'Pushing Back'

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Mon Jul 21 11:35:52 UTC 2008

It's a different idiom, but back in the 1970s college administrators often spoke of "pushing back the frontiers of knowledge." Which always seemed backwards; shouldn't the academic mission be to push FORWARD those frontiers?

I just Googled "push back the frontiers"--and the first hit (of 26,100) shows "push back the frontiers of IGNORANCE"!


---- Original message ----
>Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2008 06:49:48 -0400
>From: Doug Harris <cats22 at FRONTIERNET.NET>
>Subject: Re: 'Pushing Back'
>I'm sure some of you have noticed the new catch-phrase "pushing back" and variations on same. I never cease to be amazed how quickly this type of thing (think 'paradigm') move into then out of favor. 'Could be described, I'd imagine, as 'evolving language usage on steroids.'
>One 'pushing back' example, from today's LA Times headlines e-mail:

>A battle over 'the next war'

>By Julian E. Barnes and Peter Spiegel

>Many military officers are pushing back against Defense Secretary Gates' focus on preparing for more 'asymmetric' fighting rather than for a large, conventional conflict.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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