Part of my day job involves answering questions from potential customers about my company’s products and solutions. Here’s one that comes up all the time:
Is your solution in the cloud or on-premise?
This new meaning of the word cloud is ubiquitous now, and I think it’s great. I don’t need to know where exactly WordPress saves my blog content — it’s just somewhere out there. “Cloud” captures this perfectly.
Inventing a singular version of the word premises is also ubiquitous in tech-speak, but that usage is like fingernails scraping down the chalkboard of my mind — at least partially because premise is a totally different word. Here’s a web page from IBM that leads with a customer who is supposed to be saying: “I want self-service access to on-premise services and data from the cloud.” But the page also manages to use “on-premises” a paragraph later; apparently IBM hasn’t gone totally over to the dark side.
And here’s an entertaining rant about this usage in technical documents and press releases. Its title is “So apparently we lost the grammar war”:
Seriously I don’t know why this is. The two terms do not mean the same thing and are not interchangeable. Are we all just that lazy that we can’t stumble through the three entire syllables of premises? And if we’re too careless to notice that, what chance do we have of actually paying attention to the technical documents to install these products? (Again, I don’t fault individual usage of IT pros, but vendors’ press releases? Seriously??)
Or maybe this is the evolution of language. It’s shortened, perverted, and flexed to evolve with the times. Fine, let’s call it linguistic evolution.
bt i srsly dont lik it. do u?
The thing is, that extra syllable does make “on-premises” harder to say, especially when it leads into a word like “services” that repeats the sibilant. I predict complete victory for “on-premise”, although saying that gives me a pit in my stomach.
Here’s my example of blackboard scraping. In the Times yesterday we read: “the Torlonia’s ability to cozy up to whomever was in power”. This sounds awful to me but you see it all the time. Of course you can argue that whomever is the object of to and therefore it ought to be accusative. But you can more persuasively I think argue that the object of to is the phrase whoever was in power and therefore nominative is correct. In my view this is an example, not of ignoring the rules but trying to follow them and screwing up anyway. What is the grammarian’s take?
Just between you and I, I believe the grammarians agree with you. Its meaning in the dependent clause trumps the preposition. See, for example,
Compare and contrast: in the same issue of the Times: “He tends to take on the qualities of whomever he’s sharing the song with”.
And that one is correct. And ending the sentence with a preposition is okay, even if some people find it blackboard-scrapy.
Agreed. Actually in the original the sentence doesn’t end where I closed quotes. But even Fowler is not dead set against ending s sentence with a preposition.