Month: February 2008

William F. Buckley: ‘A Repristinated Vision’


Newspapers today are awash with obituaries and tributes to conservative icon William F. Buckley, who died yesterday at 82 while working on his daily column at home.

No one, regardless of political leanings, could ever accuse Buckley of abusing the English language.  In fact, he usually elevated it.

Buckley was quoted in a Wall Street Journal editorial today as recently having called for "a repristinated vision" for the conservative movement.

Frankly, I had never heard or read that word before, but its root is the noun pristine, so Buckley was issuing a call to restore the original vision of the conservative movement.

Let me add my nearly inconsequential tribute to the man who showed us all that there is life after FDR and liberal socialism.

Categories: Grammar Sucks


Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire: Welcome to the English Hall of Shame, Roger Clemens

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Pitcher Roger Clemens began testifying before Congress today, and though he was unaware of it in his ongoing denial of reality, his chances of making the Hall of Fame went up in smoke with his lies.

In the process, he also managed to throw every associate and loved one of his under the bus, including his wife, attorney and agent.  He reminded me of Captain Queeg.  Quick, someone pass Roger some little metal balls.

He also managed to make mangled-English history, concocting the word misremembered to characterize his chum Andy Pettitte.  Andy, it seems, "misremembered" (under oath, no less) a conversation he had with Roger about the latter’s admitting he used  steroids.

Okay, Roger, we’ll likewise misremember you for the Hall of Fame.

Welcome, however, to the Grammar Sucks Hame of Shame, Roger, for both mangling English and mangling the truth (might as well throw in "justice and the American way" while I’m at it).

Meaning of the Phrase, ‘The Devil to Pay’

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I belong to this e-mail service called "A Phrase a Week," and this week’s phrase is "the devil to pay."

Now, what I didn’t know is that the seams between planks on a wooden ship are called "the devil."  Therefore, "the devil to pay" could be interpreted to mean filling in these seams, or devils, with resin, etc.

However, the "Phrase a Week" service debunks this by pointing out the Faustian bargain of selling one’s soul to get ahead in life and quotes Thomas Brown’s 1707 Letters from the Dead to the Living

"Don’t you know damnation pays every man’s scores… we knew we should have the Devil to pay one time or other, and now you see like honest men we have pawn’d our Souls for the whole Reckoning."

The e-mail notes that this usage predates the "seams" variation, which makes good sense to me, as I’m constantly paying the devil to try to stay afloat in this world of forebearance.

Categories: Grammar Sucks