18 March 2020


The Beeb had an interview with a woman emerging from a supermarket, who said: "I haven't panicbuyed." What an amusing example of subverting a fashion and distancing oneself  by parodic allusion and comic polyptoton. I simply had no idea that such sophisticated people did their shopping in Aldi.

Then the newsreader went on to tell us that somebody had criticised Mr Trump for referring to"The Chinese virus".

President Trump is not really my cup of tea. But I would have thought that, in the current crisis, even PCLG, the Politically Correct Linguistic Gestapo, might have had something better to rabbit on about than their own petty little preoccupations.

Considering the Meejah more generally, I have to say that our TV has very little news apart from members of the chattering classes endlessly pontificating about you-know-what. Some of them say "Y'know" as many as five times in a single sentence. I feel like shouting at the screen "I do NOT know".

What's that you say? Now it's me rabbiting on about my own petty little preoccupations?

Philology is never a petty little matter.

I will not enable comments which inform me that "petty little" is tautologous.


√Čamonn said...

Surely "little" is descriptive, while "petty" is an intensifier? Thus the phrase not tautologous at all at all. Yeknow?

Brian M said...

The faithful are frightened for themselves and their children, and cannot offer up their fears in person at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Some of them might even misspeak when interviewed outside of a nearly empty supermarket. Surely a Catholic priest like yourself will show them compassion and offer your prayers for them, right? No, of course not, you petty little man.

Dad29 said...

I would have thought that, in the current crisis, even PCLG, the Politically Correct Linguistic Gestapo, might have had something better to rabbit on about than their own petty little preoccupations.

You would have been wrong. Their cousins, the people infected with Trump Derangement Syndrome, who are also members of the Press, have decried the President's stupidity for NOT having Cov19 tests readily available in sufficient quantity to test everyone with a sniffle immediately; they have decried the President for having closed traffic from Red China--and also for NOT having closed off borders quickly enough. They have promulgated the falsehood that the President turned down an offer of testing-kits from WHO (no such offer was ever made.)

We could go on, but you get the idea. You don't have to love Trump to understand that he is hated and slandered daily, if not more often, by the "Press."

Adrian said...

I am afraid that the woman in Aldi must be considerably more sophisticated than I am, as I cannot see where she has created her polyptoton. I thought a polyptoton involved the repetition of a word or word stem in different forms e.g. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? What I do find interesting is the tendency to take gerund phrases and turn them into indicatives e.g. 'cherry-pick' from 'cherry-picking', not heard of until fairly recently. Thus panic-buy' from 'panic-buying' instead of 'buy in a panic'. I don't think that is quite the same thing.

Banshee said...

The connotations of petty and little are different.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Media innumeracy. Just a footnote to my comments there about money in politics. (John Derbyshire)

Thursday evening MSNBC host Brian Williams was discussing this precise topic with Mara Gay, who sits on the New York Times editorial board. Over to them.

[Clip: Williams: Do you see it as a possibility if he wants to spend a billion bucks beating this guy, he could do it?

Gay: Absolutely. Um, somebody tweeted recently that, erm, actually, with the money he spent you could have given every American a million dollars …

Williams: I've got it. Let's put it up on the screen.

Gay: Yah.]

Up on the TV screen goes the image of a tweet from someone named Mekita Rivas. The tweet reads, quote:

Bloomberg spent $500 million on ads. The U.S. population is 327 million. He could have given each American $1 million and still have money left over. I feel like a $1 million check would be life-changing for most people. Yet he wasted it all on ads and STILL LOST.
End tweet.

Williams and his interviewee continue:

[Clip: Williams: When I read it, er, tonight on social media, it kind of all became clear. Bloomberg spent 500 million on ads, U.S. population 327 million — don't tell us if you're ahead of us on the math — he could've given each American one million dollars and have had lunch money left over. It's an incredible way of putting it.

Gay: It's an incredible way of putting it. It's true, it's disturbing, it does, it does suggest, y'know, what we're talking about here, which is: There's too much money in politics.}

Now, I have made arithmetical slips in public, and my usual reaction to seeing other people do so is: "There but for the grace of God go I." This one, though, is far beyond a mere slip: It is shriekingly innumerate. If you don't know that giving a million dollars to each of some millions of people is going to cost you trillions, you are not safe to be left alone around numbers.

When two of you, both earning far more than I do, agree on the blunder; and prepare a TV segment with the image of a tweet making the blunder, all without noticing anything amiss … I'm sorry, but that's disgraceful.

Enoch Powell famously remarked, speaking of mass immigration, that "numbers are of the essence." Yes, they are. They are the essence of a great many social issues.

If you don't have a basic instinctive feel for numbers — and if you confuse millions with trillions, you don't — you should not be doing public commentary, or sitting on the editorial board of a prestigious newspaper, or preparing prime-time political commentary shows for the screen.

Somebody here needs firing.


The media geniuses could have multiplied 1,000,000 times 337,000,000 but they are too stupid and lazy to do their own work...

GOR said...

Apparently, the Chinese Communist Regime is endeavouring to shift the responsibility for the Wuhan (Chinese) Virus onto the US...! While they sat on their hands for a month or more and silenced - or 'disappeared' - anyone who tried to warn of the danger, the virus was allowed to spread.

By their action - or inaction - they put much of the world at risk and a month or two was lost in tackling the epidemic. They also didn't allow staffers from the US Centers for Disease Control or WHO experts to come in and help with tackling the epidemic.

Their threat to cut off the export of medical supplies to the US, if we didn't bow down to their propaganda, is further indication of their bad faith. What is particularly galling is that the Mainstream Media here in the US and elsewhere have bought into their lies and are doing their work for them.

But it may come back to haunt them if, as I hope, American companies pull out of China and bring back production to the US.

Prayerful said...

I wonder if Cardinal Sorondo is still swooning over the CCP dictatorship as an embodiment of Catholic social values.

Thanks Fr for finding humour in little things in these dark days, even it makes me or you little and mean.

Tom Broughton said...

"Philology" is also a jazz record label. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/philology-records-by-ken-dryden.php

Frederick Jones said...

I wonder if the Aldi shopper took her purchases home in Waitrose bags?

frjustin said...

The American Surgeon General has made "social distance" into a verbal phrase. He is quoted as saying "We can social distance".

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one to object to this neologism? It should surely be "panicbought!