Tuesday, December 28, 2010

refudiate, the word that won't die

Thanks in no small measure to the Oxford University Press naming refudiate its Word Of The Year plus The Daily Dish rekindling its favorite topic, we have a new round of he-said-she-said to deal with. Made famous by Sarah Palin this past summer (see Liberman's original post here, and others here), it is yet again the object of speculation as to why Palin used the form to begin with.

Palin herself poured fuel on this fire two days ago by tweeting that it was a typo. Liberman thinks that explanation didn't hold water the first time around because she first said it aloud on teevee: the original example [on teevee] wasn't a slip of the tongue, but a symptom of the fact that Ms. Palin had a blend of repudiate and refute as a well-established entry in her mental lexicon [note added].

Why the fuss? There's nothing particularly interesting or telling about the linguistic blending of repudiate and refute. Everyone does this kind of thing now and again and sometimes it sticks. Some people like to beat up on public figures any time they can, so something like this is a target. But the more serious speculation is that the Palin Camp's public responses expose something important about Sarah Palin's inner circle and consultation. I'll leave it to the political pundits to fight that one out.

For now,

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