Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mysteries of the known universe

From my Mac's dictionary
(Part of a much larger document, which does not exist.)

1. The word “rubric,” which is hideous

My complaint is not so much that the word exists as that it is so often readily and enthusiastically adopted—especially among educators—as though it were some sort of orgasmic McGuffin*.

Cf. Ruprecht

*MacGuffin
     A man is riding on a train when a second gentleman gets on and sits down across from him. The first man notices the second is holding an oddly shaped package.
     "What is that?" the first man asks.
     "A MacGuffin, a tool used to hunt lions in the Scottish highlands."
     "But there are no lions in the Scottish highlands," says the first man.
     "Well then," says the other, "That's no MacGuffin".

5 comments:

Bob Cosgrove said...

"Rubric" is a word used by the Educational Testing Service when folks score AP exams; the University of California uses a "rubric" in scoring the AWPE (Analytical Writing Placement Exam) which students take to place into the UC's writing programs. Both AP and AWPE employ a guide for placing a paper in a scoring range: AP uses a 0-9 rubric range while AWPE employs a 1-6 range.

So we rubric away.

B. von Traven said...

Well, Sir Bob, I am at times forced to use it too. At such times, uttering it is a necessary evil--but an evil it remains.
It is the enthusiasm for this word that bothers me, really. I don't mind if it restricts itself to religious communities and such. I don't mind if it is used with regret and displeasure, as one might use, say, a pooper scooper or funds to make a campaign contribution.
In fact, if it is merely used, like a shoe or shovel, I can deal with it all day long. If, however, it thrills and uplifts the user owing to its vogue status (in, say, the special and earnest world of SLOs), it is akin to vomit. No, it is far less wholesome than vomit. I am sure of it.
I know: I am somewhat idiosyncratic about this. But I happen to know that there are others--people I admire and respect--who find the word repugnant, though I'm not sure the cause of their discomfort is similar to the cause of mine.
Surely, you, Sir Bob, can identify words that you loath sans an adequate account of the loathitude!

Anonymous said...

Well...if we're going to start naming examples in the "I am annoyed by..." department, here are a few candidates .....overused expressions, mostly by politicians, but by other folks too...

1. At the end of the day,.....

2. The reality is, ........

3. Going forward, .......

4. The truth is, .......

5. ..with this caveat .....

B. von Traven said...

A fine list, 10:19. I am especially annoyed by "at the end of the day." Also, when Brits say, "If you like." I don't like. (That's almost as bad as New Yorkers' "Can I be honest?")

Matthew Snope said...

"Rubric" is a good Philip Glass song, though. :)

Expressions I detest: "It is what it is." (rather meaningless tautology)
"Seriously?"
"Really?"
"I get it."

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