TV Journalists Conned by Language Prank !

Mullins, Bill Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL
Thu Aug 25 14:34:45 UTC 2005

We should check with the One True authority -- Howard Stern.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society
> [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Jonathan Lighter
> Sent: Thursday, August 25, 2005 9:24 AM
> Subject: TV Journalists Conned by Language Prank !
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
> Subject:      TV Journalists Conned by Language Prank !
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> -----------------
> New York.--Aug. 25 (Special to ADS-L)  Flash !  A bizarre
> incident involving Fox News anchor E. D. Hill today fueled
> doubts about TV journalists' ability to judge the truth of
> elementary statements about language.
> The unusual incident began early today when Hill, veteran
> co-anchor of Fox News Channel's morning show "Fox & Friends,"
> called attention to a published British study claiming to
> show that men's IQ's are five points higher than women's, on average.
> After questioning the objectivity of the report, because it
> written by male researchers, Hill pointed out the article's
> subhead stating that men may be "cleverer" than women.
> "_Cleverer_ ?" Hill asked the camera in a tone described
> alternatively as "bemused" or "indignant."   "_Cleverer_ ?
> _Cleverer_ is not a word."  Observers believe she intended to
> cast doubt on the competence of researchers who would write
> "cleverer."
> Later, however, Hill stated on air that a colleague had
> looked up "cleverer" at Dictionariesonline and discovered
> that "cleverer" actually was "a word."  Hill admitted that
> her assertion that it was not a word was in error. It is
> widely believed that Hill's admission of error in a comment
> on language is the first in journalistic history.
> But in a surprising twist that left linguists in the viewing
> audience reeling, minutes before the show ended, Hill laughed
> as she said, "We've received an email from a viewer [name
> unintelligible] who has a _doctorate_, and she writes as
> follows :  " 'Cleverer' is not a word.  It is not a verb and
> cannot be declined or inflected.' "  Hill concluded, "So I
> was right all along ! It's not a word ! "
> In a telephone interview with himself, Dr. J. E. Lighter, a
> lexicographer and contributor to the Oxford English
> Dictionary, commented,  "What is most troubling in this case
> is the show's readiness to accept the gibberish word of an
> essentially anonymous member of the public over the evidence
> of a dictionary compiled by professionals.  This would seem
> to violate a basic principle of journalism."
> We declined to reach Hill for comment.
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