A couple of years ago, pedantic grammar nerds got their knickers entirely knotted when the Oxford English Dictionary bowed to the times and adjusted it's definition of the word literally to mean both the literal and figurative at the same time.
I'm not saying I wasn't one of that crowd, but I will say I untangled my knickers, put on my big girl panties and have moved on, at least where other people's usage are concerned. (I'm still punctilious about my own). But I have other hills where I will continue rolling my Sisyphean rock up all the way to the top.
Sure, I'll accept the word "oleophobic" to describe the screen of my iPad. As long as you interpret that word as meaning that it's afraid of missing anyone or anything that might put a fingerprint on it within a 15 meter radius. It doesn't just collect them; it seems to manufacture them to it's own fiendish specifications. Though I do have to say I enjoy looking at other people's screens when I'm out and about and trying to deduce what application they were last using by the pattern of smudges and streaks.
However, that's not the actual meaning of the word. It's defined as a substance that repels oil. It's supposed to stop the screen from collecting skin oils from your fingers.
I know it's a bit of technical bafflegab put into service by a marketing department, and it's more than half wishful thinking by the engineers who put the coating on. People's fingerprints are made of more than skin-oils and those other things will happily stick. It also wears out over time and becomes less effective. It doesn't stop me from grumbling a little to myself when I have to clean the thing every 12 seconds.
That's just one instance where today's language splats up against the old-school. Linguistic morphology and usage is a fascinating thing. Even without the help of market forces, the way people use words shifts over time in every language. And different people use the same words differently which adds even more chaff to the air. To quote Huey Lewis, "Sometimes bad is bad."
The question becomes what do you do about it? Do you shift the language to match like the OED did? Or do you build some sort of formal standard and try to rein it in? Both approaches are out in the wild today, and both have mixed results.
English, the amorphous amoeba that sucks in anything in reach of it's vacuoles, is one one side. This is great for responsiveness, especially as fast as the world is changing these days. But the overhead in misunderstandings and inaccuracies is considerable. And the older set is always having to relearn, with much grumbling.
Strongly regulated languages like French on the other. The tension between what is considered "real" French and the slang usages people come up with trying to shoe-horn new concepts into old linguistic boots is considerable, and is felt all through their society when the Academie Francaise steps in to stop the what they see as the creep of Anglicanization.
Luckily, since I'm working for the most part in informal prose in one of the most loosey-goosey languages, I have some room to work. Playing with the rules a bit is part and parcel of the trade. But I still go a few rounds with my editor every time I submit an article draft, mostly about the fiddlier bits of punctuation. The current APA styleguide be damned, I still have a hard time putting punctuation inside quotations. I feel like Ms. Martin is going to pop up behind me and bap me upside the head every time I do it. But I have my editor after me if I don't do it. And since it's their ball and bat at that venue, I play the game their way.
I got Cyril the Accidental Canary a nest basket. I'd done some reading and it turns out that the males are responsible for a lot of the nest-building behavior for canaries. It's sort of proof they can provide well for a mate.
Well, he hasn't got a mate, and isn't going to, but from what they said it wasn't good for them to keep them from having that sort of outlet, so I got him one and hung it on the side of the cage.
He certainly likes it. He's been hopping in and out of it, industriously lining it with his own feathers and bits of cotton string and toilet paper I provided along with it, happy as a clam.
Well, the election results have me sitting, shaking my head. I have been struggling with this all evening, and I guess the thought I'm going to take to bed is this.
Some people are comforting themselves by thinking of the parts of this that are still undone, and the various ways to fight the results, hoping to somehow wake up from this bad dream. Even if it works and by some miracle the results are changed, that's not the point here. The fact that it was even close is the actual issue.
I wish I was surprised. I wish I hadn't spent my career and my life seeing and fighting against the kinds of personal actions and attitudes that add up to numbers like this. I wish I could see this as anything more than a crushing blow.
I hope this is a wake-up call. That those who minimized and marginalized these actions and attitudes will finally see that this is the reality out there. These things really happen, all the time, to a lot of people. And I hope they finally come to the the conclusion that, damn it, we all need to do something about it.
This country fought it's way back from McCarthy. We fought our way through the Civil Rights years. It's not irreparable. Not if we get off our duffs and get to work.
And for now, I'm going to go to bed, cuddle my dog, and try to get ready to face tomorrow morning.