Category Archives: language

A pack of literary Pecksniffs demands that we not use the phrase “quid pro quo” about the impeachment

A group of 33 writers has written a letter to the New York Times (it’s in the op-ed section of the paper version, too) calling for abandoning the phrase “quid pro quo” with respect to the charges against Trump in the impending impeachment hearings. You can see the letter by clicking below, and I’ve added […]

NYT: Pinker on the “Ukraine conversation”

In this short piece in yesterday’s New York Times, Steve Pinker takes a linguistics approach to the recent conversation between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, parsing their words and looking at how they’re used socially, all to figure out if there really was a “quid pro quo” going on. That, of course, is the crucial question, […]

Words and phrases I hate

The list of words that I find myself hating is growing by leaps and bounds as I move closer to extinction. I’ll just put four here, but I now have three times that many. Click on any headline below (all from PuffHo), to go to the article. “tone-deaf”  This is invariably directed by members of […]

Colorado State University walks back its language guide’s advice not to say “America” and “Americans”

A few days ago I reported on Colorado State University’s (CSU’s) “Inclusive Language Guide”, which apparently did not constitute official university policy but was still a rather draconian attempt to force language into a Woke Procrustean bed. As the guide’s introduction said: What this document is: This is a living resource compiled by the Inclusive […]

Language policing goes crazy (excuse the last word)

Things are getting a bit out of hand regarding the policing of language by the Woke. From SFGate we hear that The People’s Republic of Berkeley has passed a new ordinance prohibiting gendered language (click on screenshot): Here’s an example of verboten terms and their suggested replacements. I agree with nearly all of these changes […]

Language fascists: “Crazy” and “insane” should be tossed down the memory hole

Some changes in language are clearly advisable because there are alternative words that convey the same concept or object without being offensive or insulting. (“Retarded” may be one of these, though I don’t have strong feelings about that, and at any rate the word no longer has a use in characterizing mental illness, though it […]

The longest word in literature

Here it is: λοπαδο­τεμαχο­σελαχο­γαλεο­κρανιο­λειψανο­δριμυ­ποτριμματο­σιλφιο­καραβο­μελιτο­κατακεχυμενο­κιχλε­πικοσσυφο­φαττο­περιστερα­λεκτρυο­νοπτο­κεφαλλιο­κιγκλο­πελειο­λαγῳο­σιραιο­βαφητραγανοπτερύγων This is an ancient Greek word listed in Wikipedia (see also Wiktionary), which says “The Greek word has 172 letters and 78 syllables. The transliteration has 182 Latin characters. It is the longest word ever to appear in literature according to Guinness World Records (1990).” The transliteration into English is this: Lopadotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsanodrimhypotrimmato […]

More words I hate

And for further persiflage on a no-braining day, here is the latest list of words I abhor. You can see the influence of PuffHo here! “Gets real”, as in “Chrissie Teigen gets real about morning sickness.” What it apparently means is “tells the truth for once” or “says something unpleasant to hear”. “Clap back”. This odious […]

Words and phrases that need to get off my lawn

From time to time I put up words or phrases that grate on me, and then readers can vent their gripes as well. Note that yes, I know that language evolves. So does food, but you don’t have to like neologisms, just as you don’t have to like nouvelle cuisine (I don’t). Here are a […]

The odious double “is”

I just heard this on NPR—by someone who’s supposed to be eloquent: “The main point is, is that. . . . “ Yes, it’s the odious “double is”. I often hear it this way: “The thing is, is that. . . “, which is similar to the phrase above. Now you may say that language […]