Alas, poor English

I try to avoid politics, in real life and especially here. I have scars, and I keep away like I keep away from fire. But this is just ridiculous, and it’s pushed every button I have. This isn’t politics – this is language. And, for God’s sake, Shakespeare.

In a recent tweet, and then on live television, Sarah bloody Palin said that peaceful Muslims should “refudiate” the plans to build a Muslim center near Ground Zero. Then someone must have told her that isn’t, in point of fact, a word, and she deleted the tweet – or had someone who knew how delete it. She could not, however, delete the live broadcast.

In a bid to make George W. Bush look better, the Palin creature has created what I guess could be called a portmanteau word, if you wanted to grit your teeth and let it be called a word; it could be a conflation of “refute” and “repudiate”. If she had done it on purpose, it would be almost clever (except that “refute” has nothing to do with what she was attempting to say). She clearly didn’t do it on purpose; she was all het up about the subject – which I’m not even going to touch (and in the unlikely event anyone should comment on the subject, any such comments, pro and con both, will be deleted) – and even if she were capable it wasn’t the time for wordplay.


verb: prove to be false or incorrect

verb: overthrow by argument, evidence, or proof

(Neither of which is correct in this context.)


verb: refuse to acknowledge, ratify, or recognize as valid

verb: reject as untrue, unfounded, or unjust

verb: refuse to recognize or pay

verb: cast off or disown

(Maybe the first definition, or the second with “unjust”? But no, that’s not correct either. Four? Maybe? Sort of?)

And then to defend herself she put up another tweet: “English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!”

Shakespeare. She’s gone with the stale, flat, unprofitable, and utterly inappropriate excuse for an excuse used by Shrub supporters for years: Shakespeare made crap up!

I never even wanted to acknowledge this person’s existence, but that tears it. This is where I come in.

I don’t really need to repeat the part about “on purpose = maybe clever”, do I?

(To stave off any objections on this point: Shakespeare is credited with the coining of hundreds of words (1500 by one count). He may not have actually created all of them, and imo probably didn’t – but they were first used in print under his name.)

I remember when I used to watch a great deal of figure skating, in the days of Kurt Browning and Scott Hamilton and Brian Boitano, that one of them (Scottie, I think) had a routine in which he tripped and stumbled and fumbled and slid and slipped all over the ice, and it was brilliant. One of the commentators pointed out that in order to make it look like you’re skating very badly you have to know how to skate very, very well indeed.

Every person I trust on the subject of writing style says, in one manner or another, that there are rules and guidelines for using the English language, and “you should know the rules first before you break them”. “Only break rules you fully understand and have good reason to break.” “We can only allow ourselves to break rules when we’re absolutely sure it’ll work because we understand exactly why the rule is as it is.” You have to know how to skate extremely well before you can pretend to skate extremely badly without falling on your ass. “Don’t make crap up.” (That’s mine.)

Heh – I just found this:

I don’t think I have to point out that Shakespeare knew the rules. He had such complete control over the words he used that he could play with them, make them dance. Palin … remember my little story about skating. She’s not pretending, is the thing.

(*hits spellcheck*) (*notes that not only is “refudiate” not a word – neither is “Palin”* If only both words could be eradicated from common use.)

“English is a living language” – until ignorance stalks it from a helicopter and shoots it with a long-range rifle.

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2 Responses to Alas, poor English

  1. accountantgrrl says:

    It was probably a bad reaction to the news that her daughter, Bristol, was, in fact, going to marry Levi Johnston. ;-)

    Or she’s a complete idiot.

  2. stewartry says:


    I keep praying she or some portion of the family will get a reality show – a really trashy, sleazy, appalling reality show. I’d consider it the lesser, by far, of two evils – it might keep her out of the White House!

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