"Epicenter"
is not a synonym for "center,"
nor does it mean
"really big important center."
It means "place above the center,"
as in, the place on the earth's crust
above the location of the earthquake.
And I'll take issue with any
usage board that says otherwise.
*tsk*

6 comments:

Ray said...

"Eighty-two percent of the Panel accepts the sentence 'If Rushdie were not at the terrifying epicenter of this furor, it is the sort of event he might write about.'"

Sometimes I think humans have too much time on our collective hands.

Meeker said...

Quoting a very dear friend, "Language grows and that's healthy."

sjc said...

You mistake me, Meeker. New words, new applications of words, these are the beautiful evolution of language. Being ignorant about the meaning of a word and assuming that it means the same as another word it sounds like just makes one sound uneducated.

"Ooh, earthquakes have epicenters, and this is a big shake up, so we must be at the epicenter." No, monkey, the word you want is "heart" or "hub" or "center." It's almost as bad as fucking "effectivity."

Fred said...

What are your thoughts then, I wonder, on a word like "hopefully"? I misuse that one myself all the time, and it's only recently that I've become aware that it is a misuse. When does it become a losing battle? And how much is it ignorance as someone using what they've been taught (admittedly by ignorant people) is correct usage?

sjc said...

Yeah, I misuse "hopefully" also. I guess you would say "I hope that," instead. But in that case, both senses refer to being full of hope; the difference is in what they modify, the subject or the speaker.

"Epicenter" and "center," however, have different semantic meanings. It's like "penultimate" being used to mean "ultimate" because people are ignoring the prefix. "Pen-" isn't some empty noise we add to sound smart; it means "almost." Likewise, "decimate" means to take every tenth, not obliterate to nigh extinction. It's the same prefix you see in decimeter and decibel.

Disregarding these prefixes is not helping language to evolve; it is stealing richness from our language. It is depriving us of tools.

sjc said...

Yeah, I misuse "hopefully" also. I guess you would say "I hope that," instead. But in that case, both senses refer to being full of hope; the difference is in what they modify, the subject or the speaker.

"Epicenter" and "center," however, have different semantic meanings. It's like "penultimate" being used to mean "ultimate" because people are ignoring the prefix. "Pen-" isn't some empty noise we add to sound smart; it means "almost." Likewise, "decimate" means to take every tenth, not obliterate to nigh extinction. It's the same prefix you see in decimeter and decibel.

Disregarding these prefixes is not helping language to evolve; it is stealing richness from our language. It is depriving us of tools.