Watch your language Dept. : OBLITERATE, OB-LITERATE…

6/24/07, 10:58 PM
Obliterate –a word with an interesting built-in message.

Definition: To do away with completely; destroy so as to leave no trace. [Etymology: Latin –obliterare, “to strike out words.”]

Literacy, we know.

But, New word: Obliteracy?

(Lennie Lopate does a section every month, “Three Little Words” a show about words with “word-maven” Patricia Connors on WNYC. It’s often interesting, amusing, but increasingly it is falling prey to that air-borne disease, wnyCuteness. Be careful –there’s a lot of it about.
Take “word-maven” (see above) for example. Once upon a time it was a NY-insider word. It was then seized upon by tv-and-tabloid types to show how with it they were. And of course, they over-used it.
That was all…LONG AGO.

One of my favorite Yiddish* proverbs puts it well: “The first time it’s smart; the second time it’s cute; and the third time you get smashed in the teeth.”

It’s time for Phase Three, folks. Please.

(* For more information, see “Proverb Collections” section of my website. “Irish Proverbs” and “Yiddish Proverbs” are two of my most popular books.)


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