President-Elect Obama has begun to assemble his nominees for Cabinet posts — something he had promised to do, in his first post-election press conference, "with all deliberate haste." If deliberate
means "marked by careful consideration or reflection," and haste
means "overly eager speed (and possible carelessness)," doesn't that make "deliberate haste" an oxymoron?
It's a special journalistic edition of Mailbag Friday! Today's question comes from Molly Eichel, assistant editor at Philadelphia City Paper:
I was hoping you could help me out with a linguistic conundrum. I work at the Philadelphia City Paper and I wrote a blog post about the inclusion of the word meh into the upcoming edition of the Collins English Dictionary. I think meh doesn't deserve a spot in a reference book; it's slang at best and sound effect at worst. A blogger at Philadelphia Weekly disagrees. I would really like to hear your thoughts on the matter, so it becomes a legitimate discussion rather than a spat between two bloggers. What do you think about meh's inclusion into a dictionary?
A panel of judges has selected the year's most popular Japanese words and phrases: everything from guerilla rainstorm
to whispering matron
. Check out the list at Pink Tentacle
Yesterday, our "Editorial Emergency" duo of Simon Glickman and Julia Rubiner launched a salvo
against a common usage of the word nonplussed
, a word they "wager more people get wrong than right." That opens an interesting can of worms: if a word or phrase used to have Meaning A, but more people now use it with Meaning B, is it time for the Meaning A folks to stand aside?
Over on Separated by a Common Language, Lynne Murphy has her own trans-Atlantic twist on the usual Word of the Year selections. Make your nominations for "Best American to British import" and "Best British to American import."
The leaves have fallen and there's a chill in the air, so that could mean only one thing: Word of the Year season is starting! This year, the New Oxford American Dictionary kicks things off with its annual choice: hypermiling
, meaning "attempting to maximize gas mileage by making fuel-conserving adjustments to one's car and one's driving techniques."
of King of Prussia, Pa. writes in with a Mailbag Friday question: "
There has been a lot of talk about a landslide victory during this recent presidential election. Not being sure if we actually experienced one or not, I was wondering if you could educate us on what the term actually means and its historical context in describing elections."