[Ads-l] annals of acronymic etymythology

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Thu Aug 2 11:58:46 EDT 2018

Zeitgeist related, from Scientific American:

"U.S. President Donald Trump will nominate meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier as his government’s top scientist. If confirmed by the Senate, Droegemeier would lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Trump, who took office 19 months ago, has gone longer without a top science adviser<https://www.nature.com/news/wait-for-trump-s-science-adviser-breaks-modern-era-record-1.22878> than any first-term president since at least 1976....."

Good luck Mr. Droegemeier!

Stephen Goranson

From: American Dialect Society <...> on behalf of Ben Zimmer <...>
Sent: Thursday, August 2, 2018 11:23 AM
To: ...
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] annals of acronymic etymythology

In a related vein, see Kory Stamper's blog post in which a reader is
dissatisfied with "gorp" being listed as "origin unknown" when it's
*obviously* an acronym...


Answers I Wish I Could Send: Etymology Edition<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__korystamper.wordpress.com_2014_12_19_answers-2Di-2Dwish-2Di-2Dcould-2Dsend-2Detymology-2Dedition_&d=DwIBaQ&c=imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6YHLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=uUVa-8oDL2EzfbuMuowoUadHHcJ7pjul6iFkS5Pd--8&m=ylx89WS0rxhE9_AMWkQSdwKMPelvkR73pR6hZDaut4A&s=RPs2h23lJt1PoIqwV29YXrerR0hcdeJc3Nn43fasW80&e=>
[Ed. note: one in a series.  Emails are only lightly edited for–if you can believe it–clarity.] Your online dictionary defines “peak” as “a pointed or projecting part …

On Thu, Aug 2, 2018 at 11:16 AM, Jesse Sheidlower <...> wrote:

> As Larry and Ben say elsethread, the use of dictionaries has not declined
> for this purpose. However, I don't think this matters anyway: people
> generally dismiss what dictionaries say when they look up entries like
> this. If the etymology is given as "unknown" or something less interesting
> than the purported acronymic origin (which is pretty much a given), people
> will assume that the dictionary is either wrong or ignorant. This is
> similar to usage issues: whatever authority the person decides to accept,
> whether their grade-school teacher or some guy on the Internet, is given
> more weight than the dictionary.
> Jesse Sheidlower
> On Thu, Aug 02, 2018 at 02:42:31PM +0000, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
> > Here's an interesting question:  Etymythology has been a very strong
> phenomenon for centuries.  Even etymological scholars have long been
> attracted to colorful, unfounded etymological theories.  But now, in a
> society where right-wing media and even the President of the United States
> are mounting an enormous assault on concepts of education, science,
> accuracy, truth, etc., is etymythology growing in popularity?  I am not
> asserting that it is growing in popularity, but it seems logical that it
> would in the aforementioned environment.  Another factor that might
> contribute to such growth is the decline in use of dictionaries.
> >
> > Fred Shapiro

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

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