More on "truthiness" and "faction"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed Feb 1 22:29:31 UTC 2006

In Clarence Page's "truthiness" column on Jan. 18, he also mentioned
"faction", supposedly coined by Alex Haley:

A similar reaction has protected the late Alex Haley's Pulitzer
Prize-winning "Roots," an admittedly fact-based-but-fictionalized
account of his family's history. "Roots" became a runaway success as a
book and one of the most-watched made-for-TV movies of all time. Its
popularity has survived 30 years, despite Haley being sued for
plagiarism (he settled two suits out of court) and accused of making
up large passages.
When challenged, Haley called his work "faction," a blend of fact and
fiction in an effort to give his people some myths to live by.

Now here's more from the Washington Times:

'Faction' shreds truth into a million little pieces
By Adrienne Washington
January 31, 2006
Memory is a tricky thing. Truth is not.Ask Oprah. Ask Doubleday. Don't
ask James "Faction" Frey. I've been having a hard time wrapping my
brain around the concepts of "emotional truth," "truthiness," "altered
details" and "faction," all terms (some concocted) spawned by the
embarrassing publishing scandal involving the selection of truth
slayer James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces" for Oprah Winfrey's book

And one more "truthiness" column from the same paper:

The triumph of 'truthiness'
By Suzanne Fields
January 30, 2006
With a rewrite of "1984" George Orwell might transform his Ministry of
Truth, which controlled the news about everything, into the Ministry
of Truthiness. Truthiness is far more powerful than mere truth.
Orwell's Ministry of Truth grew out of his disenchantment with
communism, his "God that failed." But truth was mere conspiracy;
truthiness is consensus.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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