 'Chip' Delany.

Known far and wide by her nickname Spike, she leads an itinerant theater group who perform micro-theater for intimate audiences written, acted, produced and directed by the Spike.

Film maker, writer, actor and director Shelton Lee is known exclusively by his nickname Spike Lee.

The union of east and west transcontinental railroads in 1869 was celebrated by driving in a ceremonial Golden Spike. This historical symbol became the core element sought by the characters in live action animated 1992 science fiction fantasy "Cool World".
 
  • #19
256bits
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Unless I missed something, what you were talking about was the use of "spike" as a verb rather than a noun, not its use as a subject instead of an object.
There are many words in English that can function both as a noun and as a verb, function being one of them, and can being another, as well as being.
Isnt' the evolution of a language par for the course.

English, AFAIK, not like some other languages in some countries where they want to ensure the purity, does not have an official "administrator" , except perhaps one could look a schools doing this job partially.
If a word in English takes on a new meaning over time, I suppose one could say so what.
Some words are lost and new ones added, and others change meaning.
After a generation or so and the "hurt" is no more.

For a while, the quark thing had me going.
What's a quark ( for Muster Mark ), color charge, up,down, charm, strange, top, bottom - it made no sense in reference to what I thought those words meant.
 
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