Category: language

Notes On Extremistry

     Yes, that’s a coinage. It’s in the vein of chemistry, which is the study of how chemicals behave. There’s also palmistry, which is the study of palm trees. (What’s that? Palmistry has nothing to do with palm trees? Well, never mind then.) However, the comparison isn’t all that close. What I mean to tag …

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Critics Circle…And Pounce

     Despite my general disdain for the professional critic [“Those who criticize the most are the ones who create nothing.” – Helmut Schoeck] I must admit to a soft spot for acerbic reviewers with a creative flair for the English language. The following, taken from this review of a Guns ‘n’ Roses performance, tickled me …

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Frontiers In Doublespeak

     If you’ve never visited the Baseline Essays collection, I exhort you to spend a couple of minutes there perusing what’s on offer. Yes, it’s all old blather from one of the wordiest people ever to infest the Web. Still, some of those pieces are actually…ahem…interesting. My focus today is on the wildly popular Dictionary …

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Verbal Subterfuges 2023-05-15

     The slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. — George Orwell      With the above, Orwell hit near but not quite on the mark. He crept closer to the bull’s-eye with his conception of Newspeak, in which a character posited that “thoughtcrime” could be made impossible simply by …

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Thought I Was Kidding, Did You?

     When I wrote:      Families are the fundamental building blocks of a stable society. Extended families—clans—are the best conceivable environment for the rearing of children, the perpetuation of a commercial forte, and the germination of new families and their ventures…. And all healthy families, which cherish life and bind their members to one another …

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The Misuse Of Cost

     Typically, when you or I use the word cost, we mean the cost of something we must purchase, regardless of our desires. But cost, like need, has experienced a number of marginal and outrightly wrong uses in recent years.      Here’s one for you: opportunity cost. You’ll hear that usage from time to time, …

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A Deficit Of Rationality

A man said to the universe:      “Sir, I exist!” “However,” replied the universe,      “That fact has not created in me      A sense of obligation.” — Stephen Crane —      I’m in one of those moods this morning. I could slather you with the reasons, but as I’m also feeling charitable, I’ll spare …

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Distortions And Evasions

     My responsibilities to my Gentle Readers are more extensive than you might imagine. Yes, I’m here to provide analysis and commentary. Yes, I’m here to dissect the statements of others who don’t always express themselves clearly. But alongside those duties, I’m also here to pull the wool off your eyes – to tell you, …

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Trends In Babblage

     Yes! It’s another Fran Porretto coinage! But it strikes me (of course) as one that’s of particular relevance to contemporary discourse. It is intuitively obvious, isn’t it?      Steven Hayward at Power Line has produced a concise translation table for specifically left-wing babblage. I shan’t invade his copyright by reproducing it here. But Gentle …

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The Era Of The Illiterate

     Apologies, Gentle Reader. I have no better word than illiterate with which to describe this sort of locution:      “No I do not,” [New York City Mayor Eric] Adams said when asked at the “Bans Off Our Bodies” demonstration in New York City whether there should be any limitations on abortion.      “I think …

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The War Of The Words

     Yes, the title has been used by others. But the motif is critical to political combat in our time.      Words are weapons. Words are tools. Define or be defined! — Michael Emerling      I read in this morning’s news sweep that a Republican Congresswoman, Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), has introduced a “Women’s Rights” …

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Let’s Mince Some Words!

     I was just tooling around, surfing through my usual list of news and commentary sources, when I found this piece:      I first noticed that the Democrats had shanghaied control of our language when the phrase “Global Warming” began to disappear. It was replaced almost overnight with ‘Climate Change,’ mostly because we had had …

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Shibboleths And Scare Talk

     Political talk is mostly hot air, of course. Among other influences, politicians almost unanimously regard their own voices as the sweetest sound in the universe. They’ll fill whatever space is provided to them with as much blather as they can get away with – and it won’t necessarily mean anything in particular.      So …

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How It’s Done

     As liberals shy away from the word “woke,” the media has blamed Republicans’ negative use of the term for its downfall. What actually happened to “woke” may be more complicated, and cause problems for Democrats in coming elections. — Kelsey Koberg, Fox News      This isn’t the first time the Right has successfully wrested …

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“Normal”

     I just found this brilliant little piece at Ace’s place:      Suppose you have a kid your age who finds that he has the urge to fuck a toaster. In the past, he’d either keep it to himself and learn to live with it, or, if he mentioned it to someone else, they’d tell …

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Dictionary Of Government Doublespeak

Ever wondered why you simply can’t understand bureaucratese? It’s a problem that daunts many people, what with phraseology like “firmly tentative,” “bold caution,” and “interim final rules.” But never fear: your old friend Fran is on the job, and herewith presents the First Edition (collectors be alert!) of his fabulous… DICTIONARY OF GOVERNMENT DOUBLESPEAK Like …

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