Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Red Queen's 'off with her prefix'

On the model of the scholars over at the Log, perhaps we should just call these WTF heds, for such is the sentiment they summon:

Aw, c'mon. As long as we're turning trademarks into verbs ("he Kleenexed his nose after the editor Louisville Sluggered his anecdotal lede"), at least let the poor mutant form repose in front of the noun it allegedly now modifies. Or is another cell of the Unseen Hand Club at work here?

SooEEEEEY! The verb you want is "recall." Not "call." Much as "to remember" doesn't mean "to member again," "recall" isn't some redundant form of "call" that the hed writer can dismember at will. A note from the OED suggests the boundaries:
In English formations, whether on native or Latin bases, re- is almost exclusively employed in the sense of ‘again’; the few exceptions to this have been directly suggested by existing Latin compounds, as recall after L. revocare.
Once again: No playing Red Queen with the big type. You can't toss in a word and declare that it means what you want it to. Some of your poor readers might think that decision has already been made.



Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

And here I was looking forward to eating in "meat in N.C." next time I wanted a good roast.

7:45 PM, October 16, 2007  
Anonymous Bob L. said...

Love the article. Love the blog (and read it faithfully). But there are some Carrollian details amiss -- on a blog very concerned with details. So: Although the Red Queen does get into a bit of wordplay with Alice in "Through the Looking Glass," the one who decides that the words mean whatever he wants them to mean is Humpty Dumpty: "The question is which is to be master -- that's all." "Off with her head" is said by the Queen of Hearts in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." Small details, to be sure, but there are those who love them.

7:17 PM, October 17, 2007  
Blogger fev said...

Well, thanks -- and at this point, apologies for having meant to add a note and then forgetting for six months (long first year, and all that). I appreciate your attention to detail, and in trying to stretch the "White Rabbit" hed, I may have stretched things inappropriately.

But maybe not too much: Remember what the dormouse said!

11:31 PM, May 16, 2008  

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