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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Unpalatable Art Fare?

ITEM: Wall Street Journal, Friday, March 7 (or thereabouts). "What to wear to an art fair." (Really? People need instruction on this?) In  a sidebar to this urgent sartorial advice, a lady by the name of Christina Binkley suggested wearing a basic black backdrop (so to speak), against which one could use a broad palate. Twice. 

As you know, Livia is not one to judge, but--well, OK, she is one to judge. How did this woman earn the right to have her opinions published in a national and well-respected newspaper when she appears to be inviting people to march around art fairs with their mouths wide open? More to the point, why did the editors of the aforementioned journal not catch and correct this howler? Twice?

Livia despairs. People who write for publication owe it to the rest of us to apprehend that our language is filled with homophones. You in the back, there: stop snickering! Homophones are words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings, to wit: palate, palette, pallet. 
  • Palate = roof of the mouth; alt., discerning taste. 
  • Palette = color wheel.
  • Pallet = sleeping mat; alt., flat, wheeled tray for moving numerous or bulky items.
And editors owe it to writers to  protect them from looking foolish or moronic in print. Livia is envisioning a number of potential causes for Ms. Binkley's lapse: She may actually think that "palate" is the right word, in which case there is no hope for her. Or she might have intended to use "palette," but is a less-than-accomplished typist. As for the editor, Livia has some words that cannot be quoted in a family newspaper. It is the editor's job to know the difference, to read a writer's work carefully, and to correct mistakes. Shame on the one who left Ms. Binkley open to ridicule.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Amazing Is Not Amazing Anymore

The Harcourt Brace and World Standard College Dictionary:  Amaze: verb 1.  To overwhelm, as by wonder or surprise; astonish greatly. 2. Obs. To bewilder.  Amazing: Adjective.  Causing amazement; astonishing, wonderful.

Roget's II The New Thesaurus:
Amaze (verb): surprise.  Amazing (adjective): fabulous.

How is it that all of the creatives are like lemmings when it comes to this adjective?  Are they not artists?  Are they not really that creative after all?  What's so wrong with wonderful?  Isn't fabulous still fabulous?

The only justification for the overuse of amazing is if in fact everyone is incorrectly reading the facial expressions of those who may have overindulged in Botox.  Although this is probably a contributing factor, Cicero is not persuaded that this is the reason celebrities have such a short list of adjectives.

Economists like to "call the bottom" of an economic trend.  Cicero is calling the bottom of amazing (thank you, Academy Awards).