The Road to Normalcy

Posted by David FG on January 21, 2005

In Reply to: The Road to Normalcy posted by Smokey Stover on January 20, 2005

: : : : : : : : : : On television this morning, Dr. Phil, one of America's television advice gurus, said, "If you enter a relationship with too many expectancies..." It sounded strange to me as I thought 'expectations' would be preferred. He went on to use 'expectancy' where I thought it should be 'expectation.' Any help here on preference or which is more correct? Thank you.

: : : : : : : : : : SR

: : : : : : : : : Strictly speaking, it is gibberish, at least, it's not in the dictionary yet. A similar word I've heard is "dependencies" meaning a number of factors that something depends upon. It's used in project management. Are these words jargon? Are they malapropisms? Are they expressing something it wasn't possible to express in quite the same way using standard English? I'm not sure but I hear these all the time and sometimes I'm oblidged to use them to be understood by others who use them.

: : : : : : : : I think Dr. Phil, astute marketer that he is, is deliberately dumbing down his vocabulary so as not to alienate his customers.

: : : : : : : I have never watched Dr. Phil or any of his ilk. I consider it a badge of honor.

: : : : : : Nor have I actually, but some mornings our local newscast injects a 'Dr. Phil Moment' (there's another example for a previous post)which is usually my cue to take a shower and get out of the house.

: : : : : "Expectancies" used that way sounds like social-science jargon or educators' jargon. But it ain't easy to choose the right word the first time, every time, when the camera's on you.

: : : : Sesame Street now features a Dr.Phil-like talk-show host named "Dr. Feel", who tries (usually fails) to guess his guest's feelings.

: : : : In the dark night of my soul I have tuned into Dr.Phil, more from prurient interest than anything else. It's compelling in a sort of creepy way - or maybe I'm just in denial.

: : : The BBC used to be fairly strict in requiring their "news-readers" to use real words, preferably the right ones. The networks in the U.S. all have style sheets, but they are pretty forgiving of wrong words, wrong pronunciation, and no[word removed in order to comply with Google's Publisher Policy]s that sound like words (logoids?). And of course entertainment shows like Dr. Phil have carte blanche in the use of words as long as they don't sound dirty or non-PC. Television naturally encourages such diseased utterances to spread and multiply. One of my favorite example of what happens when a no[word removed in order to comply with Google's Publisher Policy] is spoken by a VIP is normalcy. When it was first said by a man of substance, there was already a perfectly good word, normality. But now normalcy is the normal word. Who wants to tell me who said it and under what circumstances? SS

: : I have no idea. It was not (contrary to popular opinion)coined by President Warren G Harding. It is a British English word of considerable antiquity. Most UK speakers are not aware of this.

: : DFG

: Ah, David, you have caught me with my pants down. I have to admit that I was suckered by all those people in the 1920s and later who in their eagerness to jeer President Harding accused him of making up the word "normalcy." In fact, both that form and "normality" seem to have first appeared mid-19th-century. (I can't help continuing to regard "normalcy" as sub-literate.)I used to believe that Harding was the worst American president, but after learning more about some of the others I find it less mind-boggling that some professor has written a book praising his administration. As to the worst ever--dare to offer an opinion? SS

I couldn't possibly comment on the shortcomings of US presidents. I have an opinion on the worst ever UK Prime Minister: the trouble is it is such a wide field from which to choose.