Cranky word fascist moment of the day
9 March 2012
Professors get used to feeling exasperation at student malapropisms — like when a student writes, “for all intensive purposes” instead of intents and purposes. One of my friends was baffled by a student paper on the US Civil War that referred over and over to the South succeeding, when he realized the student didn’t understand the word secede. (Now that word switch changes the story of the Civil War considerably.)
We, after all, are word fascists.
But today one of my academic listservs has posted a message from a colleague asking about data on blue-color jobs. Let me be clear: this is from a fellow professor. Someone who studies the topic of blue-collar jobs. A professor who is a native English speaker.
I’m incredibly, irrationally pissed off about this. Now my English-speaking colleagues are going to send out mass-emailed sloppy messages in which they misuse words? Do I have the energy to deal with this??
Okay, but let me also note that Sesquipedaedalus has a list of the 1,027 prettiest words in English. The list is growing. Perhaps running the word scialytic over my tongue for an hour will dissipate the annoyance.