Monday February 20, 2006
A Word is Born
Lightning strikes twice in one day in Slate's "Five-Ring Circus" coverage of the 2006 Winter Olympics. First, Julia Turner suggests the term sno-bo-cross for the much clunkier snowboard cross, simultaneously strengthening the resemblance to its etymon motocross and doing away with the awkward rdcr cluster. Sounds like a winner! Later, Seth Stevenson suggests that in the future we'll refer to instances of "hubristic self-immolation" as pulling a Jacobellis. I'm more doubtful about this one. I think the name Jacobellis lacks the punchy quality of a boycott or a lynch—but it's up to the community of English speakers to decided if it catches on, not me.
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I have to confess I don't understand the piling-on-Jacobellis thing. She seems like a nice gal who's very good at what she does and wanted to add a little flourish that she's doubtless done many times without problem and due to some fluke it didn't work. Many people, however, seem to think it was some epitome of evil hubris that earned her a just retribution from the gods. Meh, as the kids say these days.