[DWJ] sawcy pedantique wretch (was Naming a cat AND Where are we from?)

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Thu Apr 19 10:19:02 EDT 2007


>Minnow wrote:
>> Euthanise is euphemism.  "Kill" is the word we need here.  (Even if the
>> verb existed, which I'm not sure it does, it's just an attempt to avoid
>> using nasty words like kill.  In any case, "euthanasia" means "humane
>> killing".  What, me, a pedant?  Never!)

Mark came back:

>You are correct; "euthanise" is not a word.  At least, my spell-checker
>doesn't like it.  However, it is a coined term which will likely be
>added to dictionaries soon enough, as it is in common usage.  It is not
>a euphemism.  It has a precise meaning:  To kindly kill, the killing
>being in the best interest of that which is being killed.  [1]

Ah.  So a word that means "kill" but doesn't have the shock-effect "kill"
would have isn't a euphemism?  I would say that a more acceptable word
covering for a blunt one would be precisely what a euphemism is.  Or as
Collins has it: "an inoffensive word or phrase substituted for one
considered offensive or hurtful, esp. one concerned with religion, sex,
death or excreta".  I note that "excreta" there is correct rather than
euphemistic: one of the examples they give is "relieve oneself for
urinate".  :-)

My other niddle of course was that you were saying "kindly to euthanise",
ie "humanely to kill humanely", which was a redundancy.  :-))

>I would gladly be a pedant, if it weren't for the fact that I routinely
>abuse the language, connecting clauses with commas being my chief
>offense.  I enjoy a good run-on sentence, and can serial-comma with the
>best of them.

Oh, but there's nothing to stop you being a pedant AND abusing the
language!  Lots of people do it, especially in newspaper columns.  One can
be a pedant about *anything*, not just language.  Surely you could
specialise in being pedantic about, oh, I don't know, computers or exactly
what sort of fruit-fly was involved in experiments or something like that?

>--Mark A., hoping to go back to lurking soon (or more properly, skulking
>around)

Nothing quite like a good skulk on a fine afternoon, that's what I say.

And as a result of looking up "skulk" I discover that the 1933 SOD
recognises the words "skive" and "skiver", but defines them exclusively as
having to do with paring very fine bits off leather.  Thanks, Mark!  I
would probably never have known where that came from if not for you.  Nor
indeed that a skug is a squirrel (doesn't say whether red or grey, though).

>[1] Ask me about the word "gender".  No, not really, don't.  But
>consider also the word "sex", and ponder.

When the law was passed making it illegal to be biased against someone on
the grounds of their race, colour, or creed, it was called the Race
Relations Act.  I still think that the one about not being mean to someone
on account of their being male or female ought to have been called the Sex
Relations Act, but for some reason or other they chickened out and called
it something else.

I never heard anyone establishing whether a kitten/puppy/goldfish is male
or female say they are "gendering" the little creature; they always say
they are "sexing" it.  What about the great apes and creatures like
dolphins and whales -- are those of one or other gender, or are they of one
or other sex, in common parlance?  Has anyone happened to notice?  Can it
be that the mealy-mouthery of saying "gender" instead of "sex" applies only
when distinguishing between the male and the female of the human species?

Minnow





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