Q:

What does "surveillance should precede saltation" mean?

A:

Quick Answer

"Surveillance should precede saltation" is a way of saying "look before you leap." Because surveillance connotes both observation and supervision, it's a changing of the common phrase that is obtuse and short changes the subtlety of the word surveillance.

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Full Answer

Saltation, while rarely used, is a fairly straightforward equivalent of jump or leap. Precede is a not uncommon usage indicating the quality of going ahead or before something or someone. Surveillance, however, is not synonymous with something as simple as look. Surveillance implies the observation of someone or something that is in custody or under suspicion or both. Therefore, the use of surveillance as an equivalent for look in this case is inapt.

An overly complex analogue for "look before you leap," "surveillance should precede saltation" is an example of what one commentator refers to as a "sesquipedalian expression," sesquipedalian being itself a cumbersome synonym for polysyllabic.

John Mark Ministries, an organization that asks its followers to "think maturely about the Christian faith," features a number of sesquipedalian expressions on its website under the heading "Complete These Proverbs." While many of the alleged proverbs seem a bit pedestrian they do provide amusing, brainteasing, tongue-twisting variations on common expressions. One of them is "surveillance should precede saltation."

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