Elegaic, Word or Not?

Discuss word origins and meanings.

Re: Elegaic, Word or Not?

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Sep 13, 2016 2:46 am

At my time/space coordinates, elegiac registers "about 1,250,000 results" on Google (I quote), and elegaic scores 59,100 hits. That represents a ratio of slightly more than 21:1 of elegiac:elegaic, or just under 5% of hits for elegaic.

Even allowing for the waywardness of Google's search result totals, which is notorious, it seems to me that a fair-minded person could only conclude from this that the standard (i.e. generally accepted) spelling is elegiac.

Of course, you are free to believe whatever you want, but your collision with the statistical evidence suggests that neither of you can realistically expect your partisanship to convince many others to join you in your opinion.
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Re: Elegaic, Word or Not?

Post by Mr. MaGoo » Tue Sep 13, 2016 7:53 pm

I take issue with your scoring method. Assigning a single point to each hit is not a realistic methodology to me. For instance, Susan Sontag wrote a book called "The Elegaic Modernist." Susan Sontag is smart and writes books and I therefore think that the book she wrote is worth like at least 250,000 points given the position of intellectual authority she occupies.

https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Sontag-Mod ... 041590031X

Magoo
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Re: Elegaic, Word or Not?

Post by trolley » Tue Sep 13, 2016 8:22 pm

Actually, Susan Sontag wrote a book called "The Elegiac Modernist."
"Oh, Magoo. You've done it again...."
How many points is that worth, now?
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Re: Elegaic, Word or Not?

Post by Manateena » Tue Sep 13, 2016 9:12 pm

Sohnya Sayres wrote "The Elegiac Modernist". If Susan Sontag had written it, I might have conceded the points.

If "elegaic" makes an appearance in an NYT headline, I think it's fair to say that its usage is fairly common: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/13/arts/ ... grief.html

There's also this snippet from a NYT analysis of the movie Chinatown: "Gittes's assistant's ministering and pre-emptively elegaic ''Forget it, Jake; it's Chinatown.''

Elegaic/Elegiac? Forget it Jake; it's Chinatown. That's the consensus shared by my students and they generally prefer the pleasant ring of "elegaic" to "elegiac".
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Re: Elegaic, Word or Not?

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Sep 13, 2016 10:48 pm

Even the sub-editors of The New York Times fail to catch a typo now and again.

But as I say: believe what you want — it's no skin off my nose. I've pointed out the misapprehension you are labouring under, and after that it's up to you to make of it what you will.
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Re: Elegaic, Word or Not?

Post by Mr. MaGoo » Tue Sep 13, 2016 11:01 pm

There is no misapprehension. You said yourself that there was a common usage exception and that is what we have here. Elegaic is obviously the spelling choice of the erudite given that it is used both by the NYT and Ms. Sontag. Your only defense is a biased scoring system that gives Joe Schmoe the same weight and consideration as Ms. Sontag.

Elegaic is word. It's just not a word for everybody.

Magoo
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Re: Elegaic, Word or Not?

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Sep 14, 2016 1:10 am

Mr. Magoo: Susan Sontag wasn't a lexicographic goddess whose every literary burp and fart set the standard for the English language like some kind of modern-day Samuel Johnson. She was just as capable as the rest of us of making a spelling mistake or putting a comma in the wrong place. Same goes for the folks at The New York Times.

I've already conceded that the Google stats are not unimpeachable, but a discrepancy in prevalence of the two spellings in question that amounts to a couple of orders of magnitude is hard to ignore.

However, it is the fact that no professionally edited dictionary includes the spelling which you appear to be willing to go the barricades for that is far more telling than your discovery of the same typo being coincidentally committed by a well-known author and a prominent newspaper.

And as far as I'm concerned, that is
THE END
of this discussion.
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Re: Elegaic, Word or Not?

Post by Mr. MaGoo » Wed Sep 14, 2016 6:16 am

The end of this discussion is actually down there where it says 'fin' not up there where you thought it was.

fin

Magoo
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End of topic.
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