This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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



Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Thing To Do Today. Possibly. Mock someone.

What's the difference between mocking someone and insulting them?
 
It's true that mockery is designed to raise a smile, but that's not the only difference, or this:
 
There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.
William Shakespeare: 1 Henry IV

 
would be mockery. And it's really an insult.
 
Mocking someone encourages others to feel contempt for him. 
 
It can be kindly done, but it's far easier to be cruel:
 
Pray, do not mock me:
I am a very foolish fond old man,
Fourscore and upward, not an hour more, or less:
And, to deal plainly,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
William Shakespeare: King Lear
 
There's often a strain of imitation to mockery, and imitation has been part of the sense of the word for hundreds of years. We still talk of mock exams (which are taken as practice before the real ones); or mock turtle soup (which is made from a calf's head); or mockumentaries (ouch, horrible word!) which imitate a documentary.
 
Tenniel's illustration of Alice listening to the mock turtle.
 
We talk of mock-ups, too, which are models of machines (or anything else) for testing purposes.
 
So. Do you want to mock someone?
 
Fine. Be my guest.
 
Just as long as he is stronger than you.
 
Obviously.
 
Thing To Do Today. Possibly. Mock someone. This word comes from the French mocquer.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

4 comments:

  1. This is an interesting post, Sally.

    In short, I believe in mockery, and I don't necessarily believe one should only mock those that are stronger.

    On Lexicolatry, I have mocked: bigots, The Daily Mail, The Sun, Lance Armstrong, right-wingers, chauvinists, young people, the English, the French, Americans, homoeopaths, spirit mediums, all forms of divination, George Osborne, author Anna Rice, stupid people generally and myself.

    In each case, I felt that my mockery was justified, and in each case anyone reading can decide if I'm right, or if it's me that's being the idiot.

    PS: That list is not complete. That's just those that I can remember right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hm...I see what you mean, Eddie...I agree both that some things deserve mocking, and that holding them up for scrutiny is a public service, but I rather think that all the things you mock are actually stronger than you are by reason of either their numbers or their celebrity.

      Um...except for when you mock yourself, obviously.

      I can now hear the dreadful sound of my theory falling into irreparable ruin.

      Ah well, that's what comes of being a philosophical pygmy, isn't it.

      Delete
    2. Nah, nah! Sally Prue's theory lies in irreparable ruin!

      (PS: Please add Sally Prue to my above list)

      Delete
    3. Too late - I was already on there. Twit!

      Delete