Sarah Palin says “refudiate” and creates a word controversy. What’s the big problem with refudiate?

Yesterday, Sarah Palin offered her opinion on a proposal to build a mosque in the vicinity of the September 11th site. Her words:

Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate.”

This tweet is a pundit‘s dream, a perfect storm for mud-slinging, flak, fuss, hurrahs, miffs, polemics, rows, rumpuses, and maybe some discussion.

Dictionary.com only cares about one word in the former Alaska governor’s message. Refudiate. Go ahead and look up refudiate on our site. Or any dictionary Web site for that matter. Nada, zilch.

There are a few ways to look at Sarah Palin’s use of “refudiate.” It’s clear that refute and repudiate are lurking in the background somewhere. One view is that it’s a non-word and sets a bad example for students of the English language. Palin’s response:

“‘Refudiate,’ ‘misunderestimate,’ ‘wee-wee’d up.’ English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!”

“Misunderestimate” is a famous coinage by former President George W. Bush. “Wee-wee’d up” is a lexical creation by President Barack Obama. (Check out our previous take on a flub of Obama’s.)

Say what you will about her invocation of Shakespeare, but Palin raises a classic debate among linguists and lexicographers (people who create dictionaries). Dictionaries have always faced the dilemma whether to be prescriptive or descriptive. Is it the job of a dictionary to direct how words should be used, spelled, or pronounced, or should a dictionary simply document the current usage of the language?

When Palin, Bush and Obama coined their respective terms, they added neologisms (new words) to the messy, changing phenomenon we agree to call English. Whether a word transforms from a novelty into a standard part of our lexicon is a mysterious joy beyond the power of any politician, editor or individual to predict.

Commenter  ”Pete Buick” deserves mention for pointing out a wonderful related term: malapropism, “an act or habit of misusing words ridiculously, esp. by the confusion of words that are similar in sound.” It’s up to you if you consider “refudiate” a malapropism or a simple corrigendum.

Weigh in: Do you think refudiate will end up in the dictionary? What do you make of Palin’s defense?


States News Service August 12, 2011 WASHINGTON — The following information was released by the U.S. Department of State:

Notice to the Press Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC August 12, 2011 On Tuesday, August 16, the National Defense University and CNN will host a conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

The conversation will take place at the National Defense University’s Abraham Lincoln Hall in Washington, DC at approximately 10:15 a.m.

CNN will provide live pool coverage feed. Please contact Lindy.royce@turner.com at CNN for more information. The event will be streamed live on www.state.gov and www.defense.gov.

Pre-set time for still photographers: 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

Final access time for journalists: 9:00 a.m.

Media in cars should enter the gate on 2nd Street S.W. to allow time for a vehicle security search. Media on foot should enter at 4th and P Street S.W. go to site national defense university

National Defense University Abraham Lincoln Hall Auditorium Fort McNair 4th Street and P Street, SW Washington, DC The National Defense University (NDU) is the premier center for Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) and is under the direction of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. The University’s main campus is on Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, DC. For more information on NDU, click here.


Department of State Office of Press Relations 202-647-2492 Department of Defense Office of Public Affairs 703-697-5131 National Defense University Shelley Su Shelley.Su@ndu.edu 202-685-2344 PRN: 2011/1318

Q&A; PC hard drive easier to erase than destroy.(BUSINESS)

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN) January 26, 2011 Byline: STEVE ALEXANDER; STAFF WRITER Q In a recent column, you wrote about cleaning off a hard drive with an “erase” program before getting rid of the computer. But I’ve been told that none of those programs really cleans up the hard drive, and that the only real way to get rid of your data is to destroy the hard drive. While I find that too aggressive, I’m also very nervous about someone getting my personal information. Any more suggestions? go to web site google redirect virus


A In theory, there are flaws in older erase programs that use Department of Defense technology to overwrite existing data. Here are some alternatives:

You could buy a “degausser” to demagnetize your hard disk, but they cost thousands of dollars (see tinyurl.com/6bn7c4h.) You could find a PC recycling firm in your area that will shred your hard drive.

You could destroy it yourself, but that poses problems. If you drill a hole in the drive, that leaves the rest of the data intact. If you smash the drive with a hammer, only some data might be damaged. If you burn the drive you might only release noxious chemicals without ever knowing if you had eradicated the data. site google redirect virus

The best solution may be to try a University of California erase program that uses a newer approach to disk cleaning that’s called “secure erase.” Find the free download at tinyurl.com/2xoqqw.

Q My four computers all get redirected when we use them for Google Internet searches. First the search takes me to a Google page with lots of items, but when I click an item I’m redirected to an alternate website. When I close the redirected website and click my original item, I’m then taken to the correct site. I know this is caused by malicious software, but my Norton security software and the Malwarebytes program you recommend can’t find anything. Could this be caused by my new wireless printer?

DAVID HAYES, OTTAWA, ONTARIO A Your printer’s not to blame. Your PCs have been infected with what’s commonly called the “Google redirect virus.” Symantec, the company that sells Norton security software, says it’s really a Trojan horse, a malicious program that masquerades as a useful one. The Trojan, which Symantec calls “Backdoor.Tidserv,” displays unwanted ads, redirects your browser from legitimate search results to potentially malicious Web pages, and keeps the PC vulnerable to other harmful downloads. You can find Symantec’s explanation and a free removal tool for the Trojan at tinyurl.com/ksmcdu. Click the arrow next to “download removal tool.”

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