The normalcy of refudiate

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Ian Best writes:

Since it was first used by Palin, and then commented upon by the media, I've heard the word [refudiate] used a couple of times in everyday speech. Both times it was used in a playful, ironic way, as if the person knew it was a Palin-invented, non-legitimate word. I.e. "You need to refudiate that comment!"

My question: At what point does a word become a legitimate word, one worth keeping, if it is used often enough in everyday speech, even ironically?

I actually think "refudiate" is a useful invention, whether intended or not by Palin. "Refute" and "repudiate" have distinct meanings, and it is certainly possible to do both simultaneously. Politics and origins aside, what do you think about the word itself, and about the chance that it will catch on?

There are certainly plenty of portmanteau words that have come into general use, from brunch and spork to bridezilla and wikipedia.  There are fewer that were promoted by a public figure's creative mistake, but one precedent is George W. Bush's misunderestimate.

Misunderestimate is generally taken to be a blend of misunderstand and underestimate; like Sarah Palin's refudiate, it was sporadically invented by others over the years before President Bush used it; and like refudiate, it has caught on both as a joke and because people sometimes find it genuinely useful. In fact, of course, Sarah Palin cited it in defense of her own coinage.

Another relevant example may be then-Senator Warren G. Harding's use of normalcy in a 1920 campaign speech. This is not a portmanteau or blend — it's just a way of forming the noun meaning "state of being normal" — and it had been used from time to time since the mid 19th century, but Harding's usage was the subject of considerable discussion, e.g. by the NYT on 7/22/1920:

If Senator Harding likes the word "normalcy" he has a perfect right to use it. Mathematicians used it before him long ago, and nobody can question successfully either the propriety or the comprehensibility of the term. The word, however, is unfamiliar to most people, and therefore its employment in a political campaign is of dubious wisdom, as it will distract attention from what the Senator says to the way he says it.

To do that is usually a mistake for either orator or writer. Still it isn't always a mistake — sometimes meaning can be fixed in the minds of hearers or readers by a noticeable peculiarity of locution or vocabulary.

Why either a mathematician or a candidate for the Presidency should consider "normalcy" better than the familiar "normality" is a puzzle beyond the solution of an inquirer who is neither, but such a preference does not need explaining. There are even people who like "abolishment" better than "abolition".

An audio recording and transcript of the speech in question is available here. The "normalcy" passage, featuring Harding's peculiarly mechanical delivery:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

America's present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality but sustainment in triumphant nationality.

For me, the most striking lexical feature of this passage is the sub-slogan "not experiment, but equipoise": imagine it on a bumper sticker.  Historians may rank Harding as one of the worst presidents in American history, but this was clearly a man who knew how to use a thesaurus.

[Or rather, as William Safire points out in the entry on normalcy in his Political Dictionary, Harding knew how to hire a man who knew how to use a thesaurus:

... his "literary clerk," Judson Welliver, the first fulltime White House speechwriter ...

Safire passes along this analysis of why Welliver might have chosen normalcy, and why it caught on:

James McCawley, the great linguistics professor at the U. of Chicago, wrote the author in 1992: "You express puzzlement that normalcy caught on and some other neologisms didn't. One reason that the use of normalcy in Harding's address was so catchy is that with that form of the word the alliteration is between two syllables that bear the primary stress (no'strums, no'rmalcy) whereas if Harding had said norma'lity instead, the alliteration would have been on a syllable of that word that had only secondary stress."

Safire -- who ought to know -- expresses the opinion that "It is unlikely that ... Welliver ... thought that through in creating the alliterative passage", but this seems to elevate rational choice to a level that Jim McCawley would have never have attributed to a poet or a speechwriter. Or for that matter to any other human deciding what to say.]



48 Comments

  1. Ben Hemmens said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 7:06 am

    Get in here and refudiate this santorum already!

  2. Ben Hemmens said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 7:10 am

    does anyone say "complificate" in english?

    'cause in German, "komplifizieren" or adj. "komplifiziert" is a joke. the normal word would be, analogously to the English, komplizieren.

  3. language hat said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 8:56 am

    I don't understand what normalcy is doing here; it's a perfectly good word and always has been, if a bit obscure, and Harding was using it the same way he used equipoise and submergence. It was "the subject of considerable discussion" because the liberal elite (to use a convenient term, with no political animus implied) liked picking on Harding, just as they like picking on similar figures today (cf. the fuss over Rumsfeld's unexceptionable "known unknowns" statement, or Bush's pronunciation of nuclear). It is, as far as I can tell, completely irrelevant to a discussion of new portmanteaus catching on. But perhaps you just wanted to share the audio file? I confess I was glad to have a chance to hear it.

    [(myl) It seems to have been rare enough, before Harding used it, that some people accused him of making it up, and many people (as in the NYT passage) discussed the wisdom of the choice. After all the fuss died down, it became much more common, indeed a "normal word" in truth (which I think it was not before). Here's the evidence from Mark Davies' corpus:

    Of course, normality has a somewhat similar trajectory of usage, but at least there are a few examples in the two decades before Harding's speech:

    Also, the audio file is cool. Did you notice how he pronounced war?]

  4. Tadeusz said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 9:07 am

    The question, however, was:
    "At what point does a word become a legitimate word, one worth keeping, if it is used often enough in everyday speech, even ironically?"
    The simplest answer is: when people start using it in normal speech, i.e. spontaneously. However, because records of use, such as dictionaries, usually are rather slow to pick up a new use of a word (they are better with new forms, such as those discussed in this thread), people think the word is not "legitimate". In some countries, such as France, Slavic countries, the normative tendencies are so strong that if a word is not recorded in a "serious" dictionary it is considered to be an error.

  5. Thomas Westgard said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 9:10 am

    For the foreseeable future, it's too attached to a particular political perspective to mean something other than an implied statement that Palin and her ilk are stupid.

  6. Ralph Hickok said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 9:18 am

    Did William Safire write that speech?

  7. chris said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 9:29 am

    "Refute" and "repudiate" have distinct meanings, and it is certainly possible to do both simultaneously.

    True, in theory, but actual refutation is hard work. The joke is that Palin doesn't care about the hard work of rational argument and would expect repudiation (a mere statement of sentiment) to be just as good as refutation — that she doesn't grasp the difference between the two concepts because she's not part of the reality-based community, so any statement of allegiance to one side of an argument is just as good as a reasoned argument.

    This is inconsistent with it being a *deliberate* portmanteau like "spork" or "chortle".

  8. bork said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 9:30 am

    Refudiate is a perfectly cromulent word.

  9. linda seebach said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 9:33 am

    I ran across "preventitative" a couple of days ago, in a serious article by a university professor, and I thought "that's a new one," but it isn't, quite; about 1,500 hits on Google (some of them complaining about it). But a quick look through the top pages returned suggest that it has some currency in veterinary medicine, and there's a lesser cluster in New Agey sources, often in relation to medicine. Perhaps the words that make it into general speech first colonize a particular area, and become common enough there that people come to think they are perfectly ordinary words and then export them to other areas.

    [(myl) Hi Linda! There's actually a triple here: preventive (with 2,310,000 hits in Google Scholar), preventative (with 456,000 hits in Google Scholar), and preventitative (with 12 hits in Google Scholar). The first two are in dictionaries, but I haven't found a dictionary that lists the third one.]

  10. Kylopod said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 9:36 am

    The use of refudiate–and misunderstimate-is more like a fad, and you'd be hard pressed to find its use outside political junkie circles. Even when people find it useful, they have Palin in mind.

    "Normalcy" is different, not only because it was a legitimate, if obscure, word before Harding popularized it, but also because it's not a portmanteau. I think portmanteaus live a double life in our culture: while they're the source of many accepted coinages, they're also associated closely with illiteracy, as in Archie Bunker's "groinicology."

    I'd like to know more on coinages that come from apparent malapropisms, how often they enter the language as general words, and whether they ever come to be used in earnest, as opposed to mockingly or ironically.

    It seems that mockery is a big impediment to mainstreaming a word, particularly if the word is a portmanteau, even one that didn't start as an error. Think about the word "Ebonics." You occasionally hear it used in earnest, but most of the time it's used by people who think negatively of Black English, and it is not the term of choice for linguists who are sympathetic to Black English. It's been tainted by the controversy in which it was popularized.

  11. Bill Benzon said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 9:47 am

    Thinking of the previous post on 'slash,' is it the case, then, that 'refudiate' means refute slash repudiate? And 'miunderestimate' means misunderstand slash underestimate?

  12. rpsms said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 10:22 am

    I always took the mis- in misunderestimate to mean "mistaken." For times when you should have expecteed a completely different underestimation outcome.

  13. Ben Zimmer said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 10:36 am

    I discussed refudiate, misunderestimate, and normalcy on The Leonard Lopate Show and in two Word Routes columns ("'Refudiate' and Other Accidental Coinages" and "In Defense of Harding the Bloviator").

  14. Spell Me Jeff said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 10:40 am

    As others have said, it is not clear to me, and apparently not clear to Palin, what the coinage is supposed to mean. The idea of refutation implies repudiation, does it not? (You do not argue against the validity of something while simultaneously accepting it.) So the utility of a combination word seems nil. Refute IS the combination word.

    [(myl) I could make a contrary argument, as follows: To refute an argument is (or at least may be) simply to demonstrate that it's false, whereas repudiate means "To cast off, disown (a person or thing previously claimed as one's own or associated with oneself)". So it's easy to refute an argument without repudiating it -- this will always be the case if the argument was not "previously claimed as one's own or associated with oneself"; and one might easily refute an argument for a proposition, while still maintaining (with or without other evidence) that the proposition is (or ought to be) true.]

    Not that English speakers have ever minded multiple words with identical or similar meanings. Eventually a subtle difference usually emerges.

    A lot of the controversy stems from a tweet Palin made, and then corrected. In one correction, she substituted "reject." In another, "refute." Which did she intend? Does she even know what refute really means? (See Chris's post above.)

    Of course, limiting the discussion to Palin's usage seems folly. Others have used it and will use it again. But what will they really mean by it? I suppose we will have to guess from context.

    Though that seems true of the word refute as well. I teach argumentation professionally, and my students (thousands by now) almost universally do not know what the word means until I explain it in some depth.

  15. Mary Bull said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

    One more idea about "normalcy" in the Harding quote:

    I think the speech writer simply had a good feel for the rhythms of spoken language. The poetry is in the alliteration afforded by the stress on the first syllable, but it's also in the "beat" that the first-syllable stress provides and that "normality" would interfere with. And yes, that little bit of poetry in the rhetoric probably happened unconsciously, I think.

    I agree that "refudiate" is only used mockingly and only by people who are following politics — at least, among those I associate with face-to-face here in Nashville. And I don't find it a "poetic" word at all, in the way that "normalcy" is. How trippingly "normalcy" rolls off the tongue! :)

  16. Mark P said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

    Am I misremembering or was Eisenhower criticized for using "expertise"? I was pretty young during his presidency, so if I'm remembering anything it must have been something I read about it later.

  17. Brett said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

    @linda seebacb: Adding extra syllables to "preventive" is a pet peeve of my father's. (I imagine he came by this peeve during his many years of work on the practice and improvement of preventive medicine.) After hearing him complain about it numerous times, I started noticing the extra syllables a lot. My impression is that word is more likely to have additional syllables in speech than in writing. I too have seen "preventitative" is supposedly serious prose, but probably only once, even though I've heard it aloud probably dozens of times. And while I have never come across it in written form, I have heard the fourth iteration, "preventitatative," twice. (Both times, the extra vowels were two schwas surrounding a long vowel.)

  18. marie-lucie said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

    I think there must be more than just a confusion between "refute" and "repudiate" in Palin's neologism. The relatively learned term "refute" sounds pretty close to the much more common "refuse" (and many people confuse them), and "repudiate" is closer in meaning to "refuse" than "refute". On the other hand, "repudiate" begins like "repel" and "repellent" which are also more common than "repudiate". On the other hand, "repudiate" is similar to "repute" and "reputation" but has a completely different meaning, so the initial "rep-" here could be misleading. "Refudiate" therefore avoids the confusion with "reputation" by aligning itself phonologically with "refuse".

  19. Josh said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

    I agree with Mary. For at least the first half of his list, he uses strong alliteration and emphasis on the fist syllable. Normality shifts the emphasis to the second syllable. The poetic structure starts to fall apart after the surgery/serenity pair, but up until that point, I quite liked it.

  20. Chris said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

    I think it's interesting to note that Harding uses "surgery" to mean, I suppose, "radical and dangerous intervention" (in something). Contrast that with the modern sense of "surgical" to mean "tidy and with limited or no side effects." Our view of surgery and its dangers has changed a lot since 1920.

  21. chris said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

    The relatively learned term "refute" sounds pretty close to the much more common "refuse" (and many people confuse them), and "repudiate" is closer in meaning to "refuse" than "refute".

    Hmm — this raises the possibility that "refudiate" originally had nothing to do with "refute" at all, but was a portmanteau or accidental blend of "refuse" and "repudiate" (which are much more similar in meaning).

    Palin shows no evidence of ever having taken a course on formal argument, so she may not be all that familiar with "refute" at all, let alone its technical meaning, but I bet she knows what "refuse" means.

  22. Coby Lubliner said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

    Whether or not "normalcy" was coined or popularized by Harding, it seems to have become so prevalent that MWCD11 lists only it and not "normality." But to me it has always seemed strange. Latinate nouns ending in -cy normally derive from nouns or adjectives with a [t] sound at the end (from the Latin ending -tia): president → presidency, constant → constancy, accurate → accuracy and so on. How, then, did "normalcy" come about? (Or, for that matter, "captaincy" and "chaplaincy"?)

  23. groki said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 3:55 pm

    re misunderestimate:

    "they misunderestimate me" does match the portmanteau of "they misunderstand my meaning and underestimate my power," and that's probably the source of the neologism.

    but there's also a less portmanteauish interpretation, with the mis- prefix giving a meta-ish, intensifier-by-multiple-negatives thing: "they mistakenly underestimate me" or "they underestimate me in the wrong way" or "yeah, they underestimate me, but they can't even get that right!"

  24. marie-lucie said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 4:14 pm

    chris, of course Palin knows what "refuse" means, but she must be unclear about both "refute" and "repudiate", otherwise she would probably would have used "repudiate", but she didn't, so I assume that she was influenced by the meaning of "refuse" as well as its phonetic and semantic similarity with the less common "refute" (semantically, those verbs all denote a type of negativity).

  25. George said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 4:15 pm

    I liked Harding's 'normalcy' passage with the stress alliteration. However, in listening to it, I felt that there were way too many oppositional pairs. I didn't get this sense in the reading.

    @ myl: I didn't hear 'war' in this audio file.

  26. Nathan Myers said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

    I don't understand why "misunderestimate" is always taken as a coinage, and not just a trivial stumble, as in "don't mis- (er) underestimate me". If he had said "don't mis- (er) don't underestimate me", which means exactly the same thing, few would even have transcribed the slip.

  27. vcInCA said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

    refudiate is being used in other blogs, e.g. http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/006301.html#comment-277925 in an ironic sense

  28. army1987 said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

    Normalcy more common than normality in the 1990s and 2000s? That can't be right…

  29. Janice Byer said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 8:06 pm

    I agree with Nathan Myers. The redundant prefix of "misunderestimate" like that of "irregardless" seems unable to contribute meaning. "Refudiate" likewise has letters that seem designed to gild the lily or, as Shakespeare said with more meaning, ahem, "glid the refined gold and paint the lily".

  30. KCinDC said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 8:14 pm

    But refute doesn't fit in Palin's original use—at least not with its usual meaning. She wasn't talking about an argument.

  31. ShadowFox said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 8:34 pm

    Whatever you may think of the word, "refudiate" is not going to die for a while:

    http://bit.ly/9xyG4g

  32. Steve Morrison said,

    August 27, 2010 @ 9:15 pm

    A high school history teacher of mine kept using the word "normalicy".

  33. maidhc said,

    August 28, 2010 @ 4:06 am

    "Normalcy" seems to follow basic structural concepts. Here is this word "normal". How to construct a word that means the state of being normal? "Normalness"? "Normality"? "Normalcy"? "Normalicity"? Any would be plausible, in the sense that an analogous example could be found. Back in the 16th century you could take your pick, but in more recent times one choice has been selected as the standard. But if a President uses another version, it might pick up popularity.

    Another example is "heighth" (or "highth"?). Why not? We have "length" and "width". Why is "heighth" considered a marker of the illiterate boob?

    "Refudiate" is a different matter, since it's not the result of an existing formation method. I don't see it as a portmanteau word like "bridezilla". It doesn't express any concept that we don't already have a way to express.

    There are certain terms that get some ironic usage, like "the Google" or "misunderestimate", but as the original incident fades into obscurity, the usage will die.

    "Normalcy" will stay, and "bridezilla" as long as there is a need for the word and 1950s Japanese horror movies remain popular.

  34. Bernard McGinley said,

    August 28, 2010 @ 4:59 am

    Bad news from London is that some BBC journalists are starting to use 'refute' in the sense of 'rebut' (and being allowed to). Similarly, a politician can say 'I refute that' and get away with it, because there is no holding to account. This is a major loss to political discourse.

    [(myl) This is one aspect of several changes involvng refute that have been going on for some time. See "Google sociolinguistics", 1/14/2004; "'Refute' for 'deny': We're on the case", 1/14/2004; "Deny, disprove, refute", 1/22/2004.

    For us linguists, of course, the news from London is good rather than bad -- grist for the mill, even for those who don't positively revel in change. As for the overall level of political discourse in British journalism, has it ever been high enough that a decline could actually be registered? (That's a genuine rather than a rhetorical question -- is there really less "holding to account" now than there was in the past? And if there is such a change, can any of it really be attributed to the shift in meaning of refute?) ]

  35. Bernard McGinley said,

    August 28, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

    Yes, there is really less holding to account if some new Ron Ziegler can say 'I refute that' to mean 'I deny it'. That seems to be caused by the incipient shift in the generally understood meaning of 'refute'.

    From Thomas Paine to Evelyn Waugh and beyond, British journalism has always been a shaggy beast of course, and Fox News is owned by an American, but where is the transitional gain – in 'refute' being reduced to 'disprove' – for a highly useful concept? The prospect of the long decay of 'refute' is a weasellers' gift. Even if the process is unstoppable, a rearguard action is called for (if only 'What sense of 'refute' do you mean?).

    A Member of Parliament is still not allowed to tell lies (a.k.a. 'porkies') in the House of Commons. John Profumo in 1963 lost his career because of that principle. Grist to the linguistic mill is not necessarily grist to the mill of public life.

    Certainly prescriptivism can be boring, but lying can be more boring, and corrupt with it.

    (If I refute your refutation, who wins?)

  36. Matt McIrvin said,

    August 28, 2010 @ 6:14 pm

    Is it my imagination, or has "the internets" rapidly evolved from Bushism joke to ironically used term to unironically, widely used term for the Internet?

    (It's a defensible phrase, for that matter. Early on, some texts used the uncapitalized generic term "internet" to mean any TCP/IP network, and "Internet" to mean the global one. But most internets are connected to the Internet. So, disconnected networks aside, "the Internet" would pretty much be the same thing as "the internets".)

  37. John Cowan said,

    August 28, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

    Bernard McGinley: The earliest non-ironic use of refute 'deny' in the OED3 is 1895, though as is pointed out some of the examples are hard to distinguish from refute 'rebut, prove false'.

    Matt McIrvin: there are vast numbers of internets that aren't connected to the Internet, though not as many as there used to be before firewalls became popular and employees started insisting on surfing during work.

  38. groki said,

    August 28, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

    maidhc There are certain terms that get some ironic usage, like "the Google" or "misunderestimate", but as the original incident fades into obscurity, the usage will die.

    the irony, though, may help the terms to survive. for example, on the blogs of several of the web-hipsters I read, "the Toobz" (originating from here) gets some pretty heavy rotation. the "can you believe he thought that?!" mocking tone seems to be part of the appeal of the term.

  39. Kylopod said,

    August 28, 2010 @ 8:59 pm

    I was under the impression that people say "the Internets" as a kind of mock-illiterate expression, sort of like "Who woulda thunk it?"–except the image it's meant to conjure isn't lack of education but old age.

  40. Acilius said,

    August 28, 2010 @ 9:34 pm

    It's amazing that a speaker capable of delivering the passage excerpted above could have been elected US president in so oratory-conscious an era as the early decades of the twentieth century, but I for one would like to put in a good word for Warren G Harding. He never started a war, and in fact withdrew American troops from the Russian Civil War. He put a stop to the First Red Scare and released a lot of political prisoners. He denounced racial segregation at a public meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, which took quite a bit of courage in the early 20s. And he had nothing to do with the Teapot Dome affair, the worst crimes of which were committed after he died. All in all, he was an admirable chief executive, though he may have been better served by a different speechwriter than Mr Welliver.

  41. Andrew (not the same one) said,

    August 29, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

    Regarding 'internets': I agree with Kylopod. It may have lost any specific connection with Bush, but it's still ironic. A similar term is 'the Interweb', which I believe comes from The Simpsons. It is even possible to combine them, to make 'the Interwebs'.

  42. mollymooly said,

    August 29, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

    @Coby Lubliner:

    Whether or not "normalcy" was coined or popularized by Harding, it seems to have become so prevalent that MWCD11 lists only it and not "normality."

    "normality" is in MWCD11 s.v. "normal"; obvious derivatives go under the main headword, whereas non-obvious derivatives get a separate entry.

    How, then, did "normalcy" come about? (Or, for that matter, "captaincy" and "chaplaincy"?)

    There are also "colonelcy" and "generalcy", which suggests the Army is to blame for inappropriate use of -cy. But that would be a better explanation if "normalcy" was coined by Washington, Grant, or Eisenhower. Did Judson Welliver have a military background?

  43. Mark P said,

    August 30, 2010 @ 11:07 am

    @Bernard McGinley – Fox News is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who is a naturalized US citizen born in Australia. He started his newspaper life in Australia and became a US citizen in 1985 so that he could own a US television station.

  44. Bernard McGinley said,

    August 31, 2010 @ 6:58 am

    @ Mark P: that was my point. As I said, Fox News is American- owned (by a Fleet Street exile). The BBC is far from perfect, but the response here about 'the overall level of political discourse in British journalism' seemed oddly specific. Should I have mentioned the Financial Times or the Guardian or The Economist or the Spectator instead?

    Low standards of political discourse are not confined to Britain, and the creeping but increasing practice by hucksters and spinmeisters of 'refute' to mean 'deny' – even if the OED describes it – is a form of deliberate deception. This pernicious usage should be identified and challenged and in other ways resisted, for all our sakes. Perhaps pro tem we can distinguish between 'refute ha-ha' [we win by refuting their refutation] and 'refute peculiar' [they are shown to be indulging in special pleading, lightly coded].

  45. David Walker said,

    August 31, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

    I didn't hear "war" in the audio file either.

  46. ohwilleke said,

    September 8, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

    Thumbs down to "refudiate."

    It comes across a bit like the use of the word "garnishee" as a verb, as in "he garnisheed my wages," which is an awful usage that has gained enough acceptance to be printed in newspapers unaccompanied by the editorial notiation "[sic]" to my great displeasure.

    It reeks of convoluted and muddled thinking, when better rhetoric would embrace a simpler word like "refute."

  47. More Articles/Blogs Featuring JW « The Judson Welliver Project said,

    September 20, 2010 @ 8:59 pm

    [...] of Harding's employment of him as a "literary clerk." A blog posting from "Language Log" discusses JW in the context of Harding's unusual langauge use, particularly as concerns the [...]

  48. Cyndy said,

    October 6, 2010 @ 10:12 pm

    Refudiate: They were missin' one player on the
    baseball field…and cuz we couldn't play a real game refudiate of 'em
    outta the park.

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