Activist. A person who
- puts one desideratum above all others;
- cares not how much it costs to achieve the desideratum;
- cares not about the costs imposed on others;
- or believes that government spending is “free.”
Anniversary. “Anniversary” means “the annually recurring date of a past event.” To write or say “x-year anniversary” is redundant as well as graceless. To write or say “x-month anniversary” is nonsensical; what is meant is that such-and-such happened “x” months ago.
Compassion. A trait that an activist–liberal (progressive) claims to possess, which is measured by the cost (to others) of achieving their desiderata.
Language, above all else, should be used to make one’s thoughts clear to others. The pairing of a plural noun and a singular verb form is distracting, if not confusing. Even though datum is seldom used by Americans, it remains the singular foundation of data, which is the plural form. Data, therefore, never “is”; they always “are.
Latin plurals sometimes become singular English words (e.g., agenda, stamina) and data is often so treated in U.S.; in Britain this is still considered a solecism…. (H.W. Fowler, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, second edition, p.119)
But Follett is better on the subject:
Those who treat data as a singular doubtless think of it as a generic noun, comparable to knowledge or information…. [A generous interpretation: ED.] The rationale of agenda as a singular is its use to mean a collective program of action, rather than separate items to be acted on. But there is as yet no obligation to change the number of data under the influence of error mixed with innovation. (Wilson Follett, Modern American Usage, pp. 130-1)
To say “data are” is to present oneself as a learned person of high standards. That, unfortunately, is an “old fashioned” attitude in this day of dumbed-down vulgarity.
He. It has become fashionable for academicians and pseudo-serious writers (e.g., those who spill pixels at The New Republic) to use “she” where “he” long served as the generic (and sexless) reference to a singular third-person. Here is an especially grating passage:
What is a historian of ideas to do? A pessimist would say she is faced with two options. She could continue to research the Enlightenment on its own terms, and wait for those who fight over its legacy—who are somehow confident in their definitions of what “it” was—to take notice. Or, as [Jonathan] Israel has done, she could pick a side, and mobilise an immense archive for the cause of liberal modernity or for the cause of its enemies. In other words, she could join Moses Herzog, with his letters that never get read and his questions that never get answered, or she could join Sandor Himmelstein and the loud, ignorant bastards. (Ollie Cussen, “The trouble with the enlightenment,” Prospect, May 5, 2013).
I don’t know about you, but am distracted by the use of “she.” First, because it’s not the norm, my first reaction to reading it in place of “he” is to wonder who this “she” is; whereas, the function of “he” a a stand-in for anyone (regardless of gender) was well understood. Second, the usage is so obviously meant to mark the writer as politically correct, that it colors the reader’s assessment of the writer’s authority, for good or ill (and definitely for ill, as I see it).
Liberal (or progressive). Same as activist, but with a long list of desiderata.
Man. Here’s another word (like “he”) that was for ages perfectly understood (in the proper context) as referring to persons in general, not to male persons in particular. (“Mankind” merely adds a superfluous syllable.)
The short, serviceable “man” has been replaced, for the most part, by “humankind.” I am baffled by the need to replaced one syllable with three. I am baffled further by the persistence of “man” — a sexist term — in the three-syllable substitute. But it gets worse when writers strain to avoid the solo use of “man” by resorting to “human beings” and the “human species.” These are longer than “humankind,” and both retain the accursed “man.”
The political-correctness feminazi brigade needs to invent a better replacement for “man.” “Huwomynkind” perhaps?
The feminazi brigade’s fondest wish, of course, is to replace men, or simply to eradicate them. Luckily, those of their number who come early to the feminist religion are unlikely to reproduce. This is a blessing to the children they will not have and to the future of man — the species known as homo sapiens.
Niggardly. Some years ago, I met with a group of employees to discuss the state of the company’s budget. In the course of the discussion I used the word “niggardly” (meaning stingy or penny-pinching). The next day a fellow vice president informed me that some of the black employees in her division of the company had been offended by “niggardly.” I suggested that the correct response to their objection was not to abandon a serviceable word, but to offer remedial training in English vocabulary.