I didn’t see the original article, only the retraction and correction that appeared later, but a Jan. 7 story in the Orange County Register evidently said that 18th Century British politician William Wilberforce, a staunch opponent of slave trade, helped usher in a period of prurience.Â Oops, what they really meant was “prudishness,” as the retraction noted.
Whatever happened to copy editors, city editors and proofreaders?Â Probably most of them got their jobs eliminated.Â Back in the days when I toiled for a daily newspaper, at least two and often four people checked your story before it went to press.Â They were fairly prudish too.Â Prurience reigned over at Playboy and Hustler magazines.Â Now why didn’t I work for them?
So rode and spoke Paul Revere.Â
Now every media outlet in the U.S. is blaring a new refrain of thisÂ as David Beckham, British soccer phenom, and wife Posh Spice, British rock phenom, are relocating to theÂ statesÂ so BeckhamÂ can play soccer for the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Soon the definitive British accent of the two will hit the airwaves to promote soccer, shoes, clothes, Pepsi, Coke, you name it, but the prospect is so huge that no newspaper, radio, or TV outlet in the land did anything but trumpet it as the biggest news of the day, next to the “surge” of troops in Iraq.
I’m not sure what will come of this American English-wise, but it will be fun to find out.
Let’s just hope the guy can still play soccer so this phenomenon-in-the-making doesn’t appear stillborn.
Suddenly,Â it turns out that the liberals are complaining that using the word “surge” to describe the increase in troop levels in Iraq is a Rovian deceit, or trap, to imply a temporary increase and thus fend off war critics.
What’s going on?Â
First television, then the Web–newspapers are feeling the heat advertising-wise.
As a journalist who started his career in newspapers and is evidently ending it on the Web, I understand the progression, but it’ll be a sad day when just a few newspapers are left to help shape our culture.
A group meeting nearby where I live has decided that “to pluto” or in past tense “plutoed,” meaning to be devalued in character or substance, is the Word of the Year in 2006.Â Now that’s interesting.Â I would call this a case of elevating a Notword (Notverb?)Â to legitimacy.Â Hmmm….
Sky’s the limit for the American Dialect Society evidently.
Okay, okay, wars tend to change everything, but do they have to botch English usage as well?
I was hoping to leave behind the topic of the “size matters” Wall Street Journal, but an article in today’s Los Angeles Times brought the subject up again.Â What’s that about bad pennies?
I guess some would call “Pidgin” English “Pigeon” English, just as some would call Welsh “Rarebit” Welsh “Rabbit,” but that’s okay.
My experience with Pidgin English dates to the 1970s and several months I spent in Hawaii editing a publication on the fly.Â Here’s what happened to our happy little band of writers and editors by the time we headed home.Â We got used to saying, “Did you eat?” at lunchtime to try to hook up with someone for a bite to eat.Â By the time we left, the sentence had become a single Pidgin word, “Jeet?”
That may actually be beyond Pidgin English, which nonetheless contains many Notwords within its lexicon.Â Still, I never said Notwords couldn’t have charm.
The French resist every onslaught of a foreign word (sacre bleu! especially an American word or phrase) into their language through the French Academy, official arbiter of all French languageÂ usage.Â However, they usually don’t succeed; the words creep in anyway: “Je voudrais une hamburger.”
I’m with the French but on the right side of the Atlantic, so let’s stop abuse and misuse of English!
Oops, guess I blew it with my Wall Street Journal woe story.Â As it turns out, even as the size of the paper has shrunk, the content has been expanded in accordance with a couple of years of planning.Â Welcome to “Journal 3.0” (one step ahead of Web 2.0, I guess), editors and others announced in the paper as I finally got a chance to read it late last night.