Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Other People Say Smart Stuff, Too - Part XXXIV

John Ransom has written another column whose title spells it all out: "15 Questions the Mainstream Media Would Ask Barack Obama If He Were a Republican." Some samples:

  • In 2010 you said Solyndra, which gave your campaign a lot of money, was "leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future." Today, Solyndra is bankrupt and the taxpayers lost $500 million on loans that your administration was well aware might never be paid off when you made them. What do you say to people who say this is evidence of corruption in your administration?
  • Unions invested a lot of time and money in helping to get you elected. In return, they gained majority control of Chrysler, the taxpayers lost 14 billion dollars on General Motors, and General Motors received a special 45 billion dollar tax break. What do you say to people who view this as corruption on a scale never before seen in American history?
  • How do you decide which foreign leaders to submissively bow towards and why do you think that's appropriate for an American President?
  • If they could, don't you think the Nobel Committee would take back the Nobel Peace Prize that you were awarded?
You get the gist.  Read the column.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The case against "mentee"

The word mentor derives from Greek mythology.  When Odysseus left to fight in the Trojan War, he left his friend Mentor in charge of Odysseus’s son Telemachus.  When the goddess Athena visited Telemachus, she took the form of Mentor and advised him to resist the advice of others and to go in search of his father.

In modern usage, a mentor is an advisor and teacher to another person, usually someone younger and less experienced.  In other words, we are calling that person the name of the historical Mentor, just as we call someone who gives presents a “Secret Santa,” or a smaller person (or company, etc.) going against a much larger entity a “David” going against a “Goliath.”

The backformation word mentee treats the word mentor, with its –or ending, as if it means “one who ments.” Thus a mentee would be “one who is mented.” This is clearly not the case. Although a contractor is one who contracts (for a particular job,) an author is not one who “auths.”  Employers employ employees, detainers detain detainees, but mentors do not ment mentees.

There exists a perfectly good word for the role of someone who a mentor mentors – protégé.  The dictionary defines protégé as “a person under the patronage, protection or care of someone interested in his career or welfare.”  In other words, the exact description of one who has a mentor.

It takes the twisted mind of a sociopath or a bureaucrat to create a horrendous, misbegotten atrocity and encourage its use to replace a lovely, useful, and faithful word such as protégé.  Those who repeat the process are just as guilty of verbal crimes against humanity as the creator (with its –or ending.) For the sake of your soul, use the correct word.

Friday, January 13, 2012

I thought I'd got sick of these things

1. I'm not a Justin Bieber fan.
2. Over-choreographed wedding dances have used up their freshness.
3. Too many people these days want to video themselves, purely to feed their ego.
Having said all that, this one is kind of neat.