Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Palin’s English"

Swiped (from here) especially for the concluding paragraph.

Palin’s English

Much giggling on the blogs about Sarah Palin’s mis-tweeting the word “refudiate” to mean “repudiate.” Palin’s defense: Shakespeare made up words too.

This latest Palin invention is unlikely to endure. But I notice that one Palin word invention really does seem to be catching on: her use of the word “verbiage” (Palin pronounces it “verb-ij” ) to mean “words.”

See for example Palin speaking on Fox’s “Hannity” program on September 17, 2008.

HANNITY: Senator Barack Obama yesterday was attacking Senator McCain for saying that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. Do you believe that the fundamentals of our economy are strong?

PALIN: Well, it was an unfair attack on the verbiage that Senator McCain chose to use.

“Verbiage” historically means not merely “words” but excessive, prolix, or obfuscatory words. To say that someone is emitting “verbiage” is always a criticism, even an insult. Or anyway, it used to be so.

In the months since, I have heard more and more politicians and even non-politicians use “verbiage” in the same way as Palin, sometimes even pronounced the same way as Palin pronounced it. It seems a real trend. Thanks to Palin, a word that used to mean the cynical use of language to evade, conceal and deceive now more and more just means “language.” It seems somehow an appropriate accomplishment.



No comments: