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 email@example.com, 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/.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Today's word: egregious
It is always helpful to illustrate the use of a word. Yesterday, several sources (my spies are everywhere) brought to my attention the most egregious allusion to the September 11 attacks that I have ever seen in print.
An article by Karl Raymond, the sports editor of the Sun Prairie Star of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, was published with these opening paragraphs:
The nightmare of 9/11 will live forever in our minds and memories.
Fast forward eight years later and last Friday, Sept. 11 is a night the Sun Prairie High School football team, coaching staff and Cardinal fans hope can soon be forgotten. Dealt a 22-0 halftime deficit by Madison Memorial in a Big Eight Conference football game at Ashley Field, the Cardinals made an inspiring comeback in the second half but never fully recovered, falling to the Spartans, 22-14.
Please note the elements: the platitudinous opening sentence, the fast forward to cliche, the two clotted sentences that delay to the very end the magnitude (22-14) of this colossal defeat, and the utter, grotesque disproportion of the two events.
Bonus word of the day:
Execrable (adj.) From the French exécrable, ultimately from the Latin verb execrari (to curse). Of wretched quality, bad beyond description,
That someone would attempt such a comparison is monstrous enough, but presumably someone else displayed the execrable judgment to allow it to be published.