|Walden, NYT, Sat Apr 21st
||[Apr. 27th, 2007|01:48 am]
Crosswords Without Pity
Finally got around to doing last Saturday's NYT puzzle, the one that took everyone twice as long as the typical Saturday. I don't really know how long it took, since I was on an airplane and fell asleep during takeoff, but I do want to note:|
OK, a few dubious entries--not so sure about TEEN CROWD (perhaps "the teen crowd", yes, but on its own it sounds stilted to me) or MORTAL FOES. And some of the cluing was weird--"Began drawing" for ENTICED, as opposed to, say, "Drew"? And I think IN LINE FOR is "due for", not "due".
But what really irritated me was "Chronic fatigue syndrome, informally" for YUPPIE FLU. "Informally"? How about "dismissively and derogatorily"? (To say nothing of "inaccurately"; the demographic of the disease is in no way centered on middle-to-upper-class people.) I'm trying to imagine "Mentally disabled, informally" for RETARDED or "Suffering from depression, informally" for MOPING AROUND.
For shame, Byron; for shame, Will.
You might want to pass along your complaint to the lexicographers at the American Heritage Dictionary
, tahnan. I once hired a freelance writer who'd retired from dentistry because of chronic fatigue syndrome, and I tend to accept it as a legitimate diagnosis, though I know the medical profession is not of one mind on this (and other conditions that don't fit the existing mold and lack an obvious cause), which helps promulgate dismissive tags like "yuppie flu." That said, if CANCER is off-limits because it's distressing, then maybe anything that ties into chronic fatigue syndrome should also go bye-bye.
[Due for] would repeat the "for" that's in the answer. My editorial ear says "due" by itself is fine.
FWIW, I find far more offensive those entries or clues that can be racist, sexist, or classist. [Golliwog] as a clue for OGRE? Terrible. The word GOOK, even clued to the "gunk"" definition? Terribly offensive. A clue somebody on the Cruciverb-L list suggested that tagged something colloquially black as "ghetto"? Offensive.
Hm--Merriam-Webster lists it as synonymous without further comment; interesting that the AHD calls it merely "informal". I may indeed complain to Steve, who should know better. The OED, for what it's worth, says "usually with dismissive or depreciative connotations".
Yes, things that are racist/sexist/classist are perhaps more offensive; but I think that's just because we're more familiar with biases against race, class, and sex. I'm always reminded of the old Doonesbury strip:
Clyde: "I hear you're gay."
Andy: "I hear you're black."
Clyde: "Yeah, but that's normal, man!"
Andy: "Didn't used to be."
Terms that are racist, classist, sexist are terms that used to be used freely until we became a little bit more aware that they were derogatory towards a group that didn't particularly need to be put down. There are still plenty of such terms used towards groups that haven't yet escaped the unjustified social stigma: terms about mental illness, certain physical disorders, weight, and so forth.
"Yuppie flu" has been out of vogue for so long, has been known for so long to be inaccurate and derogatory, that even if the AHD is running behind the times, there's no excuse for Will to let it through into the crossword.