to Ramesh Prabhu
date Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 7:50 PM
subject The word "localite"
I had a doubt with the word localite...I know you said that there is no such word as localite, but I happened to find this word being used at many places.
The oxford dictionary does not consist this word but there are other dictionaries that have it.
You know what, Bonny? You're right — and you have caught me on the back foot here. :-)
You see, for me "local" says it all. So I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would add "-ite" to it.
Well, I am wrong. After I received your email I did a search and what do you know — there's a reference to "localite" on the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
I am stunned. Obviously.
But I see no need to use "localite" when "local" is good enough. So I am going to ban the use of "localite" in Your Opinion, our college newspaper, and in my assignments. :-)
(When you type "localite" in Gmail or in Word, you'll notice that red squiggly underline turning up as soon as you press the space bar. That tells you something, doesn't it?)
Anyway, you got me thinking, Bonny. I have another pet peeve: "upliftment". So I thought I should check out this one too. And, again, I was flabbergasted to learn that, according to some online dictionaries, it's a variant of "uplift".
Again, I see no need to use "upliftment" when "uplift" is good enough. So I am going to ban the use of "upliftment" in Your Opinion and in my assignments. :-)
(Also, when you type "upliftment" in Gmail or in Word, you'll notice that red squiggly underline turning up as soon as you press the space bar. That tells you something, doesn't it?)
Who's in charge of these so-called dictionaries, anyway? As far as I know, the dictionaries that are considered the final authority on the English language do not include these "variants". Some of you may argue that Merriam-Webster is a well-known name in the world of dictionaries, but, suddenly, I am not so sure about its status anymore.
No, no — I am kidding. Merriam-Webster has been owned by Encyclopaedia Brittanica since 1964, so the editors know what they're doing. And, apparently, "localite" and "upliftment" do exist. So their usage will depend on house style. And that's final.
I am copying this to your classmates. All feedback is welcome.
The New York Times, which I consider one of the world's great newspapers, does not use "localite" going by the search I performed this morning on its website (see below).
As for "upliftment", a search on the NYT website threw up three references. First, a direct quote with the word (in an obituary for a reggae singer who died last year):
In a 2001 interview, Mr. Isaacs reflected on his legacy. “Look at me as a man who performed works musically,” he said. “Who uplift people who need upliftment, mentally, physically, economically — all forms. Who told the people to live with love ’cause only love can conquer war, and to understand themselves so that they can understand others.”
Second, in an answer by a hip-hop musician, Jorge Pabon, to a question asked by readers in April last year:
The outcome of these efforts often brings about a strong conscious generation of individuals who have found peaceful ways to settle differences and who stand for the upliftment of their community.
This also appears to be a direct quote.
Third, in a reader's letter:
All these features make USA a dynamic and growing society like no other society in the world. Therefore, a mere statistical comparison with some of the so called banana republics is rather misleading, as these countries usually do not offer the same or even similar avenues and opportunities for individual growth and economic upliftment.
Any guesses where this reader hails from? New Delhi. Niranjan Raj sent in this letter to the NYT last November.
There seem to be no instances of NYT journalists using "upliftment" in their articles.
But search for "uplift" on the NYT website, and more than 8,000 results will turn up, including this sentence from an article in a November 2010 issue of The New York Times Magazine:
This fusion of confinement and uplift may seem like an empowering veneer on the reality of oppression.
To me, this is a good enough argument for banning the use of "upliftment" (and "localite") in our written and spoken English.
- UPDATE (June 28, 2012) — "Upliftment in The Times of India Crest Edition".