Regime and ilk

Discuss word origins and meanings.
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Regime and ilk

Post by NogaNote » Wed Sep 19, 2007 2:49 am

I wonder if I'm correct in my impression that these two words have taken on a certain darkness of meaning which was not there before. The dictionary provides emotionally and ethically neutral meanings to both. Yet most people use them to denote that dictionary meaning + a certain lurch into the pejorative. Thus, when the Bush administration is called The Bush Regime, it invariably suggests that the writer is hinting at some totalitarian/fascist quality. When people use "ilk", they usually mean something like "birds of a feather" which definitely carries a condemnatory undertone.

I'm wondering because I read someone's comment using "ilk", and when I inquired as to why the implied disrespect, the writer was surprised at my question, since he meant nothing of the kind. The inflection, however, is there in most of the times I've seen this word used, though it has not yet made it into the dictionaries. Or has it? Does anybody know?
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Post by tony h » Wed Sep 19, 2007 12:07 pm

I tend to agree with you. I then looked up the words in a thesaurus and came to the conclusion that all such words seem to perjorative aspect to them - although none was defined as such.

I wonder whether, in today's society, we look on all groups, however defined, as being less well motivated, less free and inferior to the rest of society.
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Post by Bobinwales » Wed Sep 19, 2007 12:21 pm

It is probably worth remembering, or not depending on your interest, that "of that Ilk" is a Scottish title.
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Wed Sep 19, 2007 3:06 pm

Noga, I’m with you. In my experience, I don’t believe I have ever heard ILK used when it wasn’t derogatory (although it may appear that way, for example, in journal articles on animal studies, etc.). And one would be hard pressed to find many examples in newspapers, magazines, etc, that weren’t. However, some dictionaries do comment that it is often derogatory. And every dictionary example I found was derogatory even when it wasn’t defined that way. (e.g. American Heritage Dictionary — Type or kind: “can't trust people of that ilk.”)
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Merriam-Websters Unabridged Dictionary

ILK noun: :Family, sort, kind often disparagingly <“determinists, materialists, agnostics, behaviorists and their ilk”—John Dewey>
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Garner’s Modern American Usage

ILK

Meaning. Originally, this Scottish term meant “the same:; hence of that ilk meant “of that same [place, territory or name]” . . . By extension during the 19th century—from a misunderstanding of the Scottish use—ilk came to mean “type” or “sort”<“Joseph McCarthy and his ilk”>. Because there is little call outside Scotland for the original sense, the extended use must now be accepted as standard. . . . .

Connotation. The word’s accepted definition is hardly defamatory. But the word increasingly conveys derogatory connotations (perhaps from sound association with the expletive ick?)—“The book wrestles with the excruciating ethical dilemmas facing America . . . in battling Osama bin Laden and his ilk" in ‘Duty Bound’ by Jean Bethke Elshtain, Washington Post book review, page T4
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As far as REGIME goes, I had never given it any thought, but I think you are right there also. Bush regime certainly has a non-neutral flavor as opposed to say ‘Bush tenure’ or ‘Bush administration.’ It is interesting to note that when I did a newspaper archive search, and this is very crude, but I think it might still tell us something, for the ‘Reagan regime’ I got on the order of 300 hits, ‘Bush regime’ [the senior], 150 hits, ‘Clinton regime,’ 500 hits, ‘Bush regime [the lesser],’ over 4000 (and he isn’t even out of office yet). Some might argue that there is more news coverage today than in yesteryear, but probably not by a factor of 8 since the Clinton administration. And I don’t think the number of newspapers and their circulations have increased since then, in fact, they have probably decreased as many newspapers have folded; on the other hand, online coverage (e.g. CNN, FOX etc.) may have increased. But in scanning these hits, the vast majority still appeared to be standard paper print (New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Guardian, etc). So I’ve got the feeling that this apparent increase is significant and that it does tell us something about how the Bush administration [the lesser] has been and is being perceived.
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Ken G – September 19, 2007
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Post by RegMonkey » Tue Sep 25, 2007 11:15 am

Bob in Wales is correct. Here in Scotland "Of that Ilk" is a form of title, generally for the head of a clan. For example, "Moncreiffe of that ilk".
Not seen as derogatory at all here.
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Post by tony h » Tue Sep 25, 2007 1:32 pm

Reg,

quite agree. But "of that Ilk" has a different tenor to "and his ilk".

And who was it that wrote:

The Laird of Ilk spent Hogmanay in declaring he was sober,
he counted his feet to prove the fact and found he was one foot over.
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Post by Bobinwales » Tue Sep 25, 2007 2:26 pm

He would not have minded if he had had a leg over, Tony.

Sorry, Tony
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Post by russcable » Tue Sep 25, 2007 2:29 pm

Is there a comma missing from that sentence?
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Sep 25, 2007 2:35 pm

For the definitive answer to that question, I think we should check with Tony.
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Post by Bobinwales » Wed Sep 26, 2007 9:00 am

Amazing the difference a comma makes. I thought I had put one in; that will teach me to read what I write.
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Post by tony h » Wed Sep 26, 2007 11:08 am

I can't comment about the Laird's view, but I would much prefer the comma to be in place.
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Post by hsargent » Wed Sep 26, 2007 2:10 pm

Regime to me means a long term. I don't think of a Presidential term as a regime since there is a planned end.

Regime to me might imply parliamentary forms of government and Prime Ministers because the term is indefinite.

Royal offices and dictators have regimes.
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Post by daverba » Fri Sep 28, 2007 10:50 pm

Pejoration - The linguistic process of a word gradually becoming more negative in meaning or connotation over time.
“silly” (originally meant “blessed”) < OE gesælig “blessed”
“mean” (originally meant “common”) < OE gemæne “common”
“fate” (originally meant “prophecy, prediction”) < L. fari “to speak”

Melioration - The linguistic process of a word gradually becoming more positive in meaning or connotation over time.
“nice” (originally meant “simple, ignorant”) < L. nescius “ignorant”
“paradise” (originally meant “enclosed park”) ultimately < Gk. paradeisos “(walled) garden”
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