I should have gone into journalism, but I'd probably die sooner.

Posted by Whit Barringer , Wednesday, December 19, 2007 7:53 PM

So I'm feeling some leftover aggression from this past semester, and since I don't want to blog over 15 different topics in one post, I'll settle for a really unimportant article that happened to pick a bad moment for me to read it.

For some reason, I take it upon myself to read a half-sports half-public opinion piece in the New York Times. My curiosity was piqued by the title "Fledgling 'Fire Isiah' Movement Takes to the Streets". I had no idea who Isiah was or why people were starting a movement to get him fired, and was immediately interested, considering how topsy turvy the world news has been lately.

Can't say I was surprised when I found out that the Isiah mentioned was Isiah Thomas, "coach and President" of the Knicks, whose record is apparently a sore spot for fans. I knew nothing of this, and kept reading because I have an insatiable desire to be on top of things - whether I care about all of them or not (you never know what's going to come up in casual conversation!).

But I stopped dead at this (bold/italics are mine):

The hour-long rally appeared peaceful. Fans gathered to sign Nathan’s petition, an eight-foot pink slip that was taller than even a N.B.A. center. Several police officers monitored the event, most of them with bemused smiles on their faces.


There are times when I slip up and use a word incorrectly without thinking about it, or misspell things - you know, typical errors. Yet there is a crucial difference between me and Joe LaPointe. I don't have an editor.

In case you're still in the dark, I'll let Dictionary.com do the honors.

Bemused –adjective
1.bewildered or confused.
2.lost in thought; preoccupied.
And that's precisely the point. I'm almost absolutely sure that the officers weren't a) struggling to wrap their minds around was going on, or b) daydreaming. It's a common mistake because it sounds the same as what was probably meant - amused. I would have been amused by an eight-foot-tall petition as well. But I'm almost certain - almost completely positive - that they weren't bemused by it.

I'm not particularly upset that it happened, because it was a mistake I made a long time ago. It just bothers me because it's one of those words that people have allowed to lapse in meaning, becoming another synonym that the hefty English language doesn't need. It seems more of a sign of laziness than anything else.

That is all.

1 Response to "I should have gone into journalism, but I'd probably die sooner."

andrés Says:

Be prepared for a semi-off-topic response to this entry. =) I won't write it right now, but I'm making a post-it. Maybe tomorrow.

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