malaprop amongst the flowers

Mark A. Mandel mamandel at LDC.UPENN.EDU
Mon May 3 16:48:55 UTC 2004

A local jazz disk jockey continually uses the word "arcane" when he
means "archaic".  His special interest -- obsession, more correctly --
is the jazz styles through the bebop movement, and their discography,
band personnel, &c.  I have heard him give the telephone numbers of a
Harlem club that closed in 1937.  But to the point: he will say of,
perhaps, the C-melody saxophone, "it was already arcane when this
musician first started to play it".  I suppose he could justify this if
he claims that "arcane" means "little known"?

We are wandering into the morass of prescriptivism here, of course.
What would the White Queen say?

So what? The guy's wrong.  Tell him so, politely, of course.

-- Mark A. Mandel, stickler, fussbudget, prescriptivist, and maniac for
clear communication

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