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August 27, 2009


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The term self-deprecating is used so often, I'll have to explain myself every time I use the correct version! Thank You! I am smarter because of you!

Thanks, I didn't know that and even my super-picky parents didn't either!

@adchick, I think that if Garner (The Sensible Prescriptivist(tm), you read it here first) says "self-deprecating" is Standard English, then it's Standard English, and using "self-depreciating" and having to explain it every time you do is ... why would you do that?

@Nancy, I'm sure you've seen references to a now-popular YouTube video of Reagan depreciating "socialized medicine" in 1961. What's amusing to me about this is that he did this in the employ of the AMA -- dude was an actor, after all -- but it's gone viral as if Saint Ron had writ the words himself: "Ronald Reagan speaks out against socialized medicine!" Anyway, that T. R. Reid interview was awesome.

Actually, you were right the first time. Who's this Garner dude? OED, Oxford, and whatever American dics I have around the house give deprecating the same meaning you (we) have always given it.

@PW: Bryan Garner is the respected editor of the foremost U.S. guide to English usage--a "bible" of sorts for editors, publishers, and writers. Usage guides are very different from dictionaries; where dictionaries compile and report the way language is used, rightly or wrongly, usage guides advise on correctness. Dictionaries describe; usage guides prescribe.

One of the nifty things about Garner is his numerical Language Change Index: if a term is at Stage 1 ("dependency" misused for "dependence"), it's rejected. If it's at Stage 5--as in the case of "self-deprecating"--it's accepted. But I recommend reading the full entry to understand how the acceptance came about. And I definitely recommend that every serious writer and editor in the U.S. own a current edition of Garner along with other standard references: Chicago Manual of Style, American Heritage Dictionary, etc.

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