Usage and Grammar

Q. It’s long-standing software jargon to “save to disk” or “save to file.” Recently I’m seeing “save to list,” “save to album,” and other “save to” constructions in user interfaces and other places where I would use “save in” or other prepositions. Where can I get advice on whether the “save to” construction is idiomatic outside my industry?

A. Jargon in one area often spreads to other areas. It would be difficult—if not impossible—to determine exactly when an expression becomes “appropriate.” You can compare the frequency of specific phrases in professionally published books (which for the most part tend to stick to “appropriate” language) at Google Ngram Viewer. There’s also a searchable database of TV and movie scripts.