Thursday, July 03, 2008

Obama Calls America Wicked


OK, not really. But there was this:

Obama emphasized what he called "the enormity of the American accomplishment," touring Peterson Air Force Base here, viewing the ultra-secretive North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Northern Command headquarters and the Air Force Academy.
It's not quite "misunderestimated," but it could be a little disappointing to . . . "some."

8 comments:

E.K. Hornbeck said...

That surprises me coming from Obama. Thus far, he has been impressively precise with the spoken word. I frequently see enormity misused, but that shouldn't be a mistake made by a former president of the Harvard Law Review.

Elly said...

I'm clearly seeing a third definition in there which sort of maybe explains Obama (and the rest of the hoi polloi) in using it interchangeably with enormousness or immensity. The word itself doesn't stem from a root meaning wicked, it stems from a root meaning "pretty darn big." Okay, so it's a pejorative "pretty darn big," but I award points back to him for at least being in the right conceptual neighborhood.
Even former presidents of the Harvard Law Review make mistakes, shockingly. It is probably not a sin in the eyes of Editor-Jesus.

JD said...

I'm not so sure it's a mistake or misuse. My OED recognises that 'enormity' is increasingly being used to mean 'enormousness' - perhaps Obama is just part of the vanguard of language change?

Bill said...

It's all there, folks. Sometimes I wonder about the state of reading comprehension even among those smart and discerning enough to visit this spot. Or maybe I'm just too subtle sometimes :-).

Elly said...

Care to elucidate for us then, Bill?

Bill said...

The disputed definition is right there. Webster's New World says it's disputed. I allude to the disputed status and strongly imply that I agree with the disputers.

Everything that's interesting in my writing and the talking-about-language business in general takes place in that space between the first appearance of a common mistake and the time when pretty much everyone agrees that common usage has rendered it no longer a mistake.

Elly said...

Which is exactly why I check my RSS feed for Blogslot once a day.
Though I may not pass the litmus test, a loyal reader I am ;-).

TootsNYC said...

Great fodder for a negative campaign ad!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf3o8JnEcuE