Sunday Semantic Snobbery

The proofreaders at the New York Times apparently failed columnist Ross Douthat today. I began reading his column, The Christian Penumbra, this morning but could proceed no further than the second sentence.

He opened with a common redundancy. “Here is a seeming paradox of American life.”

Now, a paradox is a seeming contradiction. One already refers to the apparently contradictory character of a state of affairs by calling it a paradox. “Seeming paradox” is a redundancy (a seeming seeming contradiction?). For this, we should report Mr. Douthat to the Department of Redundancy Department.

Dismissing this mistake with a condescending roll of the eyes, I kept reading. “One the one hand, there is a broad social-science correlation between religious faith and various social goods . . .”

This was too much.

While I was partially intrigued by the social critique Douthat offered, I was too distracted by the misspelling that initiated his second sentence to continue.

Do they not employ proofreaders!? Was I reading the New York Times or the Bloom Picayune!?

2 thoughts on “Sunday Semantic Snobbery

  1. Andrew T.

    I thought I read somewhere that newspapers publish articles at a literacy level equivalent to grade 9. (I went looking for this quote, but couldn’t find it).

    If true, the answer is obvious: Newspapers don’t because they have a standard to keep.

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