use, misuse and cynical manipulation of language in common and specialist speech and writing

Channeling Inigo Montoya: “Enormity”

Sure, language moves on, yada yada, and usage shifts to what people most like the sound of, and “enormity” in particular somehow sounds more erudite than “enormousness”, so many people think it must be a more correct word for something that is huge or immense. Yeah, no.

Classic Nugget of Awesome: Harriet Jay on Stereotypes, Abused Populations and Survival Tactics

This 2009 quote from Harriet Jay’s remarkable blog Fugitivus came up in a ManBoobz thread. I wanted to highlight it firstly because it’s marvellous, and secondly to link back to the original post to make it easier for others to cite it.
Stereotypes exist pretty clearly to benefit the current social order, and when somebody enacts the stereotype perfectly, it becomes evidence for the stereotype, and when somebody acts in the complete opposite of the stereotype, they are exceptions and also fall into other very convenient stereotypes …

Methinks ’tis time to update a ‘net classic

The world needs a social justice version of John Baez’ classic simple method for rating potentially revolutionary contributions to physics AKA The Crackpot Index, to rate our never-ending “feedback” from troglodytes of assorted stripes who are convinced that not only are we Doin It Rong but that we deserve to be threatened into silence for daring to have an opinion in the first place.

BFTP: Who moved that apostrophe?

How did a day that grew from West Virginian Mothers’ Work Days from 1858 onwards (where mothers worked together to improve their community), and Mothers’ Friendship Days from 1865 (to promote harmony between former opponents in the Civil War), become what we celebrate now as Mother’s Day?

See the difference that apostrophe position makes?

The words people cling to

The important point here is that we shouldn’t accept superficially casual dismissals of ‘vocabulary wars,’ ‘fetishization,’ or ‘language policing.’ We should look closely at the words people cling to with the most tenacity, even as they try to sound blas? about it..