This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.



Thursday, 6 March 2014

Eschewing sense: a rant.

The Guardian newspaper is well-known (and well-loved) for its misprints (I do hope that it really did publish its legendary review of the opera Doris Godunov) but the problem that occurred in Will Self's article on William Burroughs went beyond a joke.

Here is the offending passage:

'...his [Burroughs'] quintessentially Midwestern libertarianism led him to eschew any command economy of ethics, while his personal inclinations meant he had to travel with distastefully socialist and liberal fellows. For Burroughs, the re-evaluation was both discount and markup, and perhaps it was this that made him such a great avatar of the emergent counterculture.'

See? That bit has come out in some foreign language.

Now, I'm relying on your help, here.

Does anyone know in which language this passage has been written?

And, secondly, does anyone have the faintest idea what it might mean?

Word To Use Today: eschew. Well, why not? At least you'll have lots of people saying bless you. Eschew comes from the Old French eschiver, which in turn comes from some Germanic root. It might be something to do with the Old High German skiuhan, which means to frighten away.


4 comments:

  1. I don't like the word 'eschew', because I can never quickly remember how it's pronounced (ess-chew or eh-shoo), and by the time I've remembered the moment has gone. Thus, I tend to eschew it.

    As for Will Self, he writes in a proudly obfuscatory style, often favouring abstruse vocabulary where simpler words would do just as well. I haven't yet decided whether I admire his unflinching individualism or dislike his pretension.

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  2. I don't mind the long words, which I can look up, but I still have no idea what a command economy of ethics is. Centrally-imposed values? Does it all just mean 'people admired him because he was a bit of a rebel'? I wish I knew!

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  3. It'\s all nonsense, but reads well! ESCHEW is a word I love....my husband had a plaque on his filing cabinet which reads: ESCHEW OBFUSCATION! Not something dear Will Self has ever done! Have no idea what his piece means. NOT A CLUE!

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    Replies
    1. And there is clarity and honesty in two words - and a joke, as well. Now that's what I call brilliance.

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