Sunday, December 27, 2009

farmdoc's blog post number 616

I’ve read Don Watson’s books Death Sentence and Weasel Words. Which maybe doesn’t tell you much, but it does tell you I’ve more than a passing interest in words. Which stands to reason, as I earn my living writing medical reports composed of nothing more than words. So I’m a keen observer of new words and phrases. And of old words and phrases with new meanings. Enter Caroline Baum (pictured). She’s a New York-based columnist for Bloomberg News Service. (Arguably she’s most famous for mentioning Sarah Palin’s tits on US national television; but that’s another story.) I write of Baum today because of this article in yesterday’s Age. It moves from Baum musing about end-of-year lists, to her list of six top trite, overused words and phrases’. They’re all in the category of old words and phrases with new meanings. And as a list aficionado, I reckon Baum’s list’s a fairly accurate one. But I do criticise her for her two adjacent adjectives ‘trite, overused’ – because my dictionary defines ‘trite’ as ‘repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuse’, and so only one of these adjectives is essential (and the other one is gratuitous). However I really appreciate the reference to one of my all-time favourite movie characters – ‘Chauncey Gardiner, the child-like sage in Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There’. Finally, please forgive me for this non ‘List Friday’ post about a list. It’s nearly the end of 2009. And I just couldn’t help myself.

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