The Vocabula Review

March 2008, Vol. 10, No. 3 Saturday, April 30, 2016

Letters to the Editor
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Praise and Criticism

If often can be said to mean something like "many times," then oftentimes would seem to imply, awkwardly and unnecessarily, "many times times."

I call these caboose-words; they are extravagant, made-up, pulled like overstretched taffy. Or, as [Kerr Houston writes], such words share "inelegance" and "lack of economy."

There are worse examples, such as "we were conversating," or " he is commentating about ...."

Shiver shiver, from the nape of my neck!

Michele Mooney

Since Mark Halpern's essay only once or twice broaches the subject of language, I am not sure what it is doing in the Vocabula Review. I would not object to an article that traced the origin and usage of the term "PC" in American discourse. (Who coined the term, for example, and with what rhetorical goal? Have "PCs" ever actually applied it to themselves, or has it always been used to deride them?) But such an article would require both historical research and a measure of political objectivity, and Halpern's is not rich in either category.

I would be disappointed to see Vocabula become a forum for political opinion pieces that bear only tangentially on language.

David Chinitz

"Bad-hair day" and "soccer mom" are not words. "Dead presidents" and "identity theft" are not words. These are phrases. I think I allowed this oversight to irritate me so much because of the pun section. Why is it that the people who are fond of bad puns, really bad puns, are often the ones who are so willing to inflict us with those bad puns? They know those puns are bad puns. They revel in the fact that they are bad puns. Yet these pun-dips are impelled to torture us. He's even got me making bad puns. The previously mentioned Lederer words were phrases, not words.

Dana Reed Thurston

Other Observations

Why am I hearing and seeing "with" stuck on the verbs "to visit, to consult, to meet" when they are all plain, transitive verbs with an unvarnished object and no auxiliary?

I come across this constantly in USA stuff, but now occasionally on the British TV/radio.

"With" is ungrammatical.

The verb has no need of "with" and, indeed, "with" is, in fact, nonsense here, as it implies the equal co-operation of the object with the subject, although neither is "with" the other until the moment after the event of the verb has occurred and the object is not party to the action.

It's hard not to be dazzled by Barack Obama. At the 2004 Democratic convention, he visited with Newsweek reporters and editors, including me.

The only exception I can discover is an abstract or metaphorical sense, such as "meeting with adversity."

John Gibson

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