or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Bottom of the Deck

I think it's fair to say I'm a liberal. Reproductive rights, gay marriage, separation of church and state? All good things. War, unrestrained corporatism, social Darwinism? Not so good.

Therefore, it's also fair to say I'm not a fan of Michelle Malkin, a right-wing commentator who aspires to be Ann Coulter some day (a scary thought). But I'm not interested in talking about her politics, at least not here and now: I'm more interested in a clumsy if not downright dim-witted error on her blog:

The bombing suspect images .Metro Police transcript and images.
Josh Trevino on the Muslim Council of Britain's grievance-mongerers."


A monger (the word comes from Latin "mango", "slave-dealer") is someone who either deals in a commodity ("fishmonger") or promotes or indulges in something unsavoury ("scandalmonger", "whoremonger"). It doesn't mean "one who mongs" (although "mong" arose as a back-formation), and even if it did, "mongerer" would be self-evidently wrong, just as "dealerer" would be. You see anyone use "mongerer", you go ahead and smirk at them for me.

(Latin "mango", "slave-dealer", and English "mango", "fruit of the mango tree", are, predictably enough, absolutely unrelated. The name for the fruit comes into English from Tamil through Portuguese.)


Blogger Frank said...

You know, I see "mongerer" all the time. I admit, I've probably used it a few times. I never knew it was wrong. Thanks, pyramus! What would I do without you?

Sunday, July 24, 2005 6:59:00 PM  
Blogger pyramus said...

Hey, I live to serve.

I know people make such mistakes all the time, and I don't--honest!--look down on them, unless I think they should know better and therefore set an example. And that's the crux of it: if you or I make such an error, that's nothing, because it affects nobody, whereas if a syndicated columnist does so, she looks stupid and uninformed to those in the know, and she spreads ignorance to everyone else. Even if she doesn't realize that "mongerer" isn't correct, her editors ought to know better (assuming she has editors and we don't).

Sunday, July 24, 2005 8:23:00 PM  

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