Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Posted by Alan Childress
But it is somewhat unique. Over at the new legal writer blog, its author Ray Ward and two commenters are debating whether it is unacceptable to ask for the "most unique" entries in a survey. Is criticism of that usage proper or just pedantic? I am sure Jeff has strong feelings on this matter since propriety and pedantics are in his wheelhouse -- as are the English language and accurate crossword puzzles. And likely a curiosity about the origins of Scrabble or the correction of common mondegreens.
Commenter Texas Appellate Lawyer writes, "Unique does mean one of a kind. But, something can be one of a kind but not that different from other things, while something else can be one of a kind and far different than anything else." He or she disagrees with "people who claim that things are unique or not unique, and that there are not varying degrees of uniqueness...." I added my similar view.
Ray would be willing to let this slide for Joe Blow (me), but not for the ironic source in which he found very unique used: "for crying out loud, this is Merriam-Webster. Hence the title of this post. If MW can’t stick to proper usage, then the foundation of civilization itself is decayed." Sounds almost like the inter-greek council speech in Animal House: I am not going to sit here and let Merriam-Webster badmouth ... the United States of America!
This scrap follows on our earlier debate at Ray's blog, under the post Why Johnny Can't Write, over whether legal writing "fellows" with short-term contracts are an acceptable or preferred model of teaching legal research and writing to 1Ls (or just different than). Commenters have strong feelings. I do not know why I felt the need to argue with others (experts) over these two matters, but I did. So I link to them with the idea that I might convince you to join in. Hopefully. [Update: also picked up, before, by Greg May at his California Blog of Appeal here.] If you do not, I will not be decimated.