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  • a 'key' to 'maverick' is an oxymoron - more larky

    December 12, 2008

  • Sorry, mollusque. I didn't notice the date on the Scottoline citation. It's interesting that the word existed pre-Palin. At least, that comes as a surprise to me. Thanks for the research.

    December 9, 2008

  • The Scottoline quote antedates Tina Fey's use of mavericky. The earliest use I can find is in 1972, with an interesting parallel to McCain's piloting days.

    "Zimmy was an excellent pilot, who had flown charter and combat aircraft since 1937, and the word among the personnel around Westfield was that he was a little mavericky, likely to fly an aircraft the way he saw fit."

    --Burton Hersh, 1972, The Education of Edward Kennedy, p. 423

    December 9, 2008

  • I suppose one could also use them to refer to a non-adult of the same sex: "a mannish little boy", a "womanish little girl", perhaps especially in regard to their gestures, expressions, appearance, etc.: "The child was only eight, but his mannish stride surprised me." "Manly" would not have the same effect here, since it would indicate approval where the speaker wishes to convey dismay.

    December 9, 2008

  • Indeed the occasional facetious comments are part of Nate's charm. If he wrote like a journalist, fivethirtyeight would be kind of boring.

    December 9, 2008

  • Give me a manly man, or a womanly woman. But for God's sake, spare me from a boyly boy.

    In English, the adjectival forms ending in 'ish', mannish and womanish, are always (?) used to refer to the opposite sex. true or false?

    December 9, 2008

  • In defense of Nate Silver, he is actually a very articulate political analyst. I am sure his use of "more maverick-y" here was facetious.

    December 9, 2008

  • Maverick-y is inelegant, perhaps even excusable, but more maverick-y is dreadful. Why not re-write the sentence to avoid having to conjure a sub for maverickier? Don't they teach people how to do this these days? I was going to say 'journalist' but I look back at your reference and see it's from a blog.

    December 9, 2008

  • Today (9 Dec. 2008) I came across this word in an essay by Nate Silver on his 538 blog about what went wrong with the McCain campaign. But he spells it, interestingly, with a hyphen:

    "But at the end of the day, the McCain campaign was too cynical to believe that the older, more maverick-y version of their candidate could have closed the sale."

    He is using the word partly in jest, I think, and the hyphen tells us that he does not really believe in this word, or rather, that he does not really believe this is a "real" word. Both Silver and, in the citation mollusque posted, Scottoline are semi-quoting Tina Fey (portraying Sarah Palin – I don't know if Palin herself ever used this word), who popularized this word. But that led me to wonder what does this -y suffix tell us? It is widespread and very productive in popular culture, notably, in commercials where it's used to indicate fragrances and flavors (lemony, chocolatey) that are produced artificially (not from lemons or chocolate). But more importantly, saying "maverick-y" instead of "maverick-like" (to name one more suitable choice) indicates a certain ineptness or gracelessness in producing words. And this makes me wonder (again) if Americans today are less skilled in the art of using words, in understanding the nature of words, in rhetoric (in its broadest sense).

    December 9, 2008

  • She didn't know if you could object to a statement by co-counsel, but she was loving being unorthodox. And unorthodox was a better adjective than mavericky.

    --Lisa Scottoline, 2004, Dead Ringer, p. 161

    October 13, 2008