another -gate

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Aug 8 20:14:40 UTC 2010

At 2:10 PM -0500 8/8/10, Dan Goodman wrote:
>Laurence Horn wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>>Subject:      Re: another -gate
>>At 2:39 AM -0400 8/8/10, Victor Steinbok wrote:
>>>  The scandal generating suffix appears to have left the political arena
>>>a long time ago and is now attached to any tree falling in a forest,
>>>irrespectively of whether it makes a sound. Here's the latest: antennagate.
>>>Apple exec leaves in wake of 'antennagate'
>>>If you've been paying attention, you know that the newly minted iPhone 4
>>>has had a spate of problems with reception and dropped calls that have
>>>been linked to an innovative antenna design that backfired. This is the
>>>first time I've seen it referred to as "antennagate", but, I suspect,
>>>not the last.
>>What I find particularly unfortunate, although perhaps inevitable, is
>>not so much the broadening of "-gate" to non-political scandals +
>>cover-ups.  That boat has long since sailed.  But I've always taken
>>the "-gate"s to involve a cover-up, typically illustrating the lesson
>>we supposedly learned with Watergate (and Contragate, and Pearly-gate
>>[one of my personal faves], and Underwater-gate, and Nannygate and
>>Travelgate, and Koreagate...), that it's not the original offense
>>that brings you down, it's the cover-up.  But no such scandal or
>>cover-up seems to be involved here, just an error and the
>>consequences:  Mr. Papermaster designed an antenna that didn't work,
>>he was fired.  So if Derek Jeter boots a ground ball leading to a
>>Yankee loss, will the back page blare out "JETERGATE"?  SOTA alert!
>As I understand it, Apple spent some time and energy saying there wasn't
>really a problem.
Ah, OK, then--sort of.  But did they spend time and energy attempting
to deliberately conceal the problem that they knew existed?  For me,
that would be the threshold for making it over the -gate.


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