Head in a blender

The English language vs cloud discussions - A horse walks into a bar

Andy Pedisich   January 21 2012 03:54:41 PM
I was busily downloading a bunch of presentations from Lotusphere 2012 when I once again, for the upteenth time, happened on the incorrect usage of a word.  This word is being kicked around a lot because of all of conversation around cloud services.

The presentation I was looking at had a slide with the title: LotusLive vs. On Premise

The expression in question is "On Premise".  I have heard and seen it in print and heard it for months, and almost every Lotusphere presentation got it wrong.  But today, for some reason, reading it hit me like the sound of fingernails on a blackboard.  Allow me to elucidate.

The following is the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of the word "premise".
Image:The English language vs cloud discussions - A horse walks into a bar

Premise is such a wonderful word because it has two totally different meanings.  The meaning depends on whether it is used in it's singular or plural forms.  In its singular form, the word means a proposition, or something taken for granted.  In its plural form it sometimes means more than one premise, but in most contexts it means a piece of property, or more to the case of cloud discussions, a building.

A premise is like the setup for a joke.  For example:

Premise: A horse walks into a bar....

That's the premise of the joke.  This would be followed by a punchline:

Punchline: The bartender says, why the long face?

If you accept the premise, you probably get the joke.  Henny Youngman was full of these jokes with a premise and a punchline.

Premise: A doctor gave a man six months to live.
Punchline: The man couldn't pay his bill, so he gave him another six months.

Premise: The patient says, "Doctor, it hurts when I do this."
Punchline: "Then don't do that!"

Premise: I just got back from a pleasure trip.
Punchline: I took my mother-in-law to the airport.

That's what a premise is.  So when you're trying to decide whether to keep your equipment and services in a building, or in the basement, or in any tangible place that you own and is not the cloud, please PLEASE use the plural form of premise, which is premises!
Image:The English language vs cloud discussions - A horse walks into a bar

It only takes a split second to add that little old "S" to the end of the word Premise to make it the correct usage of the word in the context of where you want to put stuff.  Just remember, you will never, ever be successful putting your equipment on the premise.  Unless you are a comedian, that is.

Premise: I don't want to keep all the equipment here on the premise...
Punchline: ...on the premise that the decision will get me a promotion!

Don't encourage the idea that technical geeks are weak with words.  Give the words a fighting chance to express themselves!


03:54:41 PM January 21 2012