Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Sun Apr 12 17:27:37 UTC 2009

Yes, the AP in particular seems to have gotten sloppy with their usage. (Maybe they could actually get advertising revenue and not have to restrict their content if they improved the quality of their reporting. Here's an idea: hire reporters and editors who know what they're writing about instead of hacks out of journalism school.)

Today, Reuters made the mistake, referring to US warships off Somalia as "battleships" (

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at>
Sent: Sunday, April 12, 2009 8:13 AM
Subject: battleship

Is it my imagination or has the press taken to referring to any naval fighting ship larger than a patrol boat as a "battleship"?

Early press reports on the North Korean missile launch stated that the US Navy had sent two battleships to the area.  Later reports clarified this to read the *destroyers* Bainbridge and McCain (the latter, I believe, named after the Senator’s grandfather).  Similarly, another press report referred to Vietnam sending a battleship to some point in the South China Sea, which if true means a major change in the balance of power in East Asia.

OT: a pun is the *meaningful* substitution of one similar-sounding word or phrase for another, as in "he married two women just to break the monogamy".  A malaprop is the substitution of a non-meaningful similar-sounding word or phrase, as in "an allegation by the banks of the Nile".  "Allegation" gets its humor from the surprise and incongruity of the word, but there is nothing meaningful between allegation and alligator, unless the teller has built up a situation in which someone charges someone else with stealing an animal from a zoo on the Nile River.

OT for Wilson Gray:  from

I will never stage Macbeth entirely in freestyle rap.

Failing this, I will absolutely not have the first act staged normally and the second act in rap -- the contrast will be immediately obvious and the "out damn spot" scene does not work when Lady Macbeth is clearly sane enouugh to talk in perfect rhythm, if not sane enough to turn down the part.

Failing both of the above I will at least not attempt this with a class of middle-school, middle-class, white Jewish students who wouldn't know rap if it bit them on the ass and who have only fourteen days of rehearsal time. Total.

           James A. Landau
           test engineer
           Northrop-Grumman Information Technology
           8025 Black Horse Pike, Suite 300
           West Atlantic City NJ 08232 USA

Netscape.  Just the Net You Need.

The American Dialect Society -

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