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From Issue #8 January 17, 2013

Fighting Words

I didn’t come here for an ungument.

By Erin McKean Twitter icon 

You’ve written a blog entry or perhaps a tweet. You may be unprepared for both the quantity and the ferocity of the language criticism that results at the speed of “send.” Your words reach farther and faster than ever before. But a few simple techniques of word diplomacy and word jujitsu can defuse almost any critic and let you feel like you won even when walking away.

While there are many types of arguments about words, the two with the greatest validity are complaints that the wrong word was chosen and gripes that a given word is not a word at all. There’s some overlap. For instance, some of the outcry around Sarah Palin’s use of the word “refudiate” was that she intended either refute or repudiate; some was that the word refudiate isn’t “real.”

Illustration by Shannon Wheeler.

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