Banning Cassell's

David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Tue Jun 27 13:37:34 UTC 2006

From:    Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> On 6/26/06, Baker, John <JMB at> wrote:

>>         The Language Log post discusses an unsigned editorial in the
>> Guardian's Sunday Observer and a column by Joel Achenbach in the
>> Washington Post Sunday Magazine, both of which argued that taboo words
>> are precious commodities that lose their value when overused.  A
>> distinction between the two pieces, unremarked upon by Ben, is that the
>> Guardian appears to be entirely serious, while Achenbach is a humor
>> columnist.

> Achenbach's column is indeed rather tongue-in-cheek, but he's not a
> humorist in the style of, say, Dave Barry. His background is as a
> reporter, which explains why he actually did some legwork for the
> column (like calling up Jesse Sheidlower). And I think despite the
> lightness of his tone, his conclusions are meant to be taken as
> seriously as the Guardian's.

Actually, Joel Achenbach is an interesting columnist, since he does a
mix, i think--some of his stuff is clearly intended to be humorous, and
some of it is clearly intended to be serious, but a reader has to be
pretty tuned in to his style to figure out which is which (as opposed
to, say, Gene Weingarten, whose style is clearly different in his
serious and humorous pieces). Long-time reading of Achenbach helps, i
think--and based on what i've read of Achenbach, i think his Post
Magazine piece was inteded completely seriously.

David Bowie                               
     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.

The American Dialect Society -

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