Friday, September 19, 2003

Because we're editors and because it's Talk Like a Pirate Day, check out Word Pirates, a site that laments the bastardization of language by marketers, politicians and the like. "Not only do they take them for commercial purposes, but they misuse them entirely. They're Word Pirates and we're going to take back what's rightfully ours."

It invites readers to submit their own words that have been stolen. Recent entries include:
Issue: Root of the word really means: something that is sent out or delivered (supplies, a magazine, a child). How it became a euphemism for a problem, a bug, a point of disagreement or a failure would be an interesting bit of research. Perhaps it derived from the phrase "bring the matter to an issue", in which case the word issue means "solution" or "decision", which makes a lot more sense than calling the problem itself an "issue."

Obscenity: Politicans and the media now use "obscenity" to refer to any sexually explicit content. There is a distinction, however, between "obscenity" (sexually explicit content that is not protected by the first amendment) and "pornography" (sexually explicit content that is protected by the first amendment). Further, even the use of the term "pornography" has been hijacked! "Child pornography" should more appropriately be termed "child obscenity", since pornography is entitled to first amendment protection, whereas obscenity is not.

Ask: "Ask" is a verb, meaning to call on for an answer, to beg, to question, to make a request, etc. Lately I hear it being used as a noun ("Let's make an ask for those funds.") by a lot of MBA types who apparently have trouble with really long words like "request."
Not all the entries are so good. (Some people just don't get it.) But they're fun to browse, and it's great to see others who share your pet peeves. See spending cuts, decimate and nonrefundable deposit.


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