Word Hoard

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

It's Debatable

"I wanna tell her that I love her, but the point is prob'ly moot." Jessie's Girl - Rick Springfield.

"It's a mute point." Christal Gregerson.

I don't mean to harp on the solecisms of my friends and acquaintances, but they serve as a fine diving board (jumping off point).

American Heritage, through Bartleby.com, provides the nuts and bolts of moot.

My Macquarie follows the initial British meaning of moot as debatable. I don't know if this means Americans are the primary English speakers who use the hypothetical/irrelevant meaning. If so, what does that say about our respective cultures. Do the Brits and Aussies, and maybe Canucks, value debate more than Americans? Does an American take offense that someone would consider their position debatable, thence rendering the opposing view irrelevant? Or is the difference a commentary on the moot court process of law school, where the Yanks devalue the "practice" and the Limeys appreciate it more?


  • At August 23, 2006 12:12 PM, Blogger Allister said…

    I stumbled across your blog and had to laugh.

    I like it.

    Ranting about moot. Thats great!

  • At August 23, 2006 6:26 PM, Blogger Michael Covarrubias said…

    So if for instance no one was ever going to use this word again - would the debate over the meaning be moot?

    But if it will remain a popular word and if we expect that the answer will never be resolved, but the meaning is still relevant would the point of its meaning be moot?

    I learned the word "moot" when watching Jesse Jackson on SNL six years before the episode I mentioned in another comment on your other web log.

    ps. The New York Times writer who reviewed the episode referred to Billy Crystal in costume as a "Sammy Davis Jr. look-alike." Odd.

  • At August 23, 2006 9:24 PM, Blogger Buffy Turner said…

    Oh, Daniel,

    Your little links, like for the word solecism, kill me. But how do you determine with which words you'll succor your readers?

    I just have a link to dictionary.com on my page, you know, so as to eschew any possible suggestions of patronization. But your modus operandi works just as well and even better, I suppose, since it so cracks me up.

    And this evening, Michael showed me your link on the word, "this," from your penultimate post. Oh, Daniel, I just died. You're marvelous. Absolutely marvelous.

    I should have learned to click on your links after that little Stella Artois curfuffle, but I guess I'm a slow learner.

  • At August 24, 2006 12:55 PM, Blogger Daniel said…

    I like "curfuffle" as a spelling instead of kerfuffle. It implies that wretched curs are involved. I think the links work as a pull type info source. I'm not forcing anyone to click, and they can look at their browser bar to see where it will lead them.

  • At August 24, 2006 1:09 PM, Blogger The Clicker said…

    Neat! I wasn't aware of the two meanings. American Heritage said that some of their editors found the meaning moot.

    They also said, "When using moot one should be sure that the context makes clear which sense is meant." Sounds like good advice.


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