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On another note Jun. 13th, 2014 @ 07:11 pm
I saw someone today register objection to the word "moron" as ableist language.

I... no. No no no.

Terms like "idiot", "moron", and "cretin" were, it's true, once used to categorise people who were perceived as being mentally deficient. But there is no way anyone would use them that way now, because their meanings have shifted.

However, if you decry as offensive any term which has ever historically had an application which would now be offensive, but which now have distinctly different meanings and connotations, then we are going to be very short, very soon, of available words with which we can criticise anyone for anything, and certainly lack for any way to express shades or nuances of meaning thereby.

I consider Tony Abbott to be a moron. He has sufficient intellectual competence to function in society, more or less, and even to succeed in politics, somehow, despite his knack for insulting pretty much everyone ever and his negative charisma, but he's a moron. (You gave a surfboard as your official gift to President Barack Obama, Tony? Hawaiian-born President Barack Obama? You thunderous cretin. Go back to England, please, you're an embarrassment to Australia.)

I don't know many ways to say that he's a moron without using words from that category. "Fool" would have worked a couple of centuries ago, but it has different connotations now. Saying he's stupid doesn't really convey "possessed of reasonable native intelligence, grossly misapplied to the point of simulating a badly-written AI that would fail the Turing test within three sentences, tops".

And that last one is too long to exclaim in exasperation every time you hear that he did something idiotic, because he's Tony Abbott. It happens multiple times daily.
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The Oxford comma: a comment Sep. 20th, 2011 @ 11:20 am
Language Log made a post about the Oxford (or serial) comma, which required comment-locking almost immediately, it seems. Because this is an issue of contention.

My own take: When I was a child, within the first couple of years of learning to read, I had a passionate, passionate hate of the appearance of a comma preceding the word "and". I don't remember why, precisely, but I remember ranting about it to my somewhat amused mother.

Then, for a period of some years, it left the realm of things I was actively caring about, and I didn't think consciously about it until I noticed that I had become a consistent user of the Oxford comma, and mildly irked by its absence where I felt it was needed.

I think it is for this reason that I have a tendency to think of the inability to appreciate the Oxford comma as being somewhat childish.
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And lo, the Essay Spam begins: Part one, Language May. 13th, 2009 @ 12:27 pm
I will, for the sake of the sanity of my readers, make the effort to edit this post, rather than adding new ones, however.

Usual practice: Notes are public, actual proper essay content is locked until after the essay is handed in. If people are interested, they can read the essay itself when it's complete (probably I'll just throw a PDF up). I'm pretty sure that I've granted access to everyone who's subscribed to me, now. Locked content tends to be either Very Personal stuff (although, since I've made a medium-grade effort to keep the hateful trolls who've made me reluctant to post in my own livejournal from knowing this one is here, middling-personal stuff will probably be reasonably open), fiction works in progress, and chunks of essays and the like; if you'd rather be dropped from access for easier filtering of my posts, let me know.

Anyway, essay. )

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