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Palin perseverates

According to karoll at Crooks and Liars ("Sarah Palin Wonders Aloud if Libya Action is a 'Squirmish'", 3/29/2011): Madam Malaprop, thy name is Sarah Palin. [...] Called in by Fox News to deconstruct President Obama's speech, she wonders aloud whether the Libya action is a war, an intervention or a "squirmish". And so she does, […]

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"Dictionary love for Palin"

There was some grumbling on the American Dialect Society list last week after the New Oxford American Dictionary announced its selection of refudiate as Word of the Year (like Christmas decorations, these days the WOTYs go up before people have even ordered their Thanksgiving turkeys). The choice was a blatant publicity stunt, some said, and […]

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Miscorrecting Palin

Sarah Palin's Twitter feed continues to attract a mind-boggling amount of international media attention, most recently for the act of "favoriting" a tweet from Ann Coulter, which contained a photograph of a church sign with inflammatory things to say about President Obama. Palin, or whoever runs her Twitter account, subsequently "unfavorited" the tweet, and Palin […]

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Sarah Palin's distal demonstratives

I'm going to venture to disagree with my colleague and friend John McWhorter's diagnosis of "What does Palinspeak mean?" (TNR, 4/6/2010). Of course, I don't disagree with John's observation that Sarah Palin's speech style is folksy and informal. As for his comment that "Palin [...] has grown up squarely within a period of American history […]

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Palin and her elk

Via Nancy Friedman's Twitter feed comes this lovely eggcorn, in a comment on the New York Times Opinionator blog: NOW is in the wrong fight. The issues should be about access to affordable healthcare and jobs. Without addressing these issues, NOW and others have nothing to offer the average Jane and in consequence, have allowed […]

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The living history of Palin's "dead fish"

In two recent posts, Mark Liberman has investigated the religious echoes in expressions from Sarah Palin: "I know that I know that I know" and "If I die, I die." In my latest Word Routes column on the Visual Thesaurus, I take up yet another religiously evocative Palinism: "Only dead fish go with the flow." […]

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Sarah Palin's Favorite Meal

John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate has not been without controversy, but I think that we can all agree that one way in which it has been a good thing is that it has increased the visibility of the important topic of moose, which in burger form is reportedly her favorite […]

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Obambulate — and bidentate, palinal, and ??

Several readers have pointed me to Anu Garg's  A.Word.A.Day entry for yesterday, obambulate: MEANING: verb tr.: To walk about. ETYMOLOGY: From Latin ob- (towards, against) + ambulare (to walk). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ambhi- (around) that is also the source of ambulance, alley, preamble, and bivouac. The first print citation of the word is […]

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Palin's tactical g-lessness

I really like Mark's "empathetic -in'" in place of "g-dropping," though it may require a public campaign to make the substitution. Just by way of a footnote to that post, I did a "Fresh Air" piece on accent and authenticity last week which ended with some comments on the development of Palin's g-dropping (with video […]

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Pinker on Palin's "nucular"

In an op-ed in Saturday's New York Times, Steve Pinker tries to explain or extenuate some of Sarah Palin's linguistic derelictions, real and alleged. Among other things, he says that Palin shouldn't be taxed for saying "nucular," which is  …not a sign of ignorance. This reversal of vowel-like consonants (nuk-l’-yer —> nuk-y’-ler) is common in the […]

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Palin's accent

Sarah Palin's accent has elicited a great deal of curiosity, and now Slate has posted a well-researched analysis by the OED's Jesse Sheidlower. Here's the first paragraph: Since Sarah Palin was selected as the Republican candidate for vice president, many people have made comments about her unusual speech, comparing it to accents heard in the […]

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What Palin's gonna do

Philip Gourevitch's "The State of Sarah Palin" (New Yorker, 22 September, p. 66-7) quotes from an interview with the vice-presidential candidate: "We're not just gonna concede to three big oil companies of this monopoly–Exxon, B.P., ConocoPhillips–and beg them to do this [build a natural gas pipeline] for Alaska," Palin told me last month in Juneau. […]

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Sarah Palin

What with all the controversy over Sarah Palin's views and (lack of) qualifications to be President, as far as I can tell thus far no one has claimed that she is prone to linguistic errors. That's really too bad. If only she would make the right sort of error, rather than the mundane bushisms we […]

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Rocking the snark

Today's Doonesbury: This is actually a re-run of a strip from 1/8/2013, and not everyone got it then: Apologies for the non-sequitur, but in today’s Doonesbury strip a character uses the phrase “to rock the snark”. Does anyone know what this phrase means? Nobody answered the question on that 2013 comment thread, but we're here […]

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"Hard vowel sounds"

"Red-blue divisions start with newborns’ names; parents show partisan tendencies", Washington Times 6/5/2013: Names with the soft consonant “l” or that end in a long “a” — for example, President Obama’s daughter Malia — are more likely to be found in Democratic neighborhoods, while names with hard vowel sounds such as K, G or B […]

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