John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
A small gap in the language
We can identify people who call themselves environmentalists by a cluster of values and positions on public policy. And we can identify pejorative terms — tree-hugger, for example — used by people who do not share their values and oppose their positions.
But Mr. McMahon is right: We do not have a single, neutral term to describe people with an opposing point of view. He comments: “A colleague of mine in the education/slash/journalism field, Monica Westin, suggested “depletist” or “depletionist,” which might function as an opposite to conservationist, but doesn’t work as well when opposed to environmentalist. The problem with depletist, it seems to me, is that it should have its own opposite that means something like filler-upper.”
If you have any suggestions — keeping in mind that we’re looking for a term as neutral as environmentalist, not a pejorative — I’d be happy to forward them to Mr. McMahon.