SIR: Please write about the use of "incidence" for "incidents." It has become epidemic these last few years. - Barbara S.
ANSWER: You've noticed that, too? The incidence of errors on this score does seem to be increasing and that's unfortunate. No doubt it has never occurred to some sinners that "incident" and "incidence" are different words with different meanings. Let's hope your complaint will call their attention to the error of their ways.SIR: I can't understand why a person says he is going to the "bathroom" when he is in a public place. Shouldn't it be "restroom"? - N.N.
ANSWER: No; it's a euphemism. And note that while, as your question suggests, people don't go to public bathrooms to take baths, neither do they go to restrooms to rest. For that matter few people go to a toilet to groom and dress themselves, and at least some who go to a powder room don't even powder their noses. If you don't like any of those euphemisms either, you can always say you're going to the little boys' room or the little girls' room, provided you're a little boy or a little girl.
SIR: Recently there was a discussion in your column about when to celebrate a decade. I would not think there would have been a year zero, but a year one. Therefore, the year 10 would end the decade and year 11 would begin the next decade. So 1990 should end the decade and 1991 would begin the next. - Roy S.
ANSWER: Thank you. We've called off that discussion, but you provide such an eloquent argument on my side of the issue that I can't resist using it. Any objections to your logic will, of course, be ignored.
HARD QUESTION of the week, from Dr. E.W.:
"Recently I received an advertisement for a `light generation system,' with a picture. Is even English resilient enough to stand the onslaught of those who would call a flashlight a light generation system?"