March 21st, 2021

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Someone in the media has unearthed old tweets by this lady that offend the sensibilities of some of today's liberals tuned to the recent Asian narrative; but that's not what attracted my attention. What caught my eye is the opposition to assimilation that they illustrate:

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A curious ugly factoid from the publishing world.

John McWhorter, explaining why he is publishing chapters from what he sees as his new book (he is still unsure about the title, the current working one is The Elect, and it's a social commentary rather than popular linguistics): "I have a book coming out about profanity ... called Nine Nasty Words, that's coming out in May, and contractually I can't release another book hot on the heels of or right behind that; that's not the way these things work."

(from a conversation with Michael Shermer)

Before I heard him say it (in a different conversation a bit earlier), I had no idea that releasing books too frequently can be a problem too.

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A recent story. An adjunct professor was fired for being caught on tape complaining that students in the bottom of her class tended to be black, which she was clearly blaming on the admissions practices:



This dialog was classified as an act of racism. The woman was sacked, and the man, for not cutting her short and not "calling her out" on the spot, was placed on leave.

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Examples of this usage are countless (there was a fantastic montage of numerous cable news anchors repeating identical phrases including "this is extremely dangerous to our democracy"), but if a scholar were tasked to provide a linguistic commentary on this utterance, how would he explain the phrase "a threat to our democracy"? What does it mean?