Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pedanterasty

Josh writes:

OK, I thought everyone knew about this one by now, but I've seen it crop a few times lately, so just to be clear: "refute" means "disprove", not "deny". To refute a claim, you have to actually demonstrate that it's false, not just say that it is.

David Benson-Pope has not refuted the current claims against him, he's denied them (and not very convincingly at that).


Bonus pedantry! I haven't seen his in ages, but just in case it makes a comeback: "fulsome" means "excessive" or "overblown" -- "fulsome praise" is exaggerated and insincere, for example. People sometimes assume that it means "full" or "comprehensive" -- I was once told at a job interview that I had a "fulsome CV" (which the interviewer meant as a compliment). I didn't tell her that she'd actually just insulted me, not wanting to make a bad impression. Now that I think about it, maybe it was a test of my vocabulary to see if I'd make the correction -- or maybe she was surreptitiously insulting me and assuming I wouldn't get the insult...

11 comments:

Tristan said...

Right I'll stop using the phrase "fulsome breasts" which I think prehaps started this misinterpration...

Span said...

I didn't know that about fulsome, thank ye kindly.

The one that really gets on my goat is sanctions. How can the UN be taking sanctions against (insert oil rich country not doing what USA wants), when other people say they sanction (as in approve) of x, y or z?

Argh!

RSJS said...

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fulsome

"In the 13th century when it was first used, fulsome meant simply “abundant or copious.” It later developed additional senses of “offensive, gross” and “disgusting, sickening,” probably by association with foul, and still later a sense of excessiveness: a fulsome disease; a fulsome meal, replete with too much of everything. For some centuries fulsome was used exclusively, or nearly so, with these unfavorable meanings.
Today, both fulsome and fulsomely are also used in senses closer to the original one: The sparse language of the new Prayer Book contrasts with the fulsome language of Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer. Later they discussed the topic more fulsomely. These uses are often criticized on the grounds that fulsome must always retain its connotations of “excessive” or “offensive.” The common phrase fulsome praise is thus sometimes ambiguous in modern use."

(Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006. )

Seems people are trying to take back the innocent meaning of fulsome. And "porch monkeys".

Eric Olthwaite said...

Actually Tristan, there seems little wrong with your phrase even in the light of Josh's pedanterism.

Though, like Josh's job interview, if you strike someone who knows what the word means, you might not get the breasts.

Josh said...

I see you've both been reading the Dictionary.com entry, which give the gives the "full" meaning as a Usage Note or Usage Problem, while the actual definitions lean heavily towards the "excessive"/"offensive" meaning.

Even then, I don't know about "fulsome breasts" - they might be "full", but they'd never be abundant or copious (I assume she only has the two...)

Eric Olthwaite said...

"overblown" breasts?
"exaggerated" breasts?
"insincere" breasts?

I shall seek the counsel of a proper dictionary when I get home...

Apathy Jack said...

I've known some insincere boobs in my time.



Wait, what are we talking about...?

That Morthos Stare said...

Can I just say 'Fulsome praise my fulsome arse!'

I can. Thanks.

Lyndon said...

Benson-Pope and 'refuting' again? His actual initial response to the tennis ball claims was 'i refute them', so everyone reported that he had. I remember being on the smug side of an argument over that one.

Ms Klake said...

Are insincere boobs when ladies such as myself use various forms of padding as false advertisement?

Apathy Jack said...

Actually, I was thinking more of, say, university students.