"Journalists and pundants"

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There's been quite a bit of discussion about Sarah Palin's commentary on the Tucson shootings, and most of it has been about the segment where she characterizes criticism of her gunsight map as "a blood libel":

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If you don't like their ideas
you're free to propose better ideas
especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding
journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel
that serves only to incite
the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn.
That is reprehensible.

I don't have anything to add to the conversation about the (in)appropriateness of the "blood libel" metaphor, but I did notice something else about the phrase in question, namely that Ms. Palin pronounces pundits as /ˈpʌn.dɪnts/ — that is, as if it were spelled "pundants":

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The nasal murmur is very plain to the ear, and to the eye in a spectrogram — it's underlined in red in the plot below, which shows the "and pundits" portion:

"Pundant" would be a sensible re-analysis, since pundit is otherwise a sort of morphological isolate in English, derived from Sanskrit paṇḍita "learned man". (Our everyday "commentator" usage changes the etymological 'a' vowel to 'u', in accord with the pronunciation). If the word were "pundant", the "-ant" ending would evoke peasant, tyrant, giant, servant, commandant, pedant, sergeant, and so on.

This reanalysis is easy to find on the web, often followed by some pedant's critique. You can even find examples in the media and in books. Dick Cavett complains ("A Night at the Primaries", NYT 2/6/2008) that

Now, if the prominent newsman on screen will obey my email asking him to stop pronouncing “pundit” as “pundant,” I will, in my column, give him full credit. Or as he would say, “credant.”

(Can anyone guess which "prominent newsman" he's talking about?)

Both in writing and in speech, however, we can't tell whether individual instances are really reanalyses or simply slips of the tongue or pen. Since in this case Sarah Palin's recorded statement was carefully scripted and rehearsed, and apparently read from a teleprompter, I'm inclined to think that her pronunciation of "pundant" was a slip of the tongue that somehow slipped through the A/V editing process.

If this she consistently uses this pronunciation, the judgment would swing towards the reanalysis theory; but after a bit of searching, I haven't found any other recorded examples in which she uses this word.

[Update — but Lance did, in her 2008 acceptance speech, about 2:00 minutes in:

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This suggests a consistent reanalysis on her part, rather than two slips of the tongue.]

[Update #2 — and there's another one in the passage presented in "Is a title and is a campaign too WHAT?", 9/29/2011.]


  1. Rubrick said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 7:15 pm

    Not quite an isolate: "plaudit" springs to mind (although it's rarely used in the singular).

    [(myl) There are other words in -it as well (credit, debit, omit, remit) but none of them are names for human types or roles.

    (Update — well, there's bandit, as Mr. Fnortner observes below.]

  2. Heather said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 7:50 pm

    After saying "pundit" to myself several times, I have realized that I, too, pronounce it as "pundant".


    I think my brain is thinking that "pundit" has a similar pronunciation as "pendant". The N in the first syllable makes me want to pronounce an N in the second.

  3. Kylopod said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 7:56 pm

    I would be interested in seeing LL's take on the claim made by Alan Dershowitz and others that the phrase "blood libel" has long been used metaphorically in public discourse, and that Palin's use of the phrase is in keeping with that tradition.

  4. Dw said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 8:05 pm

    It seems likely that this will only happen to speakers with the weak vowel merger. There aren't very many words ending in /Int/

  5. HP said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

    @Kylopod — I wouldn't be surprised if the phrase "blood libel" has been used metaphorically. But it's really hard to see where the metaphor in this case makes any damn sense at all.

    Indeed, if you were take the characterization of Health Care Reform as "death panels," and added incitement to violence, the "blood libel" metaphor might almost be plausible, if a bit overwrought.

    But this is Language Log, not Let's Post On an Incendiary Topic and Leave Comments Open and Then Castigate Readers for Getting Too Political Log, so I'll leave it at that.

  6. Dan Lufkin said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

    Yes, Language Log is truly exceptional.

  7. John said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

    I've long noticed this same phenomenon in the name of the former CIA director, Tenet, which I typically heard as "Tenant," as if he were renting out an apartment. Here's an example from a 60 Minutes piece:


  8. Pedant said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 9:05 pm

    I can think of a few words in -it that could be said to describe types of human (twit, halfwit, misfit, Inuit). But none that specifically describe roles as "pundit" does.

  9. Kylopod said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 9:06 pm


    The question is not whether it's been used at all, but whether it's been used widely. As an analogy, when Bush dropped his use of the word "crusade" in 2001 out of fear of offending Muslims, his usage was at least understandable: to most English speakers, "crusade" is just a generic term for fighting for something.

    But I'm not sure "blood libel" has become quite so generic. On Google News archive, for example, the overwhelming majority of hits come in articles that mention Jews or Israel. And when it's used outside of a Jewish context, it usually signifies an attack on another minority group. I'm unfamiliar with the use of the term to suggest an attack on an individual who's not part of a minority group. It may not be unheard of, but I'm not sure it's very common much less established.

    I'm not trying to derail this thread, I just was curious if one of the LL writers could research into this, potentially for a separate post.

  10. Brett said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 9:29 pm

    I certainly pronounced it "pundant" until some time in my teens, when I realized the correct pronunciation and made an effort to adjust my own.

    Regarding the use of "blood libel," I have certainly heard it used in contexts unrelated to antisemitic accusations. Generally, there seems to be no metaphorical connection that I can discern to the conventional meaning. Such usages do not seem to be common, however, and I always find them jarring (and, depending on my mood, sometimes offensive).

  11. Vol-E said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 9:43 pm


    As a frequenter of religion-themed blogs, I constantly encounter people who misuse "tenant" in place of "tenet." ("Isn't that one of the tenants of your faith?"). One day I'll run out of Advil and Pepto and then some commenter is gonna be in trouble! :D

    Blood libel is a highly emotional topic for many Jews — not one to be tossed out lightly to make a point. Socially aware individuals who have made a study of history understand this.

    …and that's all I have to say about that.

  12. bloix said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

    I have never heard "blood libel" where the person said to be libeled was not Jewish. I have heard it used, outside the historic context, as a metaphor for accusations that the State of israel has caused the deaths of non-Jews. Ariel Sharon called the accusation that he was responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacres a blood libel, and Dershowitz called the accusations that Israel had engaged in massacres in Gaza a blood libel, but these are conscious efforts to link criticisms of modern Israel to historic anti-Semitism.

  13. John said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 10:07 pm

    Just watching the president's speech today in AZ:


    Just at the 46:54 mark, he says /tenant/ for "tenet." I suspect he knows how to spell the word.

    [(myl) I noticed that too. My impression is that this is a very common re-analysis/mispronunciation (as Vol-E and John observe below), much more common than "pundant". At least, I've often noticed it, and I've never noticed "pundant" — though such impressions are often wrong.

    Arnold Zwicky has noticed these and quite a number of other n-intrusions and n-deletions, as he reports in a later comment.]

  14. matt tracy said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

    oh god.
    the blood libel thing is a christian-orthodox jewish dog whistle. Let us please leave it at that? It kind of ties in with the right wing faux anti-semitism that arose back in those halcyon anti 9/11 mosque days.
    Now the pundit/pundant thing. Even if I was a right wing zealot I truly believe I would be saying the same thing right now: Does she really merit this level of analysis? Her speech patterns derive more from self-absorbed ignorance than anything else. If she says pundant, it's because she's just kind of dumb and doesn't come from a rich background of literate forbears. There really ain't more to it than that. I promise you a cord of wood that she talks that way because she doesn't know any better.
    Nor does she realize how petty she appears to be to most even-tempered americans, sitting there all made up in front of the camera whining that the media misinterpreted her inane campaign rhetoric, while decent people are dead. In ancient Sanskrit, I believe the word "pundant" can be loosely translated as "go away forever palin. you suck."

  15. HP said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

    @Kylopod: I suspect we're in agreement on the major issues. As much as I love Language Log, one of my frustrations as a reader is the reluctance of Mark and the other Loggers to take a clear and unambiguous position when language butts heads with politics. Which is often (fragment).

    I mean, I understand why they do it, and I accept that. But still, it would be nice to know where individuals stand.

    [(myl) In this case, my reaction when I heard her statement was similar to John Scalzi's. On the other hand, I recognize, as Deborah Tannen does, that expressions can become semantically bleached. As I said, I don't think I have anything to add to that conversation that hasn't already been said many times by others.]

  16. Mr Fnortner said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 10:52 pm

    OK, so there's bandit, a decidedly human type or role.

    Does anyone else have difficulty pronouncing ordnance as just two syllables?

  17. Uly said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 11:22 pm

    I have seen blood libel used for non-Jewish people… where the libel in question was almost exactly the same as the one used against the Jews, in a "We're all human and we all attack our enemies with the same disgusting lies" way.

    If nobody is accusing anybody of killing babies, it hardly counts.

  18. HP said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 11:31 pm

    @MYL: No real surprises, though thanks for the link to Scalzi's discussion thread. There is sometimes a strange, unwordly apoliticalness to Language Log that is hard to justify. Maybe that's GKP's doing, more than you. But since you guys opened up comments, it's been hard to figure out what is and is not acceptable for comment.

    FWIW, I don't believe "pundint" is in my spoken or written vocabulary. For whatever the reason, the ghost of Jawaharlal Nehru hovers over me whenever I consider speaking or writing the word in question, and I'm not even that old.

  19. HP said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

    unwordly s/unworldly /b
    pundint a/pundant /b

  20. Matthew Leon Grinshpun said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 11:36 pm

    If you google under the spelling "pundint" you will find at least one other instance of this mispronunciation.

    Example: http://blog.nj.com/njv_paul_mulshine/2008/09/this_pundint_is_appalled_by_pa.html

  21. Chris Waugh said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 11:59 pm

    "There is sometimes a strange, unwordly apoliticalness to Language Log that is…" …a welcome breath of fresh air. A very, very welcome breath of fresh air.

  22. Hermann Burchard said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 12:04 am

    Apparently an American-English Phonetic Law (ML's specialty) has been unearthed here on LL, in the pundit-pundant & tenet-tenant speech habits, quite common even for more than one commenter (is that really an English word, Vol-E). I am reminded of the nuclear-nukyelar matter, also quite common among many educated speakers. GWB has been ridiculed for the latter, unfairly so, because American English speakers are entitled to their own phonetic neuro-physiologically adapted system. The succession of phonemes in the two examples: 1. unstressed terminal -it -> ant, & 2. kle (schwa) -> kyel, naturally are adjusted by speakers so as to "roll more easily off the (American English) tongue." — Really, really had got my hopes up for a proper linguist "commenter" to explain the above, a topic here usurped by a mere applied maths guy/ maths philosopher (see my two papers in Foundations of Science 2005 and Nov 2010 online before print — topics are linguistic in a mathematical sense).

  23. Arnold Zwicky said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 12:35 am

    My files on -ant/-ent vs, -ate have, at the moment:

    missing n: abstinate, conscious [for conscience], consonate [vs. vowel], delinquate, dominate [adj.], elephate, fraudulate [adj.], inclimate, inherit [for inherent], participate [n.], predominate [adj.; see dominate above], pregnate, prominate

    intrusive n: celebant, delicant, estiments, fortunant, illiterant, inadequant, indiscriminant(ly), inordinant, legitimant, obstinant, passionant, pundent [for pundit], relented [for related]

  24. Dave Bath said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 12:57 am

    Maybe it's a US thing as I've never heard "pundant" used here in Oz.

    I saw the post title and thought it was a piece about how authors of op-eds use lots of bad puns in the headline for their column.

  25. Wade Dowdell said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 2:43 am

    Perhaps it's something as simple as perseveration of the /n/, as in the common US pronunciation of united as "you-NINE-(t)-ed".

  26. Adrian Bailey (UK) said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 2:53 am

    Looking at the quoted section of Palin's speech, I don't get how criticising violent rhetoric "serves to incite hatred and violence".

  27. Lance said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 3:51 am

    To get back to Mark's point: there's a recording of Palin's acceptance speech at the convention in 2008 at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94258995 . Two minutes in, she says, "But the pollsters and pundits overlooked just one thing when they wrote him off." When she does, I again very distinctly hear "pundants"; and again, she's speaking from what are well-prepared and presumably rehearsed comments. So it seems like a reanalysis of sorts.

    [(myl) Nice find!]

    Also, a quick comment on Kylopod's question: when I read the Dershowitz piece, my first thought was "Well, that's a LanguageLog-style empirical question, isn't it. So I went and looked–sadly, I don't have much to go on other than searching Google News. But if you look at Google news for the past month, you can find a few uses of it before Adam Graham's January 9th piece in which he said that this was "the political equivalent of a blood libel". Most of them are literal; a few of them are metaphorical, though in some of the latter cases the metaphor is for supposed Israeli organ-harvesting in Haiti, so as a metaphor it's not stretched very far. (There's one interesting case of (a report of) the New Yorker using it about Glenn Beck, though again in this instance they're using it about Beck's accusation that George Soros sent Jews to the death camps, so again the metaphor is used with very deliberate attention to its literal meaning.) You can skim through the 2009-2010 uses, but the metaphorical uses don't seem "frequent", and when it is used metaphorically it seems to still be applying to an entire people, as opposed to a single person. (For instance, Andrew Sullivan calls a reference to gay men as "perverts who target our children" as an equivalent of the blood-libel: that is, a false accusation of depravity directed at an entire class of people.)

    [(myl) The first thing that's hard here — as you observe — is that there are several matters of degree that are difficult to estimate: the term has clearly been used in a figurative way, but how often in comparison to the literal uses? and how far from literal is each of them? The second complexity is that the decision to use this term is mainly an issue of politics and public relations rather than lexicography: it should have been clear that some people would be offended at the implicit comparison to the victims of real "blood libels" over the centuries, and that others would be offended at the argument that to be criticized for excessively violent rhetoric is to be a victim of a "reprehensible" attack. So the real usage question here is whether Ms. Palin and her speechwriters knew what they were doing and did it anyhow, perhaps in order to stir up controversy and stay in the news; or whether they simply wandered into a pragmatic minefield without really understanding what they were doing.

    All of these points have been made by various of the hundreds of others who have already weighed in on this issue. I considered and rejected the idea of re-stating the issues from my own perspective; I did a bit of looking into the history of the phrase "blood libel", and gave it up as inconclusive for the reasons mentioned above; I wondered whether Palin's delivery of the crucial lines might shed some light on things, and didn't really come up with anything. Her pronunciation of pundit is weak sauce, I know, but it's what I've got for now.]

  28. John F said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 3:55 am

    In the UK we have many political pundits, but almost everyone with an opinion on sport is a pundit, particularly in football, which is probably why I've never heard pundint/pundant.

    Though adding the n to the second syllable makes me think of pungeant.

    @Wade Dowdell: In US usage I've heard you-nigh-ded for united, just like inner-ned for internet, but never you-nine-(t)ed. Maybe it's just the TV shows I watch.

  29. Bob Ladd said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 4:14 am

    @Dave Bath and others: I think this particular case (pundit/pundant) is indeed more likely to occur in NAm English than elsewhere, because most NAm varieties don't distinguish (or don't distinguish very reliably) between /I/ and schwa in completely unstressed syllables, whereas many other varieties do. For example, for many British (and I presume also Oz/NZ) speakers, salad and valid don't rhyme, whereas for most NAm speakers they do. So for NAm speakers pundit and pundant are identical except for the presence or absence of the /n/, while for Brit/Oz/NZ speakers they have different vowels in the final syllable. This is unlike most of the other cases on Arnold Zwicky's list, where all varieties will agree on having a schwa in the final syllable whether the /n/ is present or not. I've certainly heard the variable /n/ in the UK in both predominant/predominate and indiscriminant/indiscriminate.

  30. Ben Hemmens said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 5:04 am

    Is it the same thing as tenet –>tenant?

    [(myl) It certainly seems to be related. See here and here.]

  31. bbleeker said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 6:59 am

    Isn't she just confused between pundit and pedant?

  32. GeorgeW said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 7:03 am

    “I recognize, as Deborah Tannen does, that expressions can become semantically bleached”

    Yes, but the blood libel here is not so bleached. She is accused of indirect responsibility for the shooting in Tucson (the blood portion of the expression). While I often find her statements barely comprehensible, this one actually makes some sense (linguist).

    With regard to the /-it/ > /-ant/, maybe this is influenced by the common noun suffix /-ment/ with the /nt/ cluster and the vowel pronounced as a schwa.

  33. Joe said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 7:05 am

    Sorry, to bring keep bringing this back to "blood libel," but the WSJ had an editorial by Glenn Reynolds, The Arizona Tragedy and the Politics of Blood Libel the day before Palin gave her speech. I read through some of the comments, and no one commented upon the phrase "blood libel." But then Reynolds is a law professor . . .

  34. Jon Weinberg said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 7:11 am

    @HP: It may not be necessary to say this, but I think "the reluctance of Mark and the other Loggers to take a clear and unambiguous position when language butts heads with politics" is exactly as it should be. This is an enjoyable forum for reading about language because it's (almost entirely) not a forum for talking about politics.

  35. Nik Berry said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 7:29 am

    @Mr Fnortner

    "Does anyone else have difficulty pronouncing ordnance as just two syllables?"

    Yes. But the word comes from 'ordinance', so that's not so strange,

  36. Picky said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 8:01 am

    I think I heard the president say "tenant" for "tenet" in his Tucson address.

    [(myl) Yes.]

  37. Eric P Smith said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 8:05 am

    We could go on for ever about Sarah Palin's pronunciations. In the same extract that Mark Liberman includes with his post, she plainly says "pruport" for "purport".

  38. baylink said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 8:09 am

    No Bloody Shirt Theory connection, then?

  39. GeorgeW said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 9:38 am

    @Joe: This WSJ article may have been the inspiration for Palins' use of the expression. When I first heard it, I wondered where a Wasilla girl would have picked up the expression. This could well be her source .

  40. Dw said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 10:01 am

    @Bob Ladd:

    The Weak Vowel Merger is general in Australia and New Zealand: more so than in the US. I agree with your general argument, though.

  41. Paul Mulshine said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 11:07 am

    The mispronunciation is almost favored on talk radio, I would say as a student of that medium. It's rare to hear "pundit" pronouced properly. What's grating to my ear, though, is that the speaker invariably seems to be reaching for a word a bit above his or her educational level. To do so and then mispronounce the word makes the speaker seem doubly foolish.

  42. KevinM said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

    Tenants of my faith would potentially expose me to liability under the Fair Housing Act.

  43. doug fudge said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

    @KevinM – *blood* liability, that is.

  44. D.O. said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

    One strange thing is that in the fragment 'journalists and pundits" the analogy (rhyme if you wish) points out to ommiting -n- if it were there. Can it be a hypercorrection of sorts?

  45. Robert Furber said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

    In terms of going from ant -> ate, I had a book on computer graphics where the author consistently referred to the "determinate" of a matrix.

  46. Fritinancy said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 2:32 pm

    A related n-intrusion: Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in the AZ shootings, uses "conscience dreaming" for "conscious dreaming" in his YouTube videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/Classitup10

    (Already alluded to in a comment on MYL's Jan. 10 post: http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2897#comment-102648)

  47. Sven said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

    The n-insertion in "pundit" is not that uncommon, and may often be unintentional or even unconscious. It almost cost someone a Jeopardy! game: http://www.j-archive.com/showgame.php?game_id=1013&highlight=pundint. There was some controversy in that case whether the "n" was in fact pronounced. The discussion can be found at boards.sonypictures.com/boards/showthread.php?t=24323. (Full disclosure: I participated in that discussion, defending the contestant.)

  48. J. W. Brewer said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

    Like some others here, I can definitely recall previously hearing "tenet" pronounced "tenant" but not previously hearing "pundit" pronounced "pundant." It seems perhaps relevant that "tenant," unlike "pundant," is also the standard pronunciation of another English word that is probably more frequently used than "tenet." But I don't know whether that means speakers might be more likely to make the error or just that listeners might be more likely to notice (and subsequently remember) the error, because they might for a split second have the more jarring reaction that the speaker was using a totally nonsensical-in-context word, rather than simply mispronouncing a sensible-in-context word. It could, of course, be some of both.

  49. Hermann Burchard said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

    Reading up on "reanalysis," is this a similar to "folk etymology" — this would help me understand some of these comments.

    As an example of reanalysis, in this sense, a well-known preacher, no longer alive, routinely mispronounced 'psychiatrist' as 'psy-care-a-tist', i.e., a person who will care for a patient's psy[che]. His was a humble working class background from the Dallas, TX area but he went on to become one of the founders of the charismatic (pentecostal) movement.

    Still, my sense is that /-it/ > /-ant/ is more likely a case of phonetic limits/ constraints inherent in American-English phonology – if that makes sense, and so would be /nuclear/ > /nukyelar/.

  50. Spectre-7 said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 7:38 pm

    I occasionally run into folks who pronounce "turret" (a rotating gun emplacement) as "turrent", and spell it that way as well.

    Turrent is apparently common enough to have attracted an Urban Dictionary entry:

    A common misspelling of the word "turret," usually made by people with a fourth-grade education.

  51. Lal Zimman said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 7:56 pm

    This seems like it must be related to the tendency among many speakers of American English to realized a final Vnt sequence as a nasalized vowel followed by a glottal(ized) stop (as in a word like "point", for example). Perhaps this creates more of a continuum of nasality in how these words are realized, which might affect perception?

  52. Dw said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 9:37 pm

    @Lal Zimman:

    Yes — that makes a lot of sense.

    A speaker with both the Weak Vowel Merger and a nasalization rule for vowels would have a very small articulatory difference between "pundit" and "*pundent":

    pundit: [pʌ̃dəʔ]

    *pundent: [pʌ̃də̃ʔ]

    As compared to, say, my Britishy

    pundit: [pʌndɪt]

    *pundent: [pʌndənt]

  53. Jerry Friedman said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 10:45 pm

    @Kylopod: Blood libel was discussed at alt.usage.english too, naturally, and a poster named Jared gave this citation from 2002 of the journalist Andrew Sullivan using "blood-libel" for the belief that gay people are "all pedophiles under the skin."

  54. Kylopod said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 11:27 pm


    Thanks. I did a post on the subject earlier today, and I'm going to try not to thread-jack any more. I will just say that I don't find Sullivan's use of the term inappropriate.

  55. Bloix said,

    January 14, 2011 @ 12:15 pm

    Blogger Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler has collected metaphorical uses of "blood libel" by liberals and "semi-liberals" (some of these are not liberals at all, to my understanding), http://www.dailyhowler.com/

    A google search shows that the term has been used about myths concerning AIDS, some of them (in Arab countries) involving Jews – the Jews invented AIDS, Jewish doctors intentionally spread AIDS – and others concerning gay and lesbian people. AIDS of course concerns an infection found in the blood (and other bodily fluids) and it's often a fatal condition so there's an easy connection to make from the historic meaning to this use.

  56. dfg said,

    January 14, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

    she says pundant in the clip where she was pranked and thought she was talking to Sarkozy

  57. Bloix said,

    January 14, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

    The Washington Times raises the stakes, calling the attack on Palin's use of "blood libel" a "pogrom":


    How can this possibly be unintentional? I know this blog is not a big fan of his, but this is positively Orwellian.

  58. jf said,

    January 14, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    Plenty of previons non-Jewish blood libel references here:http://www.nationalreview.com/campaign-spot/256955/term-blood-libel-more-common-you-might-think

  59. Twitter Trackbacks for Language Log » “Journalists and pundants” [upenn.edu] on Topsy.com said,

    January 14, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

    […] Language Log » “Journalists and pundants” languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2902#more-2902 – view page – cached There's been quite a bit of discussion about Sarah Palin's commentary on the Tucson shootings, and most of it has been about the segment where she characterizes criticism of her gunsight map as "a blood libel": […]

  60. Hermann Burchard said,

    January 15, 2011 @ 12:34 am

    As a science, linguistics is neither normative nor prescriptive, so to investigate possible explanations for observed speech patterns is expected among linguists with their specialized phonetic training.

    However, in 1530, Martin Luther urged "man soll dem Volk aufs Maul schauen." In this tradition, as an immigrant of 47 years in the U.S., I came to accept local speech as correct speech. Several comments state /pundent/ is common, at least wide-spread, in American English — as is /nukyular/ — hence I infer that these are correct phonetic renditions.

  61. Richard Howland-Bolton said,

    January 15, 2011 @ 8:28 am

    Since she was fuming against spoken comments wouldn't she have been more accurate and less controversial to have said "blood slander"?

  62. Kylopod said,

    January 15, 2011 @ 6:37 pm


    Of course it was intentional. It's like when Rush Limbaugh recently referred to attacks on himself as a "high-tech lynching," borrowing a phrase Clarence Thomas used during the Anita Hill controversy. They're just sitting around thinking of more ways to piss liberals off.

  63. Hermann Burchard said,

    January 16, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

    Did Bill O'Reilly say /pundentry/ for /punditry/ in his interview of Dana Perino (replayed Sunday afternoon)?

  64. Ben Hemmens said,

    January 17, 2011 @ 2:04 am

    pundint, rhymes with varmint ;-)

    i suspect there is an oval office dictionary of folksy pronunciation that gets handed down from president to president, gaining a couple of entries from each incumbent…

  65. Atmir Ilias said,

    January 17, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

    She pronounces it “pΛndəns” in stead of “pΛndIts”; I think that the “pən-dət” pronunciation of some dictionaries is wrong, except Macmillan English Dictionary. It’s very interesting how she pronounces the “-nə-lists” of JOUONARLISTS. She pronounces it “jər-nə lis” without the “ts’-end sound. Normally, she has to pronounce approximately the same ending “Its” of “JOUONARLISTS” for the next word PUNDIT. She strangely pronounced it “pΛndəns” , doing again a mistake, eliminating not only the “I” and ‘t’ sounds, but also putting a new “n” sound. This is so subtle that where she found that “n”.

    The evolution of spoken sounds is complicated, however I think that the transformation of vowel *o passes three major stages:
    (1)The *o changes an *a. (2) the *a changes to an *e. (3)The *e changes to an *ə.
    (1) The *o changes to an *u. (2) The *u changes to an *a.(3) The *a changes to an *e.

    I like also to give you some grains of a radically different direction of what scholars actually believe about the ‘pundit’ etymology. I think it emerged from other development and makes the association with the meaning “to know how to create or produce something by working’. I think it descended in the strait line from ‘pun’ and ‘di’.
    From Albanian language;
    1. /pun(ë)/ (noun) -‘ Work’
    2. /punoj, punue/(verb) -‘to work’
    3. /di/(verb) ‘to know’
    4. /i dit / (geg), (adj) , ‘erudite, knowledgeable’.

  66. Eric Vinyl said,

    January 18, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

    A decent handful of ghits for pundint, including Brians’ Common Errors in English Usage page, Democratic Underground, D. M. Pinkwater, and Urban Dictionary, all predating Palin’s speech.

  67. Bloix said,

    January 18, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

    “Blood libel obviously means being falsely accused of having blood on your hands,” Palin said in a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity.

    This after a solid week's worth of articles on what the blood libel is. She's a pure-bred solid gold 100% natural-born idiot.

  68. Urso said,

    January 19, 2011 @ 10:08 am

    Richard identifies the real problem here. I'd never heard the phrase "blood libel" before this whole brouhaha, and wouldn't have known how controversial it was until so many people pointed out that I should be offended. But by God I expect my politicians to know their libel from their slander.

  69. Neil fom Spain said,

    August 7, 2011 @ 8:01 am

    Wolf Blitzer always says "pundant" and it drives me nuts. Is that the "prominent newsman" you mentioned?
    O'Reilly and Hannity do, too. So basically, it seems that if you are an assh*le, you say "pundant"

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