With the news of the past week even more scary and depressing than what has become normal, I find myself focusing on what I know much more about than the very complicated crisis in the Middle East: the English language. Words matter. Thus, when I can bear to watch the news, I find myself yelling at the President—not my usual “Are you out of your mind?”—but rather: “The word is ‘imminent,’ not ‘eminent.’” [NOTE: Not that I am certain anything was “imminent,” but I’m darn sure eminence is not involved.]
Definitions from the Oxford Dictionary
Imminent: adjective; about to happen (ex: “They were in imminent danger of being swept away.”)
Eminent: adjective (of a person) famous and respected within a particular sphere or profession (ex: “ one of the world’s most eminent statisticians.”)
Words matter. Isn’t it eminently reasonable to expect our elected officials to speak proper English? Is it too much to ask that our pumpkin-hued leader know the difference between “origins” and “oranges?” and “eminent” and “imminent?” Or is it simply less frightening to focus on the words rather than the actions.
Have a linguistically correct week!