May 29, 2012 | 4 Comments
At times, I am too much of a stickler for the established rules of the English language. I understand that language evolves, but when it does so stupidly, I tend to resist. I’m working on this.
Anyhoo, as much as I’m trying to embrace new and shiny uses of the language, it would help if we could try not to totally obscure the meanings of words in such a way that clarity is lost. A few recent examples from the news:
1. Austerity: Okay, fine, some people don’t like any budget cuts whatsoever, but is it really helpful to suggest that any rollbacks against the ever-bloated federal budget are “austerity” measures. The Tories have brought the budget back in line with the pre-Economic Action Plan! days – you know, back when they were killing Chretien’s surplus at a moderate rather than accelerated pace. Yes, terminating 12 000 public service jobs is going to hurt people (the other 7 200 cuts are coming through attrition), but there are healthy severance packages and in some departments up to 18 months notice being given. This ain’t Greece.
2. Nanny State: Though I am quite pleased that the NDP is finally waking up to the distastefulness of a nanny state, arguing that cutting EI is a nanny state move is pretty incoherent. Well, at least they didn’t say ‘austerity’, I guess.
3. Evangelical vs. evangelical: The capital ‘E’ is important here (sort of like Conservative vs. conservative, Liberal vs. liberal, Gleek vs. gleek… ok, I made that last one up). Many (most?) Christian churches are evangelical. It means to spread the good news (though it needn’t be proselytizing). However, Evangelical churches are a particular strain of Christianity, generally associated with U.S. mega-churches like Mars Hill (though I don’t usually hear Canadian churches adopt the moniker). Talking about evangelical Christians when you mean Evangelical Christians isn’t a huge deal, but it is wrong, and it leads me to believe you don’t have a firm grasp on the topic at hand. I could also bring up Catholic vs. catholic, but I think that ship has sailed.