James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Sat Nov 17 03:28:12 UTC 2012

The debate I was in over this, by the way, was with @guardianstyle, who tweeted that factoid was only ever to be used in its original Mailer sense. I objected that their readers would be unlikely to understand it in this sense and that the meaning had shifted. @guardianstyle did not think it reasonable to accept a shift in less than 40 years, the loss of a word (I don't agree that it's a loss!), and all because some people are lazy. I said it wasn't that they were lazy; they had no reason to suspect that there was another, more original sense than the one they were used to. I contended (in twitterese) that party-trick etymology trumps were not a suitable basis for editorial prescriptions... Gloves were doffed, etc.

But the impression I'm getting through all this discussion is that its definition is not well enough agreed-on to use in a newspaper one way or the other.

So thanks, all, for the discussion!

James Harbeck

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list