Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Okay, time for a little grammar gripe. Some tend to be more persnickety than I about this sort of thing (not mentioning any names, of course), and I don't usually correct people when they say "newk-yoo-ler" or "re-noom-er-ay-shun" (it's actually "re-moon-er-ay-shun"), for instance.

But I've heard enough of this one lately (including from people who ought to know better) that I just have to say something: there is no such thing as a "mute point." Or if there is, it has nothing to do with what you mean when you say it.

What you mean to say is "moot point." Rhymes with "boot." It means "deprived of practical significance; made abstract or purely academic."

This is what one of our culture's great poets means when he says that he wants to tell his best friend Jesse's girl that he loves her "but the point is prob'ly moot." He doesn't mean it's silent; he means that, considering her evidently thriving romantic relationship with the aforementioned Jesse, his declaration of love for her would be deprived of practical significance and made purely academic--she's already previously engaged.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I'm now going in to organize my sock drawer by color and ankle length.

No comments: