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Consider the following sentence:

Clean up the design database to initialize costing.

I find the sentence to be confusing but I'm a native English speaker. I asked my wife about it and she responded that “costing is a present participle” and “it's being nominalized (made into a noun), but we're not used to that”.

The author responded with:

"Now costing in pure grammatical sense in this case would be a noun formed from a verb. Something which american english term as verbal noun. (or like your wife mentioned is similar to a present participle). So probably grammatically this is correct"

Which is correct?

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The sentence is confusing because it's jargon. Initialize has a large number of meanings, and so do costing, clean up, and design. Database, hopefully, is not metaphoric, but the rest are. They use a number of incommensurable metaphor themes, and it's simply not clear what's being asked. Moral: most of the time, when something is unclear, it's not a grammar problem. – jlawler Dec 13 '12 at 17:07
This sentence is very confusing, but so are a lot of IT-related tasks. The industry is unfortunately laden with buzzwords and jargon. Microsoft defines "File Costing" here:… – Mark D Dec 13 '12 at 17:36
maybe it's confusing because it's syntactically ambiguous? i.e., clean up [the design database to initialize costing] vs. clean up the design database [to initialize costing] – jlovegren Dec 14 '12 at 1:22
@jlovegren That is possible but humans tend to be pretty good at resolving those ambiguities without ever noticing them. I didn't even realize it was ambiguous until you pointed it out. Reading balor123's question I get the impression they feel the sentence is somehow "incorrect", which makes me think it's a jargon issue. – acattle Dec 14 '12 at 1:31
Expanding on @jlawler 's comment: I think your problem is that you have a hard time separating syntax (grammar) from semantics (meaning). The classic example is "Colourless green ideas sleep furiously". The sentence structure "adj adj n v abv" is grammatical but the problem is that there are logical inconsistencies: colourless things cannot be green; ideas cannot have colour; ideas cannot sleep; one cannot sleep "furiously". In this case, the sentence is using words with a domain-specific meanings (jargon) that you might not know and thus might mistake as being logically inconsistent. – acattle Dec 14 '12 at 1:37

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