‘Bout time the dictionary caught up

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who had already won many of our hearts by being the first publicly atheist leader of a major English-speaking nation, really proved her mettle among those on our side of the Great Rift last week-ish when she delivered this speech in Parliament, seizing on Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s hypocritical attempts to paint HER as a misogynist.

(old link, which is region-locked: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfo3SGIiSE0 )

But then, because she’s a damned important public figure using the word “misogyny” the way it is commonly understood by feminists for at least thirty years, e.g. to mean “conscious or unconscious systematic biases or bigotries against women” rather than “tooth-gnashing caricatures of Yosemite Sam screaming ‘Ah hate those wimminz!’”, the public discussion has had an interesting side-effect. Since this discussion largely centred around the meaning of the word, and since the antifeminist quarters’ main defense against the charge is dumbfounded astonishment that anyone would ever mistake them for someone with a “hatred” of women, this has led to something practically unheard-of in recent times: a dictionary stepping in to settle the argument.

In our favour.

Pardon me if I crow a bit.
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Humpty Dumpty on the meaning of words

Relevant to a discussion at Stephanie’s about whether to out a persistent and rather unsubtle troll so their meatspace acquaintances have a better understanding of what kind of viciousness he gets up to online, allowing them to protect themselves. It has, as most conversations do, meandered into an area related to the meanings of certain words. I was reminded of a passage in Through The Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll.

‘You don’t know what you’re talking about!’ cried Humpty Dumpty. ‘How many days are there in a year?’

‘Three hundred and sixty-five,’ said Alice.

‘And how many birthdays have you?’

‘One.’

‘And if you take one from three hundred and sixty-five, what remains?’

‘Three hundred and sixty-four, of course.’

Humpty Dumpty looked doubtful. ‘I’d rather see that done on paper,’ he said.

Alice couldn’t help smiling as she took out her memorandum-book, and worked the sum for him:

365
1
____

364
___

Humpty Dumpty took the book, and looked at it carefully. ‘That seems to be done right—’ he began.

‘You’re holding it upside down!’ Alice interrupted.

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