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PEDANTIC

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PEDANTIC

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:49 pm

• pedantic •


Pronunciation: pê-dæn-tik • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Paying undue attention to petty, irrelevant details, characterized by nit-picking, especially in teaching. 2. Flaunting education or erudition, pretending to be more highly educated than is the case.

Notes: Today's adjective is derived from the noun pedant which originally meant simply "teacher", but has since come to refer to teachers pejoratively. Pedantry is what keeps the pedant going from one pedantism (act or show of pedantry) to another. Should pedants gain control of the government, we would be governed by a pedantocracy. The political philosopher John Stuart Mill argued (On Liberty 1869) that governments must comprise people of all occupations ". . . if we would not have our bureaucracy degenerate into a pedantocracy." Apparently John Stuart was OK with bureaucracy.

In Play: The first sense of today's Good Word refers to a kind of pedagogical nit-picking: "I think it would be pedantic to specify how many buttons may be on shirts under the new dress code." The other side of today's word refers to someone too taken with their own education: "Sandy Eggo has been talking like a pedantic know-it-all since receiving her PhD in psychology."

Word History: Today's Good Word used to be French pédant, possibly from Vulgar (Street) Latin paeden(t)s, which would have been the present participle of paedere "to instruct". Although we have no written evidence of such a word, pédant came from somewhere and Greek had a verb paideuein "to bring up, raise, educate", based on pai(d)s "child". Latin often borrowed from Greek. We find several words beginning with P that are probably related to the Greek word for "child": Latin puer "boy" and paucus "few, little", the origin of Spanish poco "small, little". Since Proto-Indo-European [p] became [f] in Germanic languages like English, these words are probably related to English few. (Today we thank the unpedantically erudite mind of David Ross for coming up with today's childish Good Word.)
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Re: PEDANTIC

Postby MTC » Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:53 am

“This is the sort of pedantry up with which I will not put”
-- Winston Churchill
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Re: PEDANTIC

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Oct 20, 2012 1:17 pm

Curious how that mysterious PIE influence so much.
Puer, Paucus, Few.
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Re: PEDANTIC

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:46 am

MTC: Where did you get the Churchill quotation? I have read many versions of it, and have never been able to find a verified quotation. Almost everybody believes he said it, but what exactly did he say.
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Re: PEDANTIC

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sun Oct 21, 2012 2:28 pm

That's the first I've seen pedantry in that quote. Almost always I've read it, "This is the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put." have no idea whether he ever wrote it himself, but it certainly sounds like something he would say and others record. Pedantry does fit well, though.
Last edited by Perry Lassiter on Sun Oct 21, 2012 5:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PEDANTIC

Postby Slava » Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:18 pm

Philip Hudson wrote:MTC: Where did you get the Churchill quotation? I have read many versions of it, and have never been able to find a verified quotation. Almost everybody believes he said it, but what exactly did he say.

You haven't been able to find a verified quotation because there isn't one. It is attributed to Churchill, but he likely never said it or wrote it anywhere.
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Re: PEDANTIC

Postby MTC » Sun Oct 21, 2012 6:22 pm

Here is the source which I obtained from the net before posting:

"Source: WINSTON CHURCHILL, marginal note after receiving a civil servants objection to the ending of a sentence with a preposition and the use of a dangling participle in official documents.Kay Halle, Irrepressible Churchill, p. 166 .In other versions of this anecdote, the word English is often used instead of pedantry."

(http://quotationsbook.com/quote/45308/)

Slava's remarked:
"(y)ou haven't been able to find a verified quotation because there isn't one. It is attributed to Churchill, but he likely never said it or wrote it anywhere."

Now prove what you said is correct, Slava. That means prove there is no "verified quotation," and prove that "he likely never said it or wrote it anywhere." You made two strong statements. Now back then up. The burden of proof and the burden of going forward with the evidence are on you. Detail your evidence (which I presume is verified,) and show us where on the net it can be found.
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Re: PEDANTIC

Postby Slava » Sun Oct 21, 2012 7:54 pm

"Verified quotation": if this is truly marginalia, it is in hard copy somewhere. Why has no one yet produced such?

The quote as given is lacking a word. Supposedly, the full version is "arrant pedantry." Or English, or nonsense. Thus leading to even more doubt as to its provenance.

Here is a piece on part of the history.

Here is another good discussion on the matter.

While I cannot prove a negative, I submit that the available information calls into serious doubt the attribution of this quotation to Winston Churchill.
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Re: PEDANTIC

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:57 pm

Henceforth I shall attribute this quote to the ubiquitous anonymous, aka anon. He's the fellow I respond with when asked who I'd most like to have dinner with! Imagine that conversation: the places we'd go and the things we would do!
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Re: PEDANTIC

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:21 am

Slava is right. Historical proof is rarely possible. But the pedantic line sounds like Churchill.
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Re: PEDANTIC

Postby MTC » Mon Oct 22, 2012 2:43 pm

Yes, little did I realize when I posted the quotation that I was stepping into a minor controversy, a tempest in a linguistic teapot. Researching the issues surrounding the quotation, I see they have been exhaustively explored by quoteinvestigator.com. at http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/07/04 ... eposition/
I think you will enjoy the article.
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