[Ads-l] WOTY: "fake news"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 8 13:23:36 EST 2016

Thanks for your suggestion, Pat. "Fake News" is thematically related
to "truthiness" which was voted 2005 word of the year at the American
Dialect Society meeting. Another related term is "post-truth", and
Colbert reacted humorously when it was recently highlighted by Oxford

Article: Stephen Colbert thinks 'post-truth' is a ripoff of 'truthiness'
Author: Christian Holub
Date: November 18, 2016

[Begin excerpt]
Oxford Dictionaries recently announced that they chose "post-truth" as
their word of the year for 2016. . . . Stephen Colbert has a few
problems with this choice, though, and not just because "post-truth"
is actually two words.

"Post-truth is clearly just a rip-off of my 2006 word of the year,
'truthiness,'" Colbert said.

He reiterated the definition: "The belief in what you feel to be true,
rather than what the facts will support," which is definitely
perilously close to Oxford Dictionaries’ definition of "post-truth."
Colbert tried to act gracious, though, and imitated an award-show
nominee cheering for their rival from the crowd.
[End excerpt]

Perhaps "fake news" might be viewed as an extremal version of "truthiness".

In 1807 Thomas Jefferson penned a scalding letter about his
unhappiness with misinformation in newspapers:

[Begin excerpt]
Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself
becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real
extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are
in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies
of the day
[End excerpt]

Jefferson provocatively suggested the advantages of not reading the newspaper:

[Begin excerpt]
I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better
informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is
nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors.
He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details
are all false.
[End excerpt]

A citation for the Jefferson letter is included in the QI entry about
a popular Twain misquotation:

If You Don’t Read the Newspaper You Are Uninformed, If You Do Read the
Newspaper You Are Misinformed


On Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 10:01 AM, Mailbox <mailbox at grammarphobia.com> wrote:
> Perhaps "fake news" should go into the hopper. It may have swung the election.
> The durability of the fake news phenomenon was brought home to my husband and me yesterday. I had gotten an insistent message (yet again) from a reader of our blog about the origin of "the whole nine yards," demanding (more or less) that we acknowledge the WWII machine-gun ammunition belt explanation.
> We replied at length by email, recapping the recent 19th-century findings and providing a history of the development of the belt-fed machine gun. All demonstrating of course, that the theory was impossible.
> He shot back a reply within a minute: "You are really full of shit."
> People who believe etymological folklore cling to it as tenaciously as do those who subscribe to fake news.
> Pat O'Conner (http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog <http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog>)
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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