from "blood libel" to "pogrom"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Jan 15 03:02:56 UTC 2011

At 9:51 PM -0500 1/14/11, Wilson Gray wrote:
>On Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 5:43 PM, Victor Steinbok
><aardvark66 at> quoted:
>>  pogrom
>Clearly, this person has not the least idea of what a "pogrom" is - or
>should that be, ... of what is a "pogrom"?. Well, that's not very
>surprising, given that the one-volume edition of the Bol'shoi
>russko-angliiskii slovar' / Comprehensive Russian-English Dictionary
>gives the the meaning of _pogrom_ as "pogrom." I.e., there is really
>no way of translating the horror contained in those two syllables into
>Of course, from now on, every time that some right-winger has his
>feelings hurt, it'll be described as the consequence of a "pogrom."
>It's almost enough to make you appreciate why The One True Faith
>labored to keep the Bible out of the hands of the polloi for a
>millennium and a half. That is to say, a person really ought to have
>some idea of what a "pogrom" is before using the word to describe a
>triviality. The writer would, no doubt, use "beheading" to describe a
>cutting remark. :-(
If GWB and Obama can variously be seen as the new Hitler (by
different seers, to be sure), then this isn't too surprising, given
the usual semantic bleaching effects, although it is discouraging.
Who was it who used to complain about "defining deviancy down"?  So
now it's "blood libel" and "pogrom" being defined down.   :-( indeed.


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