My Idea, Let Me Show You It
Via Balloon Juice we hear that Bill “Reverse-Cassandra” Kristol is hard at work trying to convince the conservative intelligentsia, such as it is, that Sarah Palin’s latest word-flub, refudiate, should become an accepted part of our language.
In true Kristol form, he omits important context, suggesting that Palin’s error occured in the “heat of the tweeting moment.” Which would be plausible, if not for the fact that she had used the exact same non-word the day before in a segment on Fox News.
People are prone to mispronouncing words they’ve seen in print but are not familiar with hearing in spoken language. But when you follow up a “mispronunciation” by writing out the non-word, it becomes quite clear that you’re not aware that it isn’t a word. People who read a lot and encounter words they don’t usually use in speech still know how the words are spelled. You’d expect that someone who reads “all of ’em” would have encountered the particular word she was flailing for; clearly she had not.
It seems obvious to me that what happened was that Our Sarah picked up a bright-n-shiny new word object, floated it as a trial balloon on O’Reilly’s show, and since no one pointed out to her that it wasn’t a word, she decided to use it again right away. After all, those multi-syllable words make you sound smart and all of that, you betcha.
After the twit tweeted her new word toy and the feedback ridicule started pouring in in response, she deleted the tweet – then came back a bit later with the Pee-Wee Herman “I meant to do that” defense, comparing herself to perhaps the most prolific English-word inventor…William Shakespeare.
Look, I’m not a dead-language proponent here – I make up words and constructions all the time myself. The difference is, I know when I’m doing it (see “smited”). Is it really too much to ask that the people who invent our new words be fluent and literate in the language they are “improving” with their modifications?
But back to Kristol: first off, Billy, no matter what you do, no matter what you say, Sarah is never, ever, ever, going to touch your penis. This is a fool’s errand you’re on here, and while I can’t think of anyone better to carry out a fool’s errand, let’s not get our hopes up too high, mmmkay? Secondly, if there is anyone who decidely does NOT need the help of a guy who’s always wrong, it would be Sarah Palin. She can manage “wrong” all by herself.
So let’s put your efforts to something a bit more useful – something that will both satisfy your Palin-stroking … urges, while at the same time, help give a boost to Sarah’s newest constituency, the “Mama Grizzlies.” I think they need a logo, some public brand to appeal to all those Mama Grizzly-wannabees out there. Something not too ferocious – the name covers that angle – but something cuddly, non-threatening, appealing, and approachable. Something … like this:
Please, please, run with it.