Patterico's Pontifications


Today in Great Writing

Filed under: General — JVW @ 1:24 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Those of you who have suffered through my oftentimes ponderous prose have probably discovered that I have a great appreciation for a clever phrase, especially one with a perfectly-placed pun (and yes, I also have an awful addiction to alliteration). So today I want to give a shout-out to Santi Ruiz of the Washington Free Beacon who hits it out of the park in his review of Senator Amy Klobuchar’s leaden new tome, Antitrust: Taking on Monopoly Power from the Gilded Age to the Digital Age:

Of course, antitrust law is a warren of dull economic jargon, and even the flashiest author would be hard-pressed to jazz it up.

Merriam-Webster tells us that warren is a chiefly British word meaning “a place legally authorized for keeping small game (such as hare or pheasant),” or in other usage “a maze of passageways or small rooms.” I am jealous that I will never have the opportunity to use the word in such perfect context as Mr. Ruiz did, though I think there is a legitimate debate as to whether it would have been even more clever had he capitalized it. (Perhaps he did, and a meddlesome copyeditor changed it.) In any case, cheers to him.


5 Responses to “Today in Great Writing”

  1. ‘Pon my word, sir, but thou art easily impressed. That is a horrible sentence and doubly so for a book reviewer. “Warren”? Is that where “economic jargon” is to be found? And is it the building material, the contents, or both? “Flashiest writer”? “Hard-pressed”? “Jazz it up”? George Orwell would have slapped him.

    nk (1d9030)

  2. ‘Today in Great Writing’

    Hemmingway was overrated.


    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  3. I can’t believe Klobuchar’s editor didn’t catch this gem: “are literally flooding the seat of democracy”.

    norcal (01e272)

  4. Odd, I didn’t even realize I had published this post. I must have hit the wrong button by accident. Oh well, I would normally have saved it for later this evening.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  5. Actually, the word “warren” refers to an underground nest where rabbits dwell. It’s quite complex really, full of tunnels and chambers. There was an interesting book about warrens a few decades ago, but I don’t remember the title or the author.

    As a logophile, I am fascinated by word origins and turns of phrases. Did you know that the English language has over 1.2 million vocabulary words and adds about 20,000 new words a year? It’s a language of languages, drawing words from multiple sources because of its origin.

    Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is really Old German, or Scandinavian. This is the language of Beowulf. After the Norman Conquest, the official language of the court was French. The official language of the Church was Latin. But the people spoke another language, English. It was probably Celtic in origin, but then was influenced by other languages. What happened was that the English speaking people switched from an inflected language to a word ordered language–subject, verb, object. This allowed them to incorporate any word from any language into a sentence. All they had to do was place a word in its proper place.

    Thus, English was born. It keeps incorporating words from many languages into its vocabulary. That’s why the authors of The Story of English, no longer call it English, but rather Globish, because it’s spoken all over the globe. It just keeps adding words from every language.

    I wouldn’t call any political commentary today the “Greatest Writing.” That is reserved for literature. Homer, Donte, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Whitman, Dickinson, Twain, Faulkner, Frost, and Cummings; men and women like that. Hemmingway was an after thought.

    We are talking about art here, the art of language. I don’t see anyone on the present stage representing it properly. They have no respect for greatness. And they do not follow their masters.

    Gawain's Ghost (b25cd1)

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