Favorite

Words, Nov. 4 

Those witless wretches of wildlife:

Max Brantley has won this year's William Safire Memorial Award for his description of the state Game and Fish commissioners who schemed to evade the Freedom of Information law. When the Gang of Three surrendered, after being confronted by Gov. Mike Beebe, Brantley wrote:

"The issue is over and won't be revived, press is told. Sounds like [Game and Fish] lawyers will be thrown under the bus on this one, not the pampered pashas of privilege who dreamed this up."

"Rachael Leigh Cook's good looks helped make her a breakout teen star in the '90s, but she's railing on the media for its unhealthy expectations when it comes to appearances."

One rails at or against something, not on. A confused writer may have been thinking of wail on, an expression that is itself a product of confusion. The original, correct version is whale on. As a verb meaning "to strike or hit vigorously, to beat up," whale can be found in standard dictionaries. Wail cannot. Instead, wail as a verb means "to lament, to complain, to make a mournful cry." ("The Razorbacks whaled on the hapless Longhorns, sending the Texans home wailing.")

Yet I'm told that many of the younger set are using wail on. One contributor to an online usage forum says, "Both the Urban Dictionary and the Online Slang Dictionary list beating on someone as 'wail on,' and that's how I've seen it written (the few times I've seen it written)."

"Her license to shoot scenes in Sarajevo and the central town of Zenica in November was cancelled when the Women Victims of War (WVW) association complained after media reports the film would depict a love story between a Muslim victim and her Serb rapist." There's an inconsistency in identification here. The victim is designated by religion, the perpetrator by nationality. I suspect that's because Western news media don't like to refer to a "Christian rapist."

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Most Shared

Latest in Words

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

October

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Cotton to CIA?

    Political junkies without a real election to overanalyze fill the void with "what if?" scenarios. With the State Fair underway, consider this column a helping of cotton candy for such readers.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The casting couch

    • sigh............ I would argue that the idea of 'freedom from fear' is part of the…

    • on October 19, 2017
  • Re: Caution: government at work

    • As to the AR Chamber of Commerce-DO NOT FORGET it supports passage of SJR8, which…

    • on October 19, 2017
  • Re: The casting couch

    • Freedom from fear is a human right.

    • on October 19, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation