Harper's Magazine April, 2001 - Jennifer K. Lobasz

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Harper's Magazine: Tense Present.1 of 36http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/DFW present tense.htmlHarper's MagazineApril, 2001Tense PresentDemocracy, English, and the Wars over UsageAuthor: David Foster WallaceDiscussed in this essay:A Dictionary of Modern American Usage, by Bryan A. Garner. OxfordUniversity Press, 1998. 723 pages. 35.A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, by H. W. Fowler. Oxford UniversityPress, 1926. Rev. by Sir Ernest Gowers, 1965. 725 pages.The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language, by StevenPinker. William Morrow and Company, 1994. 494 pages.Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, E. W. Gilman, ed. MerriamWebster Inc., 1989. 978 pages.Usage and Abusage: A Guide to Good English, by Eric Partridge. HamishHamilton, 1957.392 pages.Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language,Philip Gore, ed. G. & C. Merriam Company, 1961. 2,662 pages.Dilige et quod vis fac.— ST. AUGUSTINE"Save up to 50% — (and More)!" Between you and I. On accident.Somewhat of a. Kustom Kar Kare Autowash. "The cause was due tonumerous factors." "Orange Crush — A Taste That's All It's Own.""Vigorex: Helping men conquer sexual issues." "Equal numbers of bothmen and women oppose the amendment." Feedback. "As drinking waterbecomes more and more in short supply." "IMATION — Borne of 3MInnovation." Point in time. Time frame. "At this point in time, theindividual in question was observed, and subsequently apprehended byauthorities." Here for you, there for you. "Fail to comply with" for"violate". Comprised of. From whence. Quote for quotation. Nauseous fornauseated. Besides the point. To mentor, to parent. To partner. Tocritique. "Indicated" for "said". "Parameters" for "limits" and "options" for9/23/2010 7:13 PM

Harper's Magazine: Tense Present.2 of 36http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/DFW present tense.html"choices" and "viable options" for "options" and "workable solution" for"solution". In point of fact. Prior to this time. AS of this point in the timeframe. Serves to. Tends to be. "Convince" for "persuade". Append forattach, portion for part. Commence, cease. Expedite. Request for ask.Eventuate for happen. Subsequent to this time. Productive. Facilitate. Aidin. Utilize. Detrimental. Equates with. In regards to. Tragic, tragedy.Grow as transitive. Keep for stay. "To demonstrate the power of Epson'snew Stylus Color Inkjet Printer with 1440 d.p.i., just listen:" Could careless. Issues, core issues, fellow colleagues. Goal-orientated. Resources.Unproductive. Feelings. Share tar speak. Nurture, empower, recover.Valid for true. Authentic. Productive, unproductive. "I choose to view myopponent's negative attacks as unproductive to the real issues facing thecitizens of this campaign." Incumbent upon. Mandate. Plurality. Perannum. Conjunctive adverbs in general. Instantaneous. Quality asadjective. Proactive. Proactive Mission-Statement. Positive feedback. Apositive role-model. Compensation. Validation. As for example. True factsare often impactful. "Call now for your free gift!" I only wish. Not toogood of a. Pay the consequences of. At this juncture. "Third-leading causeof death of both American men and women." To reference. To process.Process. The process of. The healing process. The grieving process."Processing of feelings is a major component of the grieving process."Commensurant. "Till the stars fall from the sky/For you and I." Workingtogether. Efficacious, effectual. Lifestyle. This phenomena, thesecriterion. Irregardless. If for whether. "Both sides are working together toachieve a workable consensus." Functional, dysfunctional. Family oforigin. S.O. To nest. Relationship. Merge together. KEEP IN LANE.Whomever wants it. "My wife and myself wish to express our gratitudeand thanks to you for being here to support us at this difficult time in ourlife." Eventuate. Diversity. Quality time. Values, family values. Toconference. "French provincial twin bed with canape and box spring, 150." Take a wait-and-see attitude. Cum-N-Go Quik Mart. Travelodge.Self-confessed. Precise estimate. "Travel-times on the expressways arereflective of its still being bad out there." Budgetel. EZPAY. RENT2OWN.MENS' ROOM. LADY'S ROOM. Individual for person. Whom for who, thatfor who. "The accident equated to a lot of damage." Ipse dixie. Falderol." Waiting on' is a dialectical locution on the rise and splitting itsmeaning." Staunch the flow. A.M. in the morning. . Advisement. Mostespecially. Sum total. Final totals. Complete dearth. "You can donate yourused car or truck in any condition." "DiBlasi's work shows how sex canbring people together and pull them apart." "Come in and take advantageof our knowledgeable staff." "We get the job done, not make excuses.""Chances of rain are prevalent." National Highway Traffic SafetyAdministration Rule and Regulation Amendment Task Force. Further forfarther. "The Fred Pryor Seminar has opened my eyes to better timemanagement techniques. Also it has given real life situations and how todeal with them effectively." Hands-on, can-do. "Each of the variantsindicated in boldface type count as an entry." Visualization. "Insert andtighten metric calibrated hexscrews (K) into arc (G) comprised ofintersecting vertical pieces (A) along transverse section of Structure. (seeDiagram for #(3-4 inv.)" Creative, creativity. To message, to send amessage, to bring our message to. To reach out to. Context.Straightlaced. A factor, a decisive factor. Myriads of decisive factors. "It isa federal requirement to comply with all safety regulations on this flight."In this context, of this context. On a — ly basis. From the standpoint of.Contextualization. Within the parameters of this context.Decontextualization. Defamiliarize. Orientated. "The artist's employmentof a radical visual idiom serves to decontextualize both conventional9/23/2010 7:13 PM

Harper's Magazine: Tense Present.3 of 36http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/DFW present tense.htmlmodes of representation and the patriarchal contexts on which suchtraditional hegemonic notions as representation, tradition, and evenconventional contextualization have come to be seen as depending fortheir privileged status as aestheto-interpretive mechanisms." I don't feelwell and hope I recoup. "As parents, the responsibility of talking to yourkids about drugs is up to you." Who would of thought? Last and final call.AS to. Achieve. Achievement. Competitive. Challenge, challenged,challenges. Excellence. Pursuit of a standard of total excellence. Anastute observance. Misrepresent for lie. A longstanding tradition ofachievement in the arena of excellence. "All copier stores are not thesame." Visible to the eye. Which for that, I for me. That which. In regardsto. Data as singular, media as singular, graffiti as singular. Remain forstay. On-task. Escalate as transitive. Closure. Community. "Iran mustrealize that it cannot flaunt with impunity the expressed will and law ofthe world community." Community support. Community-based. Broadappeal. Rally support. Outpourings of support. "Tried to lay the cause atthe feet of Congress." Epidemic proportions. Proportionate response.Feasibility. "This anguishing national ordeal." Bipartisan, nonpartisan.Widespread outbreaks. To appeal to. To impact. Author's Foreward. Hewand cry. From this aspect. Hayday. Appropriate, inappropriate.Contingency. Contingent upon. Every possible contingency. Audible to theear. As for since. Palpably. "The enormity of his accomplishment." Frigidtemperatures. Loud volume. Surrounded on all sides, my workableoptions are at this time few in number. Chaise lounge, nucular,deep-seeded, bedroom suit, reek havoc. Her ten-year rein atop thecompetition. The reason is because she still continues to hue to the basicfundamentals. Ouster. Lucrative salaries, expensive prices. Forbear forforebear; forgo for forego. Breech of conduct. Award for meretriciousservice. Substantiate, unsubstantiated, substantial. Reelected to anotherterm. Fulsome praise. Service. Public service. "A tradition of servicingyour needs." A commitment to accountability in a lifetime of publicservice. AS best as we can. WAVE ALL INTEREST FOR 90 DAYS. "But Ialso want to have — be the president that protects the rights of, ofpeople to, to have arms. And that — so you don't go so far that thelegitimate rights on some legislation are, are, you know, impinged on.""Dr. Charles Frieses'." Conflict. Conflict-resolution. The mutual advantageof both sides in this widespread conflict. "We will make a determination interms of an appropriate response." Future plans. Don't go there. PLEASEWAIT HERE UNTIL NEXT AVAILABLE CLERK. I thought to myself. Fellowcountrymen. "Your efforts to recover from the experience of growing upin an alcoholic family may be very difficult and threatening for yourfamily to hear about and accept, especially if they are still in the midst oftheir own survival." Misappropriate for steal. Nortorious. I'll be theremomentarily. At some later point in time. I'm not adverse to that."Hello-o?" Have a good one. Luv Ya. :)Did you know that probing the seamy underbelly of U.S. lexicographyreveals ideological strife and controversy and intrigue and nastiness andfervor on a nearly hanging-chad scale? For instance, did you know thatsome modern dictionaries are notoriously liberal and others notoriouslyconservative, and that certain conservative dictionaries were actuallyconceived and designed as corrective responses to the "corruption" and"permissiveness" of certain liberal dictionaries? That the oligarchic deviceof having a special "Distinguished Usage Panel . of outstanding9/23/2010 7:13 PM

Harper's Magazine: Tense Present.4 of 36http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/DFW present tense.htmlprofessional speakers and writers" is an attempted compromise betweenthe forces of egalitarianism and traditionalism in English, but that mostlinguistic liberals dismiss the Usage Panel as mere sham-populism? Didyou know that U.S. lexicography even had a seamy underbelly?The occasion for this article is Oxford University Press's semi-recentrelease of Bryan A. Garner's A Dictionary of Modern American Usage. Thefact of the matter is that Garner's dictionary is extremely good, certainlythe most comprehensive usage guide since E. W. Gilman's Webster'sDictionary of English Usage, now a decade out of date.[1] Its format, likethat of Gilman and the handful of other great American usage guides ofthe last century, includes entries on individual words and phrases andexpostulative small-cap MINI-ESSAYS. on any issue broad enough towarrant more general discussion. But the really distinctive and ingeniousfeatures of A Dictionary of Modern American Usage involve issues ofrhetoric and ideology and style, and it is impossible to describe why theseissues are important and why Garner's management of them borders ongenius without talking about the historical contexts [2] in which ADMAUappears, and this context turns out to be a veritable hurricane ofcontroversies involving everything from technical linguistics to publiceducation to political ideology, and these controversies take a certainamount of time to unpack before their relation to what makes Garner'susage guide so eminently worth your hard-earned reference-book dollarcan even be established; and in fact there's no way even to begin thewhole harrowing polymeric discussion without taking a moment toestablish and define the highly colloquial term SNOOT.From one perspective, a certain irony attends the publication of any goodnew book on American usage. It is that the people who are going to beinterested in such a book are also the people who are least going to needit, i.e., that offering counsel on the finer points of U.S. English isPreaching to the Choir. The relevant Choir here comprises that smallpercentage of American citizens who actually care about the currentstatus of double modals and ergative verbs. The same sorts of people whowatched Story of English on PBS (twice) and read W. Safire's column withtheir half-caff every Sunday. The sorts of people who feel that specialblend of wincing despair and sneering superiority when they seeEXPRESS LANE — 10 ITEMS OR LESS or hear dialogue used as a verb orrealize that the founders of the Super 8 motel chain must surely havebeen ignorant of the meaning of suppurate. There are lots of epithets forpeople like this — Grammar Nazis, Usage Nerds, Syntax Snobs, theLanguage Police. The term I was raised with is SNOOT.[3] The wordmight be slightly self-mocking, but those other terms are outrightdysphemisms. A SNOOT can be defined as somebody who knows whatdysphemism means and doesn't mind letting you know it.I submit that we SNOOTs are just about the last remaining kind of trulyelitist nerd. There are, granted, plenty of nerd-species in today's America,and some of these are elitist within their own nerdy purview (e.g., theskinny, carbuncular, semi-autistic Computer Nerd moves instantly up onthe totem pole of status when your screen freezes and now you need hishelp, and the bland condescension with which he performs the two occultkeystrokes that unfreeze your screen is both elitist and situationallyvalid). But the SNOOT's purview is interhuman social life itself. You don't,after all (despite withering cultural pressure), have to use a computer,but you can't escape language: Language is everything and everywhere;it's what lets us have anything to do with one another; it's what9/23/2010 7:13 PM

Harper's Magazine: Tense Present.5 of 36http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/DFW present tense.htmlseparates us from the animals; Genesis 11:7-10 and so on. And weSNOOTS know when and how to hyphenate phrasal adjectives and tokeep participles from dangling, and we know that we know, and we knowhow very few other Americans know this stuff or even care, and we judgethem accordingly.In ways that certain of us are uncomfortable about, SNOOTs' attitudesabout contemporary usage resemble religious/poli