Midweek Semantic Snobbery

I’m a conservative when it comes to language.  I recognize that language is always changing, but I’d rather respect conventions than capitulate to what I see as misuses of language, failures to communicate properly.

Even when I text, I use actual words, complete sentences, and I do not abbreviate.

I say, “thank you,” and not, “thx.”  I text, “no problem, that’s fine,” and not, “k.”  I write, “I’ll see you later,” and not, “ttyl.”

Upon the commencement of my academic career, I was stunned that administrators—supposedly educated people—insisted on using “resource” as a verb.

“We will resource our faculty for teaching excellence,” one would say.  Another administrator told our department that he wanted to resource us.

I looked around the room, expecting howls of protest.

At the time, our institution was being rocked by controversy and I thought that people were taking themselves far too seriously.  I wrote one of the offending administrators a playful e-mail confronting his semantic shoddiness.  I inquired whether his willingness to use “resource” as a verb was a sign of worldview compromise and potential doctrinal drift.

The humor escaped him entirely.

Now, I’m prepared to imagine that there may be something wrong with administrators.  To faculty, of course, they are “The Dark Side.”  Perhaps they inhabit some alternative linguistic world, one filled with “actionable” items, where nouns and verbs trade places willy-nilly.

Surely scholars, on the other hand, know better—especially those in the humanities.

My jaw dropped the other day, however, when I opened N. T. Wright’s new book on the Gospels.  The very first paragraph of the book—the first paragraph!—ends with this sentence:

Yes, they’re about the beginnings of what later became known as Christianity, but what are they saying about that strange new movement, and how do they resource it for its life and work?

Simply staggering.

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15 responses to “Midweek Semantic Snobbery

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