Monthly Archives: March 2018

Journalese du Jour

Our dictionary has a section titled “Plat du journalese,” introduced as “a menu of essential ingredients found in spicing up or watering down restaurant reviews or food features.” Du jour itself is journalese, and a beautiful example was in a short commentary in STAT — the excellent life sciences, biotech, and pharma blog published independently by owners of The Boston Globe. Here’s the Mar. 28, 2018, item: “Mark Zuckerberg is… Read Article →

Data mining an old story

Stories of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytics brouhaha miss a basic point, according to a Boston Herald editorial Mar. 23, 2018, headlined “Data mining not new.” The editorial points out that despite the screaming, there is nothing new nor illegal about it. The editorial says: “This type of scrutiny by detractors is reserved for this particular president. Media raved when the Obama campaign used similar data to target voters in the 2012… Read Article →

Right from the horse’s mouth.

A classic quote by Boston’s late mayor, Thomas Menino, was his description of a nagging city problem: “It’s an Alcatraz around my neck.” Menino’s successor is not quite as eloquent, but here’s a beaut, from a press release about $15 million to fund affordable housing, and published in the North End Regional Review, Mar. 16, 2018: “Preserving Boston’s affordability is key to ensuring everyone who wants to live here can’t… Read Article →

Oust very much in.

Oust is wonderful journalese, very much in the news as Ouster-in-Chief Trump puts his old show-biz line, “You’re fired!” to use every other day. Latest, of course, to get the boot is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. What makes “oust” so popular is that it’s short and sweet for a headline. And making it qualify for listing as journalese is that it’s never used in ordinary conversation. When did you… Read Article →

Nor’easter explained.

One of my favorite journalese weather terms is “nor’easter,” used to describe just about any major New England storm, whether it’s from the northeast or from anywhere else. The Boston Globe, Mar. 7, 2018, has a good “Lexicon” column answering, “So, what exactly is a nor’easter?” Mark Liberman, linguistics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, is quoted. He backs up my thesis that the term is a “fake regionalism.” Check… Read Article →

Are socialites still socializing?

One of our favorite journalese descriptions is “socialite.” You never hear someone say, “She’s a socialite, the widow of Throckmorton Moneybags III.” Or, “I’m inviting several socialites to our dinner party.” You only see the word in news stories. The Merriam-Webster definition of a socialite is: “a socially prominent person.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English language is more specific: “One prominent in fashionable society.” Of course, the word… Read Article →