[Ads-l] from today's NYTimes

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Thu Nov 19 00:24:11 UTC 2015

I think there are two possibilities.

(1) "Unsavory" and "insipid are being equated.  "Unsavory" 1.a. = "a. Having no savour; not attractive to the taste; tasteless, insipid. 

However, since this is marked "Obs.", the other possibility -- which is my own impression -- is "unsavory" = bad-tasting and "insipid" = having no flavor.  

"Unsavory" 2.a. = "Unpleasant or disagreeable to the taste"; and 

"Insipid" 2. fig. Wanting the qualities which excite interest or emotion; uninteresting, lifeless, dull, flat.


From: Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 3:31 PM
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] from today's NYTimes

> On Nov 18, 2015, at 2:45 PM, George Thompson <george.thompson at nyu.edu> wrote:
> "[Charlie Sheen] said that during the period he “dazedly chose (or hired)
> the companionship of unsavory and insipid types.”"
> A review of a bad restaurant might say: the food here is either unsavory or
> insipid.  But I suppose Sheen is offering these qualities as parallel, not
> oppositional.  What are insipid companions that make it bad judgment to
> associate with them, as much as with unsavory companions?''

Wonder if "insipid" is changing for some speakers to become more pejorative.  Of course, insipid food is pretty unsavory, so perhaps it's "unsavory" that has become bleached for Sheen's tasteless companions rather than "insipid" becoming worse, but I doubt it.

> [from a book review]  Ms. Beard’s prose is never mandarin, yet she treats
> her readers like peers.
> "yet"?  Surely "and"?.  Mandarin (highfalutin, stilted) prose keeps we poor
> readers at an awe-struck distance; her prose lets us feel at ease.

Maybe she treats her readers like highfalutin peers of the realm (OED 4a: 'A member of a rank of hereditary nobility in Britain or Ireland; a duke, marquess, earl, viscount, or baron' or OED 3: 'A person of high rank in a country, state, or organization; a noble. In later use freq. contrasted with peasant. Also fig.') rather than treating them as *her* peers (OED 1a: 'A person of the same civil or ecclesiastical status or rank as the person in question; an equal before the law. Freq. with possessive adjective and in pl.')


> -- 
> George A. Thompson
> The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
> Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
> Univ. Pr., 1998..
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=AwIFaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=96w7JSnDgREqn3WhAjeGbgmMRgBAz3IVTAHncnEvVBw&s=Sx-Aacv5UXv5nSCAuelvBvdwt1_KR9UDKOKF57oq8-g&e= 

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