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 jemcintyre@gmail.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/.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Before the urchins come clamoring for candy

Item: Wishydig’s recent post, “The English language in America is not threatened,” a point frequently made on these premises, quotes the text of a 1987 resolution adopted by the Linguistic Society of America saying that efforts to make English an official language are misguided and potentially harmful. It will repay your attention.

Item: At Language Log, Arnold Zwicky goes into the peculiar hostility to quotative inversion. At his own site, he examines the peevish hostility to the word blog. For the record, no objection to it here; You Don’t Say appreciates useful monosyllables.

Item: In a weak moment, I succumbed to the temptation to set up a Twitter site, @FakeWardCleaver. Thoughts?

Item: The article on Halloween mentioned in the earlier post “Is that a demon at the door?” has generated a vast number of comments, many of them amusing and some of them intentionally so. The ensuing uproar has moved the editors of Charisma to post a second article defending a Christian’s celebration of Halloween. The comments on the anodyne article are predictably less amusing.

Item: A well-wisher’s anonymous letter today — the one calling me “a thief and a liar” — celebrates the belated discovery of my having been laid off by The Sun six months ago and kindly suggests that as an alternative to eating canned dog food, I might buy a gun and kill myself. Actually, and thanks for thinking of me, I have other plans.

Item: Remember that you can use the GoodSearch engine to find things on the Internet while, if you make the ACES Education Fund your designated cause, funneling pennies to that worthy endeavor.

Is that a demon at the door?

Thanks to @word_czar on Twitter, I have had the opportunity to read what the Rev. Kimberly Daniels of Jacksonville, Florida, has to say about the dangers of Halloween. It is, she asserts, a pagan witch festival, a day devoted to Lucifer. Halloween candy has been prayed over by witches. Opening the door to trick-or-treaters invites demons into your house. There are things going on tonight beneath your awareness:

Sex with demons
Orgies between humans and animals
Animal and human sacrifices
Sacrificing babies to shed innocent blood
Rape and molestation of adults, children and babies
Revel nights
Conjuring of demons and casting of spells
Release of “time-released” curses against the innocent and the ignorant


(Revel nights? Revelry?)

Though you might have expected this to be the work of those scamps at The Onion, the Charisma Web site on which this article appears does not seem to be a satirical production. We are evidently meant to take this straight.

Therefore I will have to check back in a couple of months to see the Rev. Mrs. Daniels expose the Luciferian nature of Christmas.

Baby Jesus almost certainly did not enter the world on December 25 (or at Bethlehem, but that’s a different argument); the early Church appropriated the pagan solstice festival of the Unconquered Sun (Sol Invictus) for itself. And everyone knows, or should be warned, that the Christmas tree, popularized in the English-speaking world by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s German consort, is a relic of Teutonic tree-worship. You know that nasty things went on in those forests.

The Old One has his snares everywhere. (Could it be that Beelzebub planted this very article to make Christianity look ridiculous?) Watch your step.