Monday, July 19, 2010

Taking a break from whining to do a little chiding.

Sarah Palin tried her hand at word coinage on Twitter this weekend, asking "peaceful Muslims" to 'refudiate' the mosque that is being planned to be built two blocks away from the ruins of the World Trade Center. She then compared herself and George W. Bush (coiner of 'misunderestimate') to Shakespeare, who coined many words in English, such as turning the noun assassin into the verb assassinate.

Ah, where to begin?

First: Two blocks from the WTC is too close? What, no mosques on the entire island? Give me a break.

Second: I know it's too much to expect Americans to think about other cultures and try to compare them to our own, but this would be similar to asking "peaceful Christians" never to build a church within walking distance of where the KKK burned a cross.

Third: Shakespeare you ain't, toots. There is a fine distinction between refute (to prove incorrect) and repudiate (to refuse to accept), and just because your clumsy thumbs and the clumsy brain to which they are attached think you did something clever doesn't make it so. Take the word of people who do not have your level of stupidity that if the word is used in the future, it will be used to remind people that you are a lunkhead.

For example, Dizzy Dean decided the past tense of slide should be "slud". No one uses the word in that way except as a reminder that Dean and English grammar were not the best of friends.

But I am not against coinages when they help the language. A golfing partner of mine, it could have been my dad or one of his buddies, I'm not sure, came up with the word scalvage, a cross between scavenge and salvage. In golf, if you hit three sub-standard shots and end up on the green of a par 4 hole some 40 feet from the pin, you are in trouble. If you then sink the 40 foot putt, which is not an easy job for all you non-golfers out there, you have salvaged par.

This weekend at the British Open, Colin Montgomerie sunk a difficult 25 foot putt to make a double bogey. In the vernacular of my old foursome, Monty scalvaged double bogey, saving something he would usually rather throw away.

It's been twenty years since I first heard the word "scalvage" and I still think it's the best neologism (new word coining) to which I have ever been witness.


Fran said...

She is a moron. It is so sad. I worried so much about dumbing down things in the 90's. Here we are baby - Refudiation central! And racey too! Oops, did I mean racist?

47th Problem of Euclid said...

Refudiate? Refute is a verb. Adding "-iate" turns a word into a verb. Therefore she is verbiating a verb. Why bother?

Margaret Benbow said...

Didn't Palin keep transferring from something like six or seven colleges as an undergraduate? She must have been flunking out.