Sarah Palin Refudiates Critics
Has Sarah Palin had the last laugh on the bunch of pointy heads and folks from the lame stream media who poked fun at her malapropism after she used the word “refudiate” in July 2010? Has she scored a linguistic victory over China, even?
Palin modestly compared herself to Shakespeare noting that he was well known for coining new words too. However, she did eventually own up to being mistaken comparing her misuse of a word to a “Bushism”. But she should have told everyone not to "misundersetimate me" since on November 15 “refudiate” was hailed as the dictionary’s word of the year.
On July 19, a Guardian blog had lamented that Palin had not consulted the Guardian’s style guide where its entry on refute says: "Use this much abused word only when an argument is disproved; otherwise contest, deny, rebut." Daily Writing Tips too tries to warn its readers of the perils of confusing “rebut” and “refute”. Palin was clearly on hazardous ground when trying to rally New Yorkers to support her position and, dare-I-say, rebuff her opponents.
In August I’d looked at the Chinese Daily online after hearing about it from a friend teaching English as a Second Language in China. It seemed that Sarah had a strange bed-fellow since the newspaper too had obviously ignored the Guardian’s style guide by writing: "Chinese Experts Rebute Pentagon Cyber Report." (The article that was linked to the headline mysteriously disappeared from the paper's website only hours after this article was posted. The link is now to the paper in the event any readers are curious about what one of the most prominent Chinese newspapers take is on the news. A few hours later: The headline has reappeared on the Chinese Daily's site; this time the spelling has been corrected! However, my congratulations to the paper, along with four other comments remain unedited, can be accessed through the comments link and are worth a quick read in themselves.)
I had to write a congratulatory letter to the Editor and said the headline introduced the interesting word "rebute”. I went on to make the point that if a word is readily adopted in print, it will eventually end up in a dictionary.
I’d worried that my comment might be regarded as critical of an editor or flippant rather than a congratulatory but slightly humorous comment on a word that expressed a subtle shade of meaning that is not properly incorporated in any other existing word. (I thought it a worthy competitor to Sarah's contribution to the language but kept this to myself.)
My fears of censorship were unfounded, and the letter eventually appeared on their website sounding a slightly odd note among comments that loudly complained of American hegemony.
”Rebute”, hasn’t caught on in the way I’d hoped to warm our relationship with China whereas “refudiate” has made it into the Oxford American Dictionary. In the war of words it’s Palin: 1 and China: 0. Given the political climate in the U.S., I’m surprised that more hasn’t been made of Sarah’s victory.
Normal human politicians would have thought that their political careers ended prior to the dawning of 2011 after Palin-like gaffes; however, Sarah, unfazed, continues to refudiate her critics necessitating this update to an article originally written in early December 2010.
On February 17, Palin, answered questions posed by the by Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association, before some one thousand people. She didn't rule out being a presidential candidate. When asked to describe the profile of an ideal candidate, her inimitable if slightly predictable response, reported in The Boulder Weekly, was that she would be a mother with experience in both politics and business — such as herself. It's the kind of rhetoric that makes her supporters love her, her critics see red and comedic writers green.
Despite the the slightly humorous tone attempted while writing about Ms. Palin, I've always felt that both Democrats and pundits have consistently underrated her chances of running as the Republican presidential candidate in 2012.
Keep watching this space. She's refudiated her critics before and might well do so again!