Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A quick vocabulary lesson

Is a little respect for the English language too much to ask from one of the country’s most prestigious newspapers? The answer, of course, is yes. I found this in today’s online Wall Street Journal:

When Steven Barber turned in a short story this semester for his creative-writing class at the University of Virginia's College at Wise, his instructor was alarmed. The 23-year-old student had produced an imagined account of someone on the edge of a violent breakdown, touching on suicide and murder.

"It had to be acted on immediately," says Christopher Scalia, the instructor. He alerted administrators, who reacted swiftly, searching Mr. Barber's dorm room and car. Upon discovering three guns, they had him committed to a psychiatric institution for a weekend. Then they expelled him.

Yet the psychiatrists who evaluated Mr. Barber during his hospitalization determined he was no threat to himself or others…

When, at the doctor’s urging and for the sake of my own health and well-being, I chose to spend several days in the hospital last fall due to a severe infection that required IV antibiotics, that was “hospitalization.” When other people choose to have you confined for several days without your consent, that is what is known in English as “imprisonment.” The synonyms “incarceration,” “jailing,” and “going to the big house” are also acceptable.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Stopthief said...

Until I read the linked story, I was going to comment that I thought it strange that you were more concerned about the journalist's choice of words than with the fact a student got hospitalised/imprisoned for writing a short story.

Having read (half of) it, I'm at a loss as to what to make of either your comment, or the news story.

Oh well.

Stopthief said...

That was half of the news story I read, by the way, not the student's short story. I have just realised that was unclear, and that I am a bit tipsy.