Monday, January 09, 2012

diction error

I love journalists. They often provide me with the most amusing errors. Here's one:

Romney shirked the fire of his rivals with confidence and a cool composition, his feathers seemingly unruffled.

I'd be tempted to say that shirked is problematic, since the writer probably meant shrugged off-- i.e., Romney was hit, but the hits didn't affect him. But shirked is barely passable, since it can mean dodge or avoid. Still, such a usage of shirk doesn't sit well with me, since it's a word I associate with concepts like duty and responsibility. In the above sentence, Romney is implied to be "shirking" barbs and accusations, not duty or responsibility.

The real diction problem, though, is the word composition. The proper term is composure.


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