Pointless Peeve

| On
Friday, December 09, 2005
Decimate. It does not mean to destroy completely, it means to reduce by 1/10th. Those ever efficient (and practical) Romans would kill one in ten men in legions that had committed mutiny. As far as I know, hurricanes aren't quite that precise, nor are ex-girlfriends, ghosts, or other natural disasters. I'm not suggesting that decimate should only be used in reference to Roman discipline, I just wish that it hadn't strayed (so close but so far) from its original, precise meaning. I wouldn't even mention it, but I have had many jabbings right in the peeve lately. The two most recent examples: the ghosty book I just finished, and and OK Go song Invincible - (rock star word nerd Damian Kulash, how could you?)

What makes this peeve even more pointless: the english language is in a constant state of flux. I usually think this is cool (except when GW "nucular" B does it). I'm no prescriptivist - I get a little sad that some interesting, beautiful words have fallen out of use (hence my Decemberists love) - but I'm not pulling my hair out about the decline of the language. The real pointless pointlessness of my decimate peeve is that I never even thought about it ONCE until I read about it. What's up with that? I think this one bugs me because the ten-ness of it is built right in. Decimate. Decimal, decibel, decade and so on! It means some measure of TEN. TEN IS CLEARLY INVOLVED!! If we no longer used any deci-ten words, I think I could let it go, but man. We totally still do!
1 comment on "Pointless Peeve"
  1. hahahaha, i love this. and when you think ahout it it does seem so clear. hindsight is always 20/20 right? Apparently.


Klik the button below to show emoticons and the its code
Hide Emoticon
Show Emoticon