Come on, people, keep up
Item: I regret the necessity of the annual reminder that casual references to this coming Thursday should be St. Paddy”s Day, never St. Patty’s Day, because Patrick, though regrettably Celto-Roman (i.e., English), was nevertheless a man, not a woman, and the Irish diminutive of Patrick is Paddy. Give thought for a moment why paddy wagon is a pejorative.
Item: Today’s is the second Sunday magazine of The New York Times to lack the “On Language” column. The Facebook group Keep “On Language” in the New York Times is up to 836 members. If you have not joined, or expressed your displeasure to the magazine’s editor, Hugo Lindgren (email@example.com) or the paper’s ombudsman, Arthur Brisbane (firstname.lastname@example.org), or the editor on Twitter (@nytkeller), then you are not holding up your end.
And if you have already written, today would be an excellent time to remind them all that you are still here and still angry. Ecrasez l’infame.
Item: Interested in getting into copy editing? Stop snickering; I’m serious. Carol Fisher Saller has some advice.
Item: “I guess what’s happened is that what used to be a shockword has become a noise that’s supposed to intensify the emotion in what you’re saying,” writes Ursula K. Le Guin in an essay on our excessive fondness for employing the most versatile of the Anglo-Saxon verbs. Worth reading for the opening paragraph alone.
Item: Dilemma, from the Greek di, “twice,” lemma, “premise,” in the strictest sense is a choice between two equally appalling options: Scylla and Charybdis, the devil and the deep blue sea, Keeping Up with the Kardashians and The Apprentice. Casual usage has cheapened it into a mere synonym for problem or perplexity.
One of my correspondents has recently discovered something worse than casual usage: the belief that the word is spelled dilemna. It is not only a mistake; it is a mistake that appears to have been taught.
Item: I am not making this up, you know: Speaking yesterday in Manchester, New Hampshire, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, the light bulb populist, said: “You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.” She had said much the same thing in a speech the evening before.
Apparently history can join spelling as one of our neglected subjects.