Tuesday, January 16, 2007



Type Canutist into Google, and you get about 50 hits. None seems to trace its origin. Theodore M. Bernstein, Dos, Don't & Maybes of English Usage (New York: Times Books, 1977), p. 105, claims to have coined Canutist, in his discussion of the word hopefully:
Unfortunately, no parallel word that means "it is to be hoped" exists. And happily, to use hopefully in that manner in no way distorts or corrupts the first meaning of the word. But strangely, the opposition continues to grow. Bruce Bohle, usage editor of the American Heritage Dictionary, tells me that approval of the secondary sense among the dictionary's usage panel was 44 per cent in 1968, 42 per cent in 1970 and 37 per cent in 1975. But he adds this personal opinion about the secondary meaning: "Realistically, I suppose it is here." I think he is right. Those who continue to oppose that meaning are Canutists. That word Canutists was coined here just a moment ago. Can't you hear people saying, "I suppose it's related to King Canute. But what does Canute connote?" And then they will recall that Canute tried in vain to sweep back the waves of the ocean.
The Canutist would be a good name for a reactionary's blog.

This week's theme on A.WordA.Day is eponyms. By coincidence, today's word is Rip Van Winkle, defined as "One who fails to keep up with the times."

At the The 46th History Carnival, I read:
Patriarchy is further undermined by Michael Gilleland at Laudator Temporis Acti with some observations on the difficulty of proving paternity before DNA testing came along.
"Undermining patriarchy" is a distressing accusation for a Canutist and Rip Van Winkle.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?