from "blood libel" to "pogrom"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jan 15 04:42:38 UTC 2011

Now, now. There you go again!  Was the "war" on poverty really a war? Of
course not! When America's young people say the latest musical bebop number
or something is "killer!" do they mean it really kills?  No again!

So obviously any mean criticism of a political position is just as much a
"blood libel" or a "pogrom" or "genocide" (good one!) as anything else.

As St. Humpty might have said to Alice: "Prove me wrong, O ye


On Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 10:02 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at>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: from "blood libel" to "pogrom"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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
> >English.
> >
> >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.
> LH
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