Category Archives: language

Merriam-Webster Dictionary changes language about sexuality during Amy Coney Barrett hearings

It’s not enough these days for dictionaries to record words and phrases and document as their meaning changes over time. Now, in line with Woke practice, dictionaries are actually running ahead of the pack, changing meanings and connotations to guide usage. Or so it seems, at least to me, with the latest term: “sexual preference”, […]

The politics of the AP Stylebook: the word “riots” is discouraged because the word is too emotional

Is there any doubt that the AP Stylebook is deliberately changing language not to follow usage, but to mold usage, and in a way that favors certain political and ideological positions? I realized that when, giving cockamamie and totally unconvincing reasons, they recommended the usage of “Black”, with a capital “B” and “white”, with a small […]

Real estate goes woke with elimination of term “master bedroom”

This is one of those attempts to purge language that I’m ambivalent about. As argued in the New York Times article below and the Chicago Sun-Times article below that, the real-estate term “master bedroom,” which refers to the largest bedroom in a house or apartment—one usually occupied by the parents in the family or the […]

Andrew Sullivan on Newspeak

I’d urge everyone who hasn’t read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, or hasn’t read it for a long time, to reread it now.  A major part of the book—Winston Smith’s job—is to erase real history and replace it with the latest, ideologically-approved version of history. Sound familiar? And the ruling party of Big Brother also created a […]

Merriam Webster redefines “trans woman”

Language changes, of course, but it usually changes when the general populace re-construes a term, not when a dictionary changes a word’s meaning for ideological reasons. The latter seems to be what has happened with the Merriam-Webster definition of “trans woman”, which has followed the argot not of the general populace, but of a certain […]

Words and phrases I hate

Like many Brits, I too am dispirited today, and in fact so dispirited that I can’t brain. When in such a state, I find that my best tactic is to vent, and what better way to vent than rail against language pollution? Today we have several words or phrases I hate, and of course you’re […]

Letter to Nature denounces the term “quantum supremacy” as racist

Yesterday, in a comment on this site, reader Invisible Airwaves called attention to a letter to the editor in Nature about an innocuous phrase used in computer lingo. It’s unbelievable what things will offend people these days—even innocuous phrases—and it’s starting to get me down as I see no corrective in the future. So, a […]

Live and learn: what’s the difference between “chicken feet” and “chicken paws”?

Don’t expect any deep thinking (if I’m even capable of that!) for a few days; I’m tired and am experiencing PASS, Post-Antarctic Stress Syndrome. A post like this is all I’m capable of today. When I was grocery shopping yesterday, I was stopped in my tracks in the meat department by these packages of CHICKEN […]

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, […]