Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The season's best political term?

A term that I'm sure the original utterer (Eric Fehrnstrom) now regrets having used: Etch-a-Sketch. The context is a discussion about the Romney campaign:

Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch-a-Sketch — you can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.

The idea that candidates "tack to the extremes during the primaries and then head for the center as the general election looms" (#) is hardly new. But candidates (or their advisors) don't normally say this out loud.

I think that the appeal of this term and its power as a metaphor is actually helping it spread. (Which works against Romney, obviously.) It makes a great headline:
It'll be interesting to see whether Etch-a-Sketch enters the political vocabulary the way that Swift boat and flip-flopper and dog-whistle did (among many others, of course). If all goes well linguistically (leaving politics entirely aside), perhaps the term will be a candidate for the annual Word of the Year.


Michael Gilbert-Koplow said...

Why did you sickify "adviser's"? Merriam-Webster (west of the pond) explicitly prefers it (relegating "advisor" to "also" status). The OED (from east of the pond, but universal) has full entries for both "adviser" and "advisor." Def. 1 of "advisor" is witness, a usage the OED labels both obsolete and rare. Def. 2 is "= adviser n. 1 (in various senses)." It isn't obvious from this that OED prefers "adviser," but it certainly doesn't consider it eccentric or "variant."

I still have two questions, only one of which you can answer. First, why didn't the OED just include "advisor" in its "adviser" entry, specifying that in the sense of witness only "advisor" was used. Second, even if "advisor" were the clear preference, why would you sic "adviser"?

Michael Koplow said...

Sorry. I meant to comment using this link instead.

Michael Koplow said...

This is embarrassing. This one.

WordzGuy said...

"sic" removed.