Saturday, January 05, 2019

Laced and laden

Of all the ways in which Rashida Tlaib's lone Very Naughty Word has been transformed into a basketful, the Freep's "expletive-studded" (at right) looks like it's farthest from the mark. Here's the OED on "studded":

Containing a number of objects or features placed or occurring at intervals. Chiefly with modifying word: strewn or punctuated with a specified object or feature.

Since one motherfucking sparrow doth not strew a summer, no. Somebody wasn't paying attention.

Points to the Freep, though, for calling out a Trump lie:

"I think she dishonored herself and she dishonored her family, using language like that in front of her son and whoever else was there. I thought it was highly disrespectful."

Tlaib's office didn't respond to Trump's remarks, though it confirmed that neither of her son,* who are 13 and 7, were present at the event when she made the comments. 

"Laced" and "laden" seem to be much more common misinterpretations:
The NYT's print hed has less space, but the text manages to get "exuberant, expletive-laden" above the fold:
And full marks to the Times for printing the Magic Word itself:
Broadly, I'm inclined to put "expletive-laden" in that category of terms that journalists reach for automatically, whether or not they've looked closely enough to see if the thing they're getting breathless over actually happened: like "limped into port," to borrow one of the Magic Phrases of Journalism, or anything having to do with bluegrass, anywhere. For the record, here's what an "expletive-laden rant" looked like to Fox last weekend:

Cardi defended Patientce in a since-deleted Instagram video (via In Touch), telling her followers, "That’s my b—h, that's my homegirl, and matter [of] fact, I am mad at Patientce. Wanna know why I'm mad at Patientce? Cause she should've spit in that f–king lady's face. That's why. So don't f—king tell me about my b—h, that's my b—h. And she's been doing a great f–king job and I thank her every single f–king day. Thank you."

"Laden," of course, means "loaded"; the two examples in the Merriam-Webster usage dictionary use noncount nouns ("wisdom" and "disquiet"), but they're pretty clearly in nontrace amounts. "Laced" is a bit trickier; I think of "rum-laced" as "LOADS AND LOADS of rum," but I suppose I could see a case in which "laced coffee" might be just a drop or two. Still, editors and writers would do well to avoid reaching into the cliche bag here; it's careless, sure, but it's the kind of carelessness that's hard to distinguish from stereotyping. If you aren't prepared to demonstrate that Rashida Tlaib has a lower lading capacity than your standard white Protestant college football coach, might as well not stick a paper clip in that particular light socket.

* This might be a War on Editing first: the typo is in the online version, but not in print.

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