Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Merriam Webster Got it Wrong

Our language is complex and at times hard to understand, especially for foreigners. But those of us who learned American English in school and can say that English is our first language and we have no problem with it, right?


At least once a day I find evidence of the deterioration of our language or at least our understanding thereof. And many of these errors can be found by reading the newspaper of your choice.

Now to be fair some of these errors are done on purpose as when the opponents to a health care reform initiative was given the label, "Death Panels." This is obviously false and even those who perpetrated the lie upon the unsuspecting public knew that.

But the problem is all pervasive.

And Webster's dictionary is not alone. Abraham Lincoln is attributed with the statement that, "You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time." (President Bush had a somewhat better quote but...)

Today a convicted criminal is being released from prison on Long Island. That is not really Earth shattering news but the circumstances are interesting. You see Frank Tassone was convicted of stealing millions of dollars from the school board of Roslyn for which he was the chief at the time. He was also complicit in the scam that allowed others to rape the system as well.

He was given a sentence with a minimum term and went off to an extended stay at the Hale Creek facility in upstate New York.

He paid much if not all of the money back but many others have not. To this day the Roslyn school district is out money that was earmarked for our children's education. I must assume that one of the words those schoolchildren would learn was minimum.

Mr. Tassone is being released more than 8 months earlier than his minimum sentence! The reason given for this earlier than minimum amount of time served according to law is, "Good Behavior."

And by the way while he was in prison and now that he is out he will continue to receive his State pension that amounts to over $14,500 PER MONTH! So one could say the fraud for which he serving time is not his only crime.

His original crime was one where he fooled people to steal money. Obviously he fooled the parole board now. Lucky for the public that he is now out of jail and can start fooling people again.

It is a slippery slope upon which we travel. When the words we use do not mean what the listener or reader expects it means one of two things; the speaker is trying to fool us or is a politician!

Either way we are in trouble.

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