“It would be a good idea to prepone the meeting. Please revert back to me as soon as possible”. Each time I see a mail like this, often many times a day, I cringe. And there is not a damn thing I can do about it!
After having experimented with and used the Samsung Note II for about 15 odd days, I reverted to my iPhone 4S and the iOS ecosystem yesterday, because of the release of Google Maps for iOS, whose absence was the main reason I had shifted to Android/Samsung. Yesterday, when driving from Taj Land’s End to Matunga, I had Google Maps running on both instruments simultaneously and both versions work equally well. There is no reason now for me to use Samsung/Android and iOS is still far more elegant.
But that is beside the point. I “reverted” to my iPhone 4S…but I am not “reverting” to you with an analysis of Android versus iOS.
We “revert” to a previous state or situation. We don’t revert to someone about something.
But then, who am I to complain!
Ever since I can remember, I have used “prepone” as the opposite of postpone. “Prepone” has been part of our lexicon for many, many years and I guess it just seemed logical that if “postpone” was an English word, its opposite would be “prepone”. However, “prepone” is not really a word…it has only recently been included in the Oxford dictionary as a word of “Indian” origin, probably because it is universally used in our country.
I am afraid that “revert” as in “reverting to someone about something”, which actually means “to get back with an answer” will also at some point in time make its way into the dictionary.
The two issues though are completely different. Prepone as an opposite of postpone makes some sense. But, to “revert” is to return back to an original or prior state. How does it suddenly start meaning that you will answer the person soon or take action and inform?
Each time I ask one of my managers a question, the reply I get is “I will revert soon”. And each time, I have to stop myself from wanting to correct that person. If everyone from a CEO to a just-passed out student uses this phrase, how many people can you correct? I actually did try once and all I got was a blank look…the person had no idea what I was talking about!
And even if “reverting” to someone is eventually going to find its way into the dictionary as an “Indian” word, what in God’s name, does reverting back mean? If you are going to get back to someone anyway, why would you want to get back twice? It’s like ascending up and descending down!
Language is not a constant and obviously changes depending on the milieu and the situation. English particularly, is perhaps the most accommodating and fluid of the World languages. And what I find cringe-worthy today may perhaps become accepted usage in times to come.
But I still wonder how it all started. Perhaps, in some management school, someone somewhere, thought the word “revert” made sense when replying to someone about a task to be completed…and soon it became a meme that spread like wildfire across the country.
If nothing else, I hope this piece lets people know that one can’t really “revert” back to someone about the preponement of a meeting…all one can do is to revert to using an iPhone instead of Samsung/Android. And in the process, lay to rest, questions about “commitment” issues.