or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, August 17, 2008


In this recent Slate.com piece about Soviet Georgia, which does sound rather nice, "something like the Italy of the former Soviet Union," as author Ilan Greenberg calls it, is this sentence:

As Lincoln Mitchell, an assistant professor of politics at Columbia University who lived in the country for nearly a decade, is quick to point out, Georgia's light burnishes bright in a dark neighborhood.

"Burnish" is self-evidently supposed to be "burn" here, because "burnish" (which means "to make glossy by polishing") is a transitive verb, one which requires an object, which "bright", being an adjective, is not. What exactly did Greenberg think he was accomplishing by using the wrong word?

I mean, assuming, since he's a paid writer, that he did know it was the wrong word. And if he didn't, someone else should have, and that someone should have clapped eyes on the piece before I did. (And if that someone does exist--unlikely given the overall evidence at Slate--and they changed it from "burns" to "burnishes" because they thought it sounded classier somehow...but no, that doesn't even bear thinking about.)


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