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Words Oct. 21

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Inappropriate touching is my anti-drug: The sports page reported on an ugly incident at a Denver middle school during a rally urging students to stay drug-free. One of the participants in the rally, a cheerleader for a professional soccer team, was knocked down by a group of students ostensibly rushing to get her autograph. Rescued from the crowd, she was "visibly shaken" and told the school principal that she had been inappropriately touched. The story concluded: "Salazar [the principal] said he still has not determined whether the touching was an accident or if it was intentional. If he finds the student or students responsible, they could face several forms of school discipline, ranging from detention, suspension or even expulsion." When stating a range of possibilities, a from at the front end requires a to at the back end. Here the writer has omitted the to. The range of punishments is endless. "LOS ANGELES (AP) - After creating ‘Star Wars, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and ‘American Graffiti,’ Darth Vader might insist it was George Lucas’ DESTINY to get the American Film Institute’s lifetime achievement award." Darth Vader was a character in movies, not a creator of movies. The sentence should be revised to make it plain that George Lucas is the creator. Jennifer Barnett Reed writes: "I threw the word ‘snarky’ into an e-mail to a friend of mine, but when he asked me what it meant, I was hard-pressed to put it into words. I figured it was too new to be in the dictionary. I finally came up with this on my own — ‘bitchy, hostile’ plus ‘smug’ equals ‘snarky.’ Then I actually looked it up in a 1997 dictionary and there it was, defined as a British slang term meaning ‘irritable or testy.’ I don’t think that’s how it’s used in the U.S., though." The 2000 edition of the American Heritage Dictionary also says that snarky is a slang term meaning "irritable or short-tempered; irascible." Any additional meanings are unknown to me. The snark was a mysterious, imaginary animal created in 1876 by Lewis Carroll in his poem "The Hunting of the Snark," but there’s no evidence of a connection between that snark and today’s snarky.

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