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This isn't supported by any rule of usage, it's just personal aesthetic taste, but I suggest that the recent trend by anti-latin types towards forcing round latin loanwords into awkwardly square English pluralizations—rather than simply using the latin pluralization—produces ugly words. This is especially true of formerly second declension neuter nouns. It's media, quanta, stadia, memoranda, addenda, aquaria, etc., not mediums, quantums, stadiums, memorandums, addendums, aquariums, etc. It is referenda not referendums, fora not forums, gymnasia not gymnasiums, maxima and minima not maximums and minimums, dicta not dictums... Although I confess that I balk at the thought of listing the alba in my CD collection!
* The accepted approach until recent decades, and still the accepted approach with appropriations from languages like french: "SolicitorS-general"!
Ron Rosenbaum takes apart the stupid "Shakespeare didn't really write the plays" nonsense club, and the stupid movie that goes along with it.
No, Ms. Broussard (or ABC copyeditor), you are not interested, or uninterested; because you have skin in the game, however, you are not disinterested. Disinterested = lacking a stake in the game, impartial ("my interests will not be harmed either way"); uninterested = lacking curiosity about, giving no attention to, or having involvement in ("football is not among my interests").
Amazingly, this controversy consumes nearly two and a quarter pages of MW's usage dictionary, so it can't be so easily tossed aside as a straightforward malaprop. Fowler's 3d observes that the construction of the word is open to the "uninterested" meaning, and that it's making a strong bid for legitimacy in current usage, even though (as Garner's ODAUS observes) "[l]eading writers and editors almost unanimously reject" the fad. On the other hand, MW suggests that the distinction was carved out out by American writers in the late 19th century. I think that is a little dubious, but we can say that at least a century of tradition supports the "impartial"/"lacking a stake in the outcome" usage, and that ought to settle it.
But there is an affirmative and practical reason to insist on strict usage on this point. If disinterested and uninterested are allowed to fuse and become redundant synonyms, the usefulness of the English language is diminished, even if in a small way; our stock of valuable distinctions is reduced by one more word. It should be possible for a writer to use the one he means and have his meaning clearly understood. For this reason if none other, we should insist on stomping out the use of "disinterested" as a pretentious variant of "uninterested."
The internet, the FCC tells us in its new network neutrality rules, "is comprised of a multitude of different networks." FCC 10-201, at 30. Is it really too much to ask that a federal agency grasp the difference between "comprise" and "compose"? The internet may be said to comprise a multitude of different networks, or to be composed of such a multitude. Here's an easy way to remember the difference: The whole comprises the parts; the parts compose the whole. See Garner, Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage 187 (1995), and, e.g., Fowler's 3d 167-68 (Burchfield, ed. 1996); Partridge, Usage and Abusage 74-75 (Whitcut, ed. 1995); Merriam-Webster's Usage 273 (1994).
Schoolboy errors do not encourage confidence in agency competence, and the substance of the rules lives down to the quality of the commission's English.
"The U.S. military aircraft carrier USS George Washington sets sail from Yokosuka naval base." As opposed to all those civilian aircraft carriers, and non-American ships sailing with the prefix "United States Ship"?
Refudiate has been named the New Oxford American Dictionary’s 2010 Word of the Year!
refudiate verb used loosely to mean “reject”: she called on them to refudiate the proposal to build a mosque. [origin — blend of refute and repudiate]
. . . .
Although Palin is likely to be forever branded with the coinage of “refudiate,” she is by no means the first person to speak or write it—just as Warren G. Harding was not the first to use the word normalcy when he ran his 1920 presidential campaign under the slogan “A return to normalcy.” But Harding was a political celebrity, as Palin is now, and his critics spared no ridicule for his supposedly ignorant mangling of the correct word “normality.”
“Normalcy,” says Merriam-Webster’s 1994 Dictionary of English Usage, after reciting its just-mentioned intersection with Presidential history, “is now a perfectly reputable word, recognized as standard by all major dictionaries.” Op. cit. at 665. On the other hand, H.W. Fowler sniffed at it (Dictionary of Modern English Usage, 1st ed. at 382), which is reason enough to reject it, and his heirs have divided on the question: Compare Fowler’s 3d, at 528 (embracing it), with Garner's Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style, at 230 (rejecting it as a needless variant).
Of course, Merriam-Webster also notes that while Harding, like Palin, was a polarizing figure, normalcy, unlike refudiate, was not new coinage. Harding merely popularized the term, and it might be fair to say that after the turbulence of association with Harding, the word returned to its previous glidepath into the language. (While ABC notes that "refudiate" has some minor history, I think it's fair to call the incidents it relates malapropisms rather than coinage.)
A short and rapid demise, or a long fight for acceptance a la normalcy?? Oxford's bid to catch the zeitgeist is satisfying in the sense that it will gall Palin's critics, but the word itself seems unlikely to stick.
Jan Freeman investigates the horrible malapropism "I could care less," a locution frequently substituted for what the speaker meant, which is "I couldn't care less." This particular bit of illiteracy gets under the skin more readily than most because it isn't just incorrect, it inverts the author's meaning—ex visceribus verborum, "I could care less" means "I care about that." As H.W. Fowler observed, "to have to depend on [a reader’s] readiness to take the will for the deed is surely a humiliation that no decent craftsman should be willing to put up with.”
Jan's blog is here, by the way—check it out.
Let's look at NOW's response to the infamous Gawker article that I noted last night (if you have no idea what I'm talking about: well done, you win): "NOW repudiates Gawker's decision to run this piece."
Interesting. Who knew that NOW was involved in Gawker's decisionmaking process on the piece? They must have been, because one cannot repudiate something in which one has no stake. Etymologically, the word is a descendant of lat. repudio: I divorce my wife, I disinherit my children, or (more distantly) I refuse a commissioned work presented for my approval. And in current usage, although definitions include "to reject the validity of," the sense—carried over from its first-person latin ancestor—is always from the vantage point of one with something at stake. One repudiates one's former employee, employer, or industry; one repudiates charges against oneself; one might even repudiate an invoice or contract. It always carries the sense of placing distance between oneself and something with which one may be, has been, or could be associated, and Merriam-Webster's 1984 Dictionary of Synonyms accordingly suggests spurn, reject, refuse, decline, renounce, disclaim, disavow, disown, and the like as its synonyms.
They were looking, presumably, for a construction like "NOW disapproves of Gawker's decision." If something more forceful was needed: "NOW is appalled by…" would suffice.
Of course, all this could be a moot point. NOW's usage might be correct if it wishes to concede that it is naturally associated with the gutter media's attacks on conservative women, to a point where its perceived relationship with the sewer is so noxiously strong that it feels the need to publicly shower off.
"The reasons for the Democrats’ decline are, as we say in the business, overdetermined. That is, there are no lack of hypotheses to explain it…." Surely "there is no lack of hypotheses to explain it" or "hypotheses to explain it are not lacking"?
The concluding paragraph of this is filler, and badly-written filler at that.
Yager's point is that Terrie Rouse, fired this week as CEO of the Capitol Visitor Center, was fired fifteen years ago by another employer. Unprecedented! Fired, you say? Why, she was fired just this week, too! Is there some connection, do you suppose? If there is, it goes unexplained, leaving the reader wondering what possible relevance this could be; are we supposed to infer that she had a record of being fired for poor behavior? If so, that seems like quite a serious charge to leave dangling—remarked on but undeveloped—from the story.
And how about that employer? The California Afro-American Museum, Yager wants us to know, is "the country’s largest black museum in the nation." A splendid catch on the part of Mr. Yager and his editor; mutatis mutandis, see this.
You know that I'm a nitpicker where language is concerned, so I loved this:
Via the Rogue Classicist.
So reported ABC's Jonathan Karl, from Washington. Bunning could have said, in the third person, that the elevator in question was the only elevator of which he could avail himself. But I think it is more likely that he told Karl that "this is a Senators-only elevator."
What is lamer than the professional writer who cannot write?
If Bob Herbert - the New York Times' one trick pony in residence - wants to mock Sarah Palin's extemporaneous remarks at a debate, perhaps he should first learn that "proximity" is not a synonym of - nor an accepted substitute for the words he's dimly grasping for - "pertinence" or "relevance." Maybe it's a New York usage - like another word associated with New York that jumps to mind reading Herbert's orotund little missives: "schmuck."