Retitling Strunk & White

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From Ben Zimmer, who got it from Mike Klaas, who found it on the Wonder-Tonic site ("Written, Graphical, and Interactive Sundries by Mike Lacher") of 3/31/10, here:

(Ben notes that retitlings for other books are available here.)

And for some opinions on the desirability of being a dick, here's a Scenes from a Multiverse cartoon:

Dick is a "phallic pejorative" (Ben Zimmer's felicitous phrasing, in a comment on a posting of mine on weenie), along with prick and tool — a term for the penis extended metonymically for pejorative reference to the bearer of the penis, and (then, in some cases for some speakers) to generalized pejorative reference, regardless of sex.

You can spend a lot of time, entertainingly but unproductively, in a discussion of the distinctions between different pejoratives, say dick, prick, and asshole. Unproductively, because actual usage differs in complex ways between social groups, and, more important, because trying to discover facts about usage by consciously reflecting on your own behavior is a deeply flawed process. So, with apologies to readers who would love to shoot the bull on this topic, I'm keeping comments closed.

[Added 12/1/10: (a) Jonathan Falk adds schmuck to the list of phallic pejoratives. (b) Erin Stevenson O'Connor writes:

I suspect there is a reference in the Scenes from a Multiverse comic you included to Wil Wheaton's sort-of catchprase, "Don't Be A Dick!"

It was the title of his 2007 Penny Arcade Expo keynote (link). And it's in the header of his blog (link).

About the keynote speech: "The highlight of the speech … is Wheaton’s exhoration for modern gamers, who largely spend life hidden behind an anonymous wall of bits: Don’t Be a Dick."]

[Added 12/8/10: add putz 'penis; fool, idiot' to the list of phallic pejoratives.]

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