Thursday, October 16, 2008

I get on my soapbox

The 24-hour news cycle is weird. I think we all know that by now. Pundits who really have little business analyzing debates parse language and try, try, try to spin things.

But what's really bugging me right now is the pejorative use of the word "professorial." Obama supporting pundits tend to describe his demeanor as calm and unflappable, intellectual even. McCain supporting pundits tend to describe Obama's demeanor as professorial.

According to, the word simply is a descriptor for the type of work that I do. Off the top of my head, I can't think of another word to describe a profession that gets used in such a negative manner (though I'm sure they're there).

I think it bothers me because it's the wrong word to use. The commentators who use it really want to pick a clearer descriptor. Perhaps they mean "pedantic" or "stodgy." But those are not (or at least should not be) synonyms for professorial. Precise use of language is important -- especially as these pundits talk about parsing the candidates' language.

I guess I'm confused by this, since one of the complaints about Obama is that he whips up his supporters into a blind fervor. Stodgy pedants don't tend to do that. I really wish people would make up their minds. And work on their vocabulary skills. (By, you know, reading things.)

But I guess that's pedantic and stodgy on my part.

Oh well. I'll get off the soapbox now.


frau sally benz said...

I think they misuse the language on purpose. They can pretend that it comes across as a compliment or at least neutral, but they mean it as an insult. I have no idea WHY it's an insult, but I'm sure it has much to do with their "intelligence is elitism and we hate the elite" deal.

Emily said...

It just makes me grumpy ... but then again, just about anything makes me grumpy right now ...

Bradley said...

It seems to me that the rabid, Palin-lovin' base probably doesn't know what the word "pedantic" means (also, they seem confused about what a "terrorist" is, judging by the yelling at rallies). But they know they hated their college professors, the people who made them read even though there was so much better stuff to do in college. I mean, professors are the types of people who tell you that your opinion that Barack Obama is an Arab is wrong somehow. And how can it be wrong, so long as you say it, "In my opinion, Barack Obama is an Arab"? Opinions don't have to have any relationship with the real world! That's why they're opinions. Therefore, any paper I write should, in my opinion, get an A.

Okay. Back to comp papers for me...

I'm grumpy too. We live at Stately Grump Manor.