Media Word Usage

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gitgeezer
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Media Word Usage

Post by gitgeezer » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:57 pm

This is a sequel to my Decline in Vocabulary thread. Have you seen any interesting words used in the media lately? Any signs that the media is still capable of a strong and effective vocabulary, or at least capable of using interesting words? Or, on the negative side, instances of misuse of words or use of weaker words than might have been used?

I was inspired to ask this question after seeing "fustigate" used in this morning's news. I don't recall previously seeing it in a news article. It means to beat with a stick or a cudgel, and was used in a story about a politician who "fustigated" another politician (metaphorically, of course).

Is this a silly usage or a sign that media vocabulary is still strong?

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by Andrew Fryer » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:45 pm

Not lately. The words don't need to be stronger or more interesting than the audience.
They still use the older ones here, afaik. But I find consuming the media a bit like drinking a bottle of ipecac.
The police "quiz", this is brief (space is at a premium, as in telegrams and txts), and it avoids the violent connotations of "interrogate".
Kids are "feral". This one is double-edged - it implies that they are animals, but the downside is that a lot of tabloid readers will have to go to a library to find a dictionary to look it up.
I thought "destroy" had replaced all synonyms of "contradict" in America?
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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:07 pm

The writer, broadcaster, lecturer and social commentator, Will Self, is a great fount of interesting and often obscure vocabulary. I am a big fan of his.

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cefyn
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by cefyn » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:13 pm

A couple that spring to mind that are weather related: 'Snowbomb' and 'Thundersnow' I mean, really? In the UK this relates to about 2 inches of snow!

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Laudiesdad69
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by Laudiesdad69 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:16 pm

I’m metaphorically, mentally fustigated! This, after watching a football player being interviewed on the news say he was “fustrated”. The media doesn’t need to use too many big words when people can’t even pronounce or spell the the small ones. What bothers me more is that in almost every article I read from media outlets, there are grammatical and spelling errors. My former step daughter graduated from high school, and can’t spell correctly. The media NEEDS to dumb it down, for the “fustrated” and confused.

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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by pogmoor » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:58 pm

gitgeezer wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:57 pm
This is a sequel to my Decline in Vocabulary thread. Have you seen any interesting words used in the media lately? Any signs that the media is still capable of a strong and effective vocabulary...
Is the use of media as a singular noun itself an example of the decline of vocabulary?
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lagartija
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by lagartija » Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:18 pm

....any signs that the Media are still capable of strong and effective word choices?

Don’t forget that the word “data” suffers from the same problem. There are heated arguments about whether or not a plural Latin word that appears to native speakers of English to be singular, should be treated as such.
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gitgeezer
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by gitgeezer » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:32 pm

pogmoor wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:58 pm
gitgeezer wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:57 pm
This is a sequel to my Decline in Vocabulary thread. Have you seen any interesting words used in the media lately? Any signs that the media is still capable of a strong and effective vocabulary...
Is the use of media as a singular noun itself an example of the decline of vocabulary?
Webster's New World College Dictionary says "the media [usually with sing. v.]" Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary says "media … usage: The singular media and its plural medias seem to have originated in the field of advertising over 70 years ago … The popularity of the word in reference to the agencies of mass communication is leading to the formation of a mass noun construed as a singular … <the media is less interested in the party's policies—James Lewis, Guardian Weekly>"

I used "media" as a singular noun without thinking about it, probably just going along with the flow. One may of course object to this movement as a weakening of the language. I see no harm in it myself.

It reminds me of the story of the newspaper editor who insisted that "news" was a plural noun and that his reporters should use it with a plural verb. One day he had occasion to wire one of his reporters, "are there any news?" The reporter wired back, "no, not a single new."

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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by Intune » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:40 pm

I think the media often choose weak "weasel words" in an attempt to euphemize uncomfortable truths relating to the powerful. Thus, one obvious habitual liar in the daily news -- who shall remain nameless -- becomes an "embellisher of the truth," a "fabricator.." or somesuch instead of the plain simple "liar" that even neutral observers know him to be. I find this media usage interesting and disturbing at the same time.
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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by Andrew Fryer » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:48 pm

pogmoor wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:58 pm
Is the use of media as a singular noun itself an example of the decline of vocabulary?
Yeah, I read a book on cultural geography last year that said "literature is a media".
Literature is a medium. It is one of the media. It is not one of the medias.

If Merriam Webster says otherwise, then that's an area where American and English might be drifting apart, but will probably drift back together again, like Gondwanaland.

It's interesting because I'd have said that media is not a collective noun, whereas data is, although the singular datum still exists.
I think Will Self is the source of the observation that stamina was originally a plural but has lost its singular.

I wanted to say that the politicians are the ones redefining language at the moment, so the media might not be feeling the need to.
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gitgeezer
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by gitgeezer » Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:17 pm

Andrew Fryer wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:48 pm
pogmoor wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:58 pm
Is the use of media as a singular noun itself an example of the decline of vocabulary?
Yeah, I read a book on cultural geography last year that said "literature is a media".
Literature is a medium. It is one of the media. It is not one of the medias.

If Merriam Webster says otherwise, then that's an area where American and English might be drifting apart, but will probably drift back together again, like Gondwanaland.

It's interesting because I'd have said that media is not a collective noun, whereas data is, although the singular datum still exists.
I think Will Self is the source of the observation that stamina was originally a plural but has lost its singular.

I wanted to say that the politicians are the ones redefining language at the moment, so the media might not be feeling the need to.
Yes, that usage was obviously incorrect, and I don't think Merriam Webster would say otherwise. That usage took the movement in mass communications of treating "media" as a singular noun a step too far. Even the field of mass communications would not condone "The New York Times is a media."

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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by gitgeezer » Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:20 pm

It seems to me that we occasionally fall into the error of demanding that usages be consistent within a system of grammar. We forget that systems of grammar do not create or justify usage, but rather accepted usage leads to systems of grammar. Grammar systems follow along behind accepted usage and just try to keep up as best they can.

Whether a usage becomes "grammatical" depends on how extensively it's accepted by users (we used to say by "educated" users, but that credential is apparently no longer required). And this acceptance is incremental. A new way of using a word may become accepted in some contexts but not in others. Thus "the media is covering the election" may become accepted while "literature is a media" still hurts our ears.

Systems of grammar must adapt to accepted usage. No system of grammar rejects the connection of the irregular verb "go" with its past tense "went." But at one time this connection was an aberration. There were two verbs: (1) "go," with its past tense "goed," and (2) "wend," with its past tense "went." Over time "goed" disappeared completely (except occasionally by children who mistakenly try to make language logical, poor innocent dears) and "wend" is only occasionally used, mostly poetically. The abandoned "go" and "went" then clasped each other in a warm embrace, and though the union may have been much condemned originally, is now a perfectly respectable pairing in all systems of English grammar.

And so it goes.

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by Andrew Fryer » Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:40 pm

gitgeezer wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:20 pm
It seems to me that we occasionally fall into the error of demanding that usages be consistent within a system of grammar. We forget that systems of grammar do not create or justify usage, but rather accepted usage leads to systems of grammar.
I haven't read a book on general linguistics since the early 80s, and I didn't find it interesting enough to read any more on the subject, so I don't know if there's a quick answer to this.

You seem to be saying that we don't adhere to grammars directly, but nevertheless we adhere to them indirectly, since we adhere to usage, and grammars reflect usage? Do we gain anything from this distinction? Are you saying it because you want to be down with the people who are ignorant of Latin? That sounds rude. It's not meant to be.

You may be right: - although the Romans knew Greek, their system of declining Greek words deviated from Greek usage.

The same geography book I mentioned earlier used the plural "metropoli". That too is horrible. According to the OED, metropolus is a valid singular (but it doesn't list metropoli as one of the valid plurals). I don't believe that metropolus exists anywhere in any Latin text and don't know why the OED thinks it is valid.
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CathyCate
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by CathyCate » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:00 pm

I have discovered that many errors may result from accepting corrections suggested by automated spell check functions. Human proof readers are important to ensure clear and quality communication. I have not done any research, but I would be surprised to find the job category still in existence.

P.S. My poof feeder is still off calibrating the holidays :lol:

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prawnheed
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by prawnheed » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:14 pm

I have seen a new use for the word genius.

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