Magazine article Communication World

Recall the Stigma of Stigmatism, and That Those Pincers Is.Or Sometimes Are. (Wood on Words)

Magazine article Communication World

Recall the Stigma of Stigmatism, and That Those Pincers Is.Or Sometimes Are. (Wood on Words)

Article excerpt

Best comparison heard in the palindromic year just gone by: "Slower than a slug in a glue pot." (Due credit to radio station WRKO Boston, USA.)

But fair is fair, and it was an RKO commentator who opined, "Everyone in America knows there is a stigmatism attached (to politicians) from Massachusetts." Close, but the cheroot eludes. Listen up! Stigmatism means "the condition of being affected by stigmata." Stigmata is a plural of stigma. Noun stigma signifies "A mark or token of infamy, disgrace, or reproach. 2) a small mark; a scar or birthmark ...."

Stigma works, and should replace stigmatism, which may also mean "normal eyesight." One will wager that most listeners heard astigmatism--a kind of visual defect--and totally lost sight of whatever the message was supposed to be.

And the mention of a scar (just above) calls to mind a solecism uttered by U.S. TV news anchor Tom Brokaw in early November: Said Mr. B., "For many, the scars have not healed."

Scars do not heal; wounds heal...leaving scars. > Beverly Jurkowski, who collects a paycheck as manager of organizational communications for We Energies, Milwaukee, USA, e-mailed this workstation recently to ask "Have you ever done a piece on the inappropriate use of significant and significantly? Drives me nuts to see usage of significant when the writer/speaker really means big or large." I said no, and our colleague kindly sent along the following:

"Somewhere in our common usage--the likely culprits probably worked in corporate settings--the word significant became synonymous with large, huge, considerable, big, etc.

"All too often I read or hear sentences where significant and significantly are used when the writer means large.... Are other editors as disturbed? Here's an example, from Stages magazine, published by Fidelity Investments, Boston:

"'Cassise has been more conservative with his investments in recent years, moving a significant portion of his retirement assets into a conservative investment option, which has provided modest but steady returns....'

"My American Heritage Dictionary says significant really means having or expressing a meaning, meaningful. Perhaps Mr. Cassise's actions were meaningful, but my guess is that the writer really meant that this gentleman moved a large portion of his assets. …

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