Calumny: In a Sentence – WORDS IN A SENTENCE
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My Spidey editing sense, honed by years of service on the copy desk, is tingling with suspicion that this is an editor's error, not the writer's. Current tests can only detect what type of virus or bacteria people are infected with after they get sick.
But say you're an only-sensitive editor: You want that only to "snuggle up" in Kilpatrick's phrase to the word or phrase it modifies. Usually, that involves moving it rightward: But in this case, that's not far enough.
If the only isn't in its natural position "can only detect"where it alerts us to wait for the conclusion "after they get sick"then it has to come much later, like this: Current tests can detect what type of virus or bacteria people are infected with only after they get sick.
This doesn't really work either, though. It sounds as if it's making a positive statement about what tests can do, then it pulls a on the reader four-fifths of the way through the sentence. So let me implore, once more: Let's stop worrying about only. Usually, it's fine just where it is. As a linguist would say -- in this case, Geoff Pullum, on Language Log -- "The word only is frequently positioned so that it attaches to the beginning of a larger constituent than its focus and thus comes earlierand that is often not just permissible but better.
Or, as we sometimes remember to say on the copy desk: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Jennifer Corbett Dooren confirms that her original read "Current tests can only detect," and that the change came somewhere during the editing process. I like a tart, crisp apple myself, but who would name one the Razor, given the decades-old worries justified and not about treat-tampering evildoers? A bit of Googling suggests that the apple is actually the Razor Russet, "discovered by the late W.
Armstrong of the University of Kentucky as a limb mutation of Golden Delicious. Fruit is large, round, conical, and uniformly fawn-brown. Flavor is more intense than Golden, yet still sweet. Surely there's no connection, but in the absence of any other explanation, the name sounds a bit like a bad joke. I suppose mettle isn't utterly fantastic here; if being on one's mettle means "ready for any challenge," I can see how grasp the mettle might be understood as something like "gird your loins" or "cowboy up.
The phrase is based on the folk wisdom that firmly seizing hold of a stinging nettle or a nettlesome problem is like yanking off a Band-Aid; doing it decisively lessens the pain. Quinion quotes an 18th-century verse that states the maxim and even rhymes it with mettle: Tender-handed stroke a nettle, And it stings you, for your pains: Grasp it like a man of mettle, And it soft as silk remains.
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Nice rhyme, and total hogwash, as I can painfully testify. Once upon a time, weeding along a backyard fence, I innocently grasped a nettle and pulled hard. It stung like crazy. Quinion wonders if the plant lore was a prankster's invention. I always figured the metaphor was coined by someone who had never been near a nettle -- possibly the same guy who thought "like taking candy from a baby" was a good way of saying "easy. Cronkite, I've lost Middle America. At home, he was "gregarious," relishing "spinning a one-line joke out into an elaborate shaggy dog story," daughter Kathy Mr.
Cronkite's survivors include his son, Walter Mr. That would have been fun A Cupertino is an error that starts with the spellchecker, not a mere search-and-replace error like the one that made Tyson Gay into Tyson Homosexual.
Pope defrocks Chilean priest at center of abuse scandal
For more on those, see his Language Log post. That conjured up unsettling images of parents strip-searching their own year-olds, but it also reminded me to dig out a "loco parentis" variation I'd buried in a pile of notes. It appeared last month in a Globe op-ed by the president of Wesleyan University, who was explaining how the killing of a student had changed his feelings about "in loco parentis," the notion that the institution stands in the place of a parent.
But he called it "in locus parentis. And unfortunately, an editor used one of those examples in the callout quote, in nice big type nobody could miss. Now, I'm not going to profess any shock that a university president doesn't know his Latin declensions. But "in loco parentis" isn't some obscure legal term; it's in English dictionaries, along with "ad nauseam" and "in toto" and other familiar tags.
The American Heritage Dictionary has everything you might need to know: Nexis news has only 11 cites over plus years for "in locus parentis" three of them in the Globe, one in the Times. Google has a measly overall, along with hits for "in locum," "in local," "in loci," and the aforementioned "in locus parenti. Still, I'm curious; are these random mistakes, or do some people feel an aversion to using "loco" -- given its colloquial sense of "crazy" -- in a dignified Latin phrase?
Does "locus" sound better with "parentis," because they both end in s? Or is the word "locus" -- good English, after all, in its place -- just more familiar?
Speculation is welcome, though no doubt fruitless. Zimmer, executive producer of the language website Visual Thesaurus, reports the discovery today in his Word Routes column. Previously, writes Zimmer, the earliest known Ms. The abbreviation "Ms" is simple, it is easy to write, and the person concerned can translate it properly according to circumstances.
This commonsense wisdom has more or less prevailed, but only after decades of resistance. Actually, my Miss name was Holtz. But I am in fact no longer married to Goodman, or Dr. Goodman as The Times would put it. Now Miss Holtz isn't exactly right. Nor is Miss Goodman. And yes, it does now have a period. Fish or cut bait: Barry Hoberman wondered why I ignored the parallel phrase that ends "get off the pot"; the answer is that Globe style doesn't permit suggestively asterisked words, and rather than come up with a labored paraphrase, I figured I would let readers think of it for themselves.
Larry Stabile said his understanding of "fish or cut bait" has always been "that if we seize our opportunity we'll get to do the exciting, glamorous job, otherwise we'll be consigned to the menial. Judge Cushing must either fish or cut bait. Here's a sampling of the fossil evidence, from Google Books and Nexis, offering more than you probably want to know about the evolution of "cut bait": In these sentences, the "if" clause -- or protasis, if you want technical terms -- doesn't logically relate to the conclusion, or apodosis.
Aren't you going to the store even if I don't need anything? Isn't the interview guest the same whether or not I've just tuned in to "Fresh Air"? Is it still the same number? Then, the other day, Mark Liberman noticed an example of a very similar construction in the "Stone Soup" comic strip, and he posted about it at the Log, calling it a "relevance conditional.
Seuss put it, that's why I'm bothering telling you so. That may not be the last word on the subject -- check out the comments on Liberman's post -- but I'm easy; just having a name for the thing makes me feel better.
As I was fetching the strip from GoComics, I noticed that commenters at the "Stone Soup" pages were criticizing Holly as if she were a real teenager: Do these people not know that Holly is fictional and that her creator is already making fun of her bad attitude?
People, they're called the comics for a reason! Rudolf Mayer said the taped testimony of the daughter, Elisabeth -- and perhaps her presence in the court -- was the catalyst for Fritzl's surprise guilty plea: But we do hold Maureen Dowd and her editors to a higher standard than eBay vendors.
What's more, this is in a piece for the Sunday Magazine, where the editing process is presumably more deliberate than it is for the daily paper.
Far more outrageous errors have been published and corrected by the Times, as lovingly recounted in the book Kill Duck Before Serving. Here are two of my favorites both also noted by Slate 's Jack Shafer: She said he was "sui generis," not "sweet, generous. D'Amato's remarks about Judge Lance A. Ito misquoted the Senator at one point. In his conversation with the radio host Don Imus, he said: Judge Ito will be well-known. Perhaps someone on the Times editorial staff reads Language Log, since croqueted has been changed to crocheted in the online version of Dowd's essay.
An early master was Dwight Bolingerwho began keeping tabs on the latest words and phrases in with his regular column "The Living Language" in the journal Words.
In he moved the feature to American Speech the journal of the American Dialect Society under the title "Among the New Words," where it continues to this day, currently entrusted to Wayne Glowka. One able inheritor of Bolinger's mantle is Grant Barrett, project editor of the Historical Dictionary of American Slang and keeper of the entertaining and illuminating website Double-Tongued Word Wrester.
As a repository of "undocumented or under-documented words from the fringes of English," DTWW offers both completed entries and a queue of new citations that may eventually warrant full treatment in the entry section. One recent item in the queue is an unusually successful neologism, exploding out of nowhere into seeming omnipresence in a matter of a few weeks: Fitzmas is the name given by some liberal American bloggers to the atmosphere of excitement and anticipation primarily among Democrats and some others preceding the announcement of results of Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the Plame affair.
The word "Fitzmas" is a portmanteau of Fitzgerald's name and "Christmas". So who coined Fitzmas? Clearly what we need here is a tick-tockas they say in the news business. And thanks to blog trackers like Technorati and Google Blog Searchwe can provide just that. Keep in mind, however, that only the first two entries specify the time zone! Oct 6,1: I get up at around 8: I hope I wake up to good news.
This makes me feel like the night before Christmas: The federal prosecutor investigating who leaked the identity of a CIA operative is expected to signal within days whether he intends to bring indictments in the case, legal sources close to the investigation said on Wednesday. A few minutes after the Kos post, a contributor in the comments section named "Bob" takes a stab at what would be the first of many parodies of Clement C.
Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas," with other commenters following suit: Oct 6,4: KOS mentioned that this story made him feel like the night before Christmas. Oct 6, In an apparently unrelated development, "seemslikeadream" gets into the Christmas spirit inspired by Kos and his commenters?
The 12 Days of Christmas Indictments I wonder if I could get a little help on this, been thinking of it since last night On the first day of indictments my true love Fitz gave to me One Rovian Frog March Oct 6, In a follow-up post in the Democratic Underground forum thread, "SpiralHawk" offers the second known attestation of Fitzmas: So it looks like this is a case of independent invention.
Once the "Christmas" meme was planted by Kos, it spread along two different branches, both of which happened upon the Fitzmas portmanteau in short order. The Democratic Underground branch probably had more to do with the continued dissemination of the term after Oct. But the Fitzmas explosion didn't really hit until Oct. On her own blog, "georgia10" commented on Oct. We've come a long way from the days of Bolinger, when neologism-hunting was a laborious enterprise requiring eagle-eyed readers scouring newspapers and magazines for the latest lingo.
Of course, not all coinages will deliver up their provenance as easily as a blog-driven term like Fitzmas. And it goes without saying that this kind of blogospherese may have an exceedingly short shelf life. Now that the announcement of the Libby indictment has passed, I would expect that Fitzmas will die out quickly — unless, of course, an indictment of Karl Rove or another high-level official is in the offing, in which case be prepared for Fitzmas II: Goodness, those Wikipedists move fast. The Wikipedia entry has already been revised to include the 2Millionth Web Log citation.
One of the review's central issues is the meaning of meaning. Smith confuses, it seems to me, the question whether words convey a concept from one intelligent mind to another communication with the question whether words produce a concept in the person who reads or hears them meaning. Even a phonetician like me knows that this issue had an important role in 20th-century philosophy of language.
I present it to students in Linguistics as the distinction between speaker meaning and sentence meaning, framed by a quote from Peter Strawson's essay "Logic and Truth" reprinted in his collection Logico-Linguistic Papers: What is it for anything to have a meaning at all, in the way, or in the sensein which words or sentences or signals have meaning? What is it for a particular sentence to have the meaning or meanings it does have? What is it for a particular phrase, or a particular word, to have the meaning or meanings it does have?
I want rather to discuss a certain conflict, or apparent conflict, more or less dimly discernible in current approaches to these questions. For the sake of a label, we might call it the conflict between the theorists of communication-intention and the theorists of formal semantics. According to the former, it is impossible to give an adequate account of the concept of meaning without reference to the possession by speakers of audience-directed intentions of a certain complex kind.
The rules can be exploited for this purpose; but this is incidental to their essential character. It would be perfectly possible for someone to understand a language completely -- to have a perfect linguistic competence -- without having even the implicit thought of the function of communication [.
I can at least, though tentatively, name some living captains and benevolent shades: I'm not sure that Chomsky is accurately classified here, but it's certainly fun to think of him as being on the same virtual debating team as Scalia.
On a more serious note, I'm curious about a different cultural divide -- the apparent separation over the past century or so between philosophy of law and philosophy of language, despite the evident overlap of issues. I haven't read Smith's book, but there is no 20th-century philosophy of language in the "scholarship, from ancient to modern, bearing upon the philosophy of law" that Scalia cites Smith as reviewing -- the list skips from Socrates and Plato to "Holmes to Pound, Llewellyn to Dworkin, Posner to Bork and Scalia, honored as I am to be condemned in such eminent philosophical company ".
Scalia's specific arguments that meaning is something that people perceive that texts have, not something that people do for the purpose of affecting other peopleseem to me to raise some interesting non-linguistic issues.
For example, he proposes this parable: This is a clear rebuke to William Dembski's information-theoretic approach to Intelligent Design Theory. When it comes to the meaning of meaning, Scalia not only focuses on the interpreter rather than the creator of a signal, he gives absolute power to semiotic convention: If the ringing of an alarm bell has been established, in a particular building, as the conventional signal that the building must be evacuated, it will convey that meaning even if it is activated by a monkey.
I question the implication that people who hear a fire alarm interpret its meaning without paying any attention to theories of how it was activated: When I'm told that a particular alarm is due to a circuit fault or a mischievous monkey, though monkeys are thin on the ground in PhiladelphiaI don't conclude that the conventional meaning of the fire alarm signal has changed, but I do join everyone else in aborting the evacuation.
Back in January, Geoff Pullum told a real-world story that bears on this issue. If I'm one of the "persons" seeing the message, and the other one explains to me "Oh, that's just one of my cousin's tasteless jokes", I haven't learned anything new about the conventions of the English language, but the news alters my interpretation of the message profoundly.
Scalia also argues or rather asserts that group exegesis is less ambiguous than group authorship, explaining that multiple authors "may intend to attach various meanings to their composite handiwork", while we can "ordinarily tell without the slightest difficulty" what the meaning of that handiwork was to its multiple contemporary readers: What is needed for a symbol to convey meaning is not an intelligent author, but a conventional understanding on the part of the readers or hearers that certain signs or certain sounds represent certain concepts.
In the case of legal texts, we do not always know the authors, and when we do the authors are often numerous and may intend to attach various meanings to their composite handiwork. But we know when and where the words were promulgated, and thus we can ordinarily tell without the slightest difficulty what they meant to those who read or heard them. By citing three points where Scalia's arguments didn't convince me, I don't mean to invalidate the review as a whole, which struck me as an intelligent and interesting attempt to address important questions, and which persuaded me to order Smith's rather expensive book.
However, I wonder whether Scalia has considered and rejected the ideas of the past century of philosophy of language, or whether he's simply never encountered them.Word Of The Day: Calumny
It's obvious that the concerns of legislators, lawyers and judges overlap significantly with the subject matter of linguistics and language-related philosophy, and I've always been puzzled about why the real-world interactions between the disciplines and their practitioners seems to be so limited.
Reading Scalia's review left me more puzzled than before. If someone like Scalia were to want a reading list for philosophy of language since Plato, what should be on it?
Works by Strawson's heroes and shades would not be at the top of my list of suggestions, but I'm not the one to compose such a list in any case. Send me your nominations, or better blog about it and send me the link, and I'll summarize the results in a week or so. I gather from Scalia's review that Smith's perspective is at least as strongly represented among contemporary legal scholars as Scalia's is. I won't presume to characterize the philosophical state of play on these questions, but let me say that as a practical matter, linguists generally find it necessary to think about both kinds of meaning, in something like the relationship suggested by Wilson and Sperber's " Relevance Theory ".
This gives ontological houseroom to "linguistic meaning", but considers it one of the factors on the basis of which a normally more consequential "speaker's meaning" is inferred: According to the code model, a communicator encodes her intended message into a signal, which is decoded by the audience using an identical copy of the code.
According to the inferential model, a communicator provides evidence of her intention to convey a certain meaning, which is inferred by the audience on the basis of the evidence provided. An utterance is, of course, a linguistically coded piece of evidence, so that verbal comprehension involves an element of decoding. However, the linguistic meaning recovered by decoding is just one of the inputs to a non-demonstrative inference process which yields an interpretation of the speaker's meaning.
And let me add that it's often necessary to consider other aspects of the causal chain as well, such as transmission-channel noise and possible slips of the tongue, pen or ear.
Along with the intrinsic ambiguities of the signals involved, this means that "decoding" itself is a non-trivial process, usually seen as a form of Bayesian reasoning that crucially depends on assumptions about the a priori probability of alternative linguistic messages as well as on the available evidence about the signal being decoded. I suppose that legal texts are generally carefully composed and proofread, but errors must occasionally creep in -- and do obvious typos or malaprops then have the force of law?
One is the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. Another, in the news this weekend, is the Brigham and Women's Hospital. Both these coordinate names sound strikingly weird to me. It is worth trying to diagnose the syntactic reasons.
Cambridge Rindge and Latin is the only public high school in Cambridge, and I think its name sounds wrong because it coordinates a proper-name modifier associated with the name of the founder Frederick Hastings Rindge with a modifier that appears to designate a subject matter taught the Latin language.
So it's odd in the same way that it would be odd if a place called Bagley Farm merged with a place called The Dairy Farm and the result was called "the Bagley and Dairy Farm"; or if the two units at Harvard called the Kennedy School of Government and the Harvard Divinity School were to merge into something called "the Kennedy and Divinity School".
That one looks bad enough that mentally I place an asterisk in front of it. But of course the latter is itself a coordinative naming botch; the Cambridge High and Latin School was formed as a result of an earlier merger of Cambridge English High School and Cambridge Latin School.
We're lucky we didn't get "Cambridge Rindge, High, and Latin", a coordinative amalgamation of all three. Brigham and Women's Hospital was in the news over the last few days because Luk Van Parijs, the MIT associate professor who has just been fired for faking data in several immunology papers, did some of his research there.
The linguistic problem with "Brigham and Women's" seems even worse than "Rindge and Latin" or "Kennedy and Divinity" to me. It's a coordination of a proper name modifier as in the underlined part of London pride, Budapest Restaurant, or California girls with a genitive noun phrase determiner as in the underlined part of Ken's pride, Alice's Restaurant, or our girls.
In general, it seems to me that you should expect any attempt to do this kind of coordination to make something crunchingly ungrammatical. See what you think the square brackets indicate the coordinate constituents: I think they should have called in a linguist in when they were discussing these mergers. You don't want your institution to get stuck with an ungrammatical name. It's the same as when you are coining a new word that you hope will catch onor making an assertion about what phrases occur in current discourse.
Language Log Plaza is happy to provide lingustic consultants on such matters. Our fees are reasonable, and our linguistic taste is guaranteed: Fitzgerald's news conference yesterday. I share this positive evaluation, but I want to use it as background for a different point.
Speaking demands skill; explaining something complicated in public to a large audience is stressful; and when the large audience is poised to interpret every nuance to the nth degree, with enormous stakes riding on the results, it's amazing that anyone ever manages to bring it off without mistakes.
Well, the truth is that almost no one ever does, and yesterday's performance by Mr. Fitzgerald was no exception to this generalization. First, let's take a quick look at the reaction. Just a comment on the press conference.
Fitzgerald is more than impressive. His focus, grasp of the relevant facts, clear enunciation of what he is doing and dignified way in which he refused to speculate on anything else were, to my mind, deeply encouraging for anyone who cares about public life. He's an antidote to cynicism. The Jesuits who educated him should be very proud today.
It will be very hard to slime him; and the administration would be very foolish to even think about it.
Use calumny in a sentence | calumny sentence examples
Pejman Yousefzadeh at Redstate. I thought that Fitzgerald's television appearance was very impressive. He was restrained but principled, he knew the case inside and out and he was clearly at the top of his game in answering the reporters' questions in addition to showing a great deal of patience with stupid questions like the very last one asked. I agree, but let's look at some details of his performance at the press conference. Quotes are taken from the transcript on the NYT site; on a quick check, they seem to match the recording.
Fitzgerald, do you have evidence that the vice president of the United States, one of Mr. Libby's original sources for this information, encouraged him to leak it or encouraged him to lie about leaking? I'm not making allegations about anyone not charged in the indictment. Now, let me back up, because I know what that sounds like to people if they're sitting at home. We don't talk about people that are not charged with a crime in the indictment.
I would say that about anyone in this room who has nothing to do with the offenses. We make no allegation that the vice president committed any criminal act. We make no allegation that any other people who provided or discussed with Mr. Libby committed any criminal act. But as to any person you asked me a question about other than Mr. Libby, I'm not going to comment on anything.