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Politics makes strange suffixes:

“After the November elections gave Democrats majorities in the House and Senate, Bush pledged to work with his opponents. With his first words at the retreat, he sought to put to rest one bone of contention between the White House and the new congressional majority: The dropped ‘ic.’

“Democrats found it demeaning when the president, in his State of the Union address last month, referred to the ‘Democrat majority,’ as opposed to the ‘Democratic majority.’ ”

The article goes on to say that the president carefully used the correct adjective — “Democratic” — for a time. But relations between a Republican president and a Democratic Congress soon soured, and Bush has reverted to his old ways:

“If Democrat leaders in the Congress are bent on making a political statement, then they need to send me this unacceptable bill as quickly as possible when they come back. I’ll veto it … ”

Republicans began using Democrat for Democratic years ago. They offered some sort of reason that I’ve forgotten, but mainly they just wanted to annoy the Democrats. And succeeded. Many in the news media copied the usage, out of ignorance or partisanship.

Bust in time:

“Central Arkansas Water employee Stan DeMann hammers in a piece of wood held by Lew Bricious as they repair a busted water main at East Fourth and Cumberland Streets in Little Rock on Tuesday morning.”

The verb bust, a variant of burst, has been climbing up the usage ladder for years, and seems to have reached the top at last. I can remember when English teachers said that only ignorant people used bust. But by the late 1950s, Bergen and Cornelia Evans were writing in their Dictionary of Contemporary Usage that bust was slang rather than uneducated English, a promotion. In the ’80s, Random House elevated bust from slang to “informal.” Today’s Merriam-Webster Online makes bust standard English, with no restrictions on its use.

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