Thursday, November 10, 2011

Even Ron Paul Does It

Confuse two similar words, that is:

"That is arrogant," Paul said of Obama frequently using the executive order function as of late. "It is flaunting the Constitution and the whole principle of how we’re supposed to operate. The idea they can just do this and take over the legislative function and brag about it -- and Congress does nothing and the courts do nothing about it, it's very, very bad."

Rep. Paul meant to use the word flout:


1 : to treat with contemptuous disregard : scorn
2 : to indulge in scornful behavior


Shawn gets annoyed by pedestrians who flout traffic laws by crossing the street outside of the crosswalk.


Watch out when using "flaunt" and "flout." Critics have been complaining about the confusion of these two words since the early 1900s. "Flaunt" means "to display ostentatiously," and most usage commentators consider it an error to use "flaunt" with the meaning "to treat with contemptuous disregard" (even though some admit to doing it themselves). Many educated writers have used "flaunt" in the "flout" sense for years, but the notoriety of the controversy is so great, and the belief that it's wrong to use "flaunt" for "flout" is so deep-seated, that we think you would do best to keep the two words distinct.
(via Merriam-Webster Online.


wally said...

I think I get it now: grammar corrections are only elitist when liberals do it.

Bob said...

@wally: I never said anything about grammar corrections being elitist. The grammar Nazi is a recognized subset of the internet troll phenomenon. I accused you of it because your argument in the Presidential golf post seemed incredibly weak, thus you felt it necessary to "take me down a notch" by pointing out a grammar error. As the Wikipedia article I linked pointed out, editorial use of [sic] (which is a public pointing out of error) is often misused for ridicule purposes; and, by some strange coincidence, it's used more often on conservative/right-wing speakers and writers than it is on liberal/left-wing writers (additionally, I think that leftist editors sometimes "clean up" a fellow leftist's bad grammar/spelling without being asked, as an ideological courtesy).

In the current case, although I'm pointing out a usage error that Ron Paul made, I have no expectation of him ever noticing it (it's unlikely he or any of his people read my blog, after all) so it falls into the realm of education, i.e., I'm showing my readers an example of an incorrect usage. I'm not pointing it out to score points off of Ron Paul or otherwise tear him down. The Merriam-Webster link I provided, after all, says that the flout/flaunt error is so common that many people aren't aware of it.

Finally, since I don't recall advertising for an editor, your pointing out my minor lapses publicly is neither welcome nor appreciated.

wally said...

Fair enough. I'll refrain from pointing out your grammar errors in the future.

I will, however, take issue with your arrogant assumption that you know what was motivating me. As I recall, I pointed out that, contrary to your implication, the facts show that Obama hasn't spent a greater percentage of his time on vacation than other recent presidents. Why on earth would I think that was an incredibly weak argument?