Wednesday, February 15, 2006


There's a real newsathon over Cheney's Quailgate. Blogaholics like me are starting a commentathon over it. Could this be the Monicagate of the current Neoconathon? Newsaholics want to know!

I'm so freakin' tired of people throwing the suffixes -gate, -aholic, and -athon onto the end of words to describe something. It was bad enough when advertisers used it (Toyotathon!), but when the practice started getting into news reports, I really began to seethe.

So let's be clear:

Marathon is a town in Greece, 26.2 miles from Athens. There's a distance race named after it, to honor Phidippides, who ran the distance, proclaimed victory in battle, and croaked.*

Watergate is a hotel in DC. There was a politically-motivated crime committed there that ended the presidency of Richard Nixon.** There's also an eponymous 'salad' made with pistachio pudding, pineapple, and walnuts, that my mother has made for thirty years, and that I have refused to eat for exactly the same time frame.

An alcoholic is a person who suffers from the inability to stop drinking despite harm. ***

These are all acceptible words, and are used for specific reasons.

There are no salesathons. Nor are there phoneathons. Folks who use nipplegate and monicagate should have their nipples stapled to their monicas. People who think they're shopaholics and chocoholics should check themselves around me, because I might be a slapupsidetheheadaholic.

I know we're using a living language, and that change is inevitable. I'm a firm believer that a big reason that English is one of the most-used international languages is because of its willingness to adopt words from other languages and usages when needed.

But this is pure laziness.

As are all these neologisms like 'infotainment' and 'docudrama.' They can go away too.****

Oh, and 'allot' means to distribute. If, in your writing, you mean to say 'a large amount,' or 'quite a bit,' you could write 'a[space]lot,' as in the sentence: "People who think that there's a word spelled 'alot' piss me off a lot."*****

There. I'm glad I got that off my chest.


*To all advertisers who co-opt the name, I say go thou and do likewise.
**Who has dropped in the 'worst president ever' poll down to no higher than third. That's saying something, isn't it?
***Notice I did not use the word 'disease.' I just didn't want to get into it again with Polanco.
****Especially since it's the 'infotainers' like Geraldo who are perpetuating the gataholicathon.
*****Unless they're astronomers discussing Adaptive Large Optics Technologies. Those dudes get a free pass.


Blogger Timmy said...


HAHAHA! too damned funny!

2:38 PM  
Blogger Dear Lovey Heart said...

I agree with you completely, that drives me crazy keep up the good work

4:34 PM  
Blogger mal said...

I hate it when they do that !@#$@ too!! They are lazy and they are trying either dramatize or parallel a situation by slapping an "associated" name to argument, VERY cheap.

Should we label it a new fallacy in logic, argumentum ad wordyholicism?

9:33 PM  
Blogger Colleen said...

marathon is also a place in the florida keys. i spent many a vacation there when i lived in miami. and they have the dolphin research center that serves as a rescue center for dolphins that get hurt.

i'm sick of this cheney shit already. geez. you are absolutely right.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Grammar zealot.

12:20 AM  
Blogger Notsocranky Yankee said...

Do Batman and Robin get a pass also?

"Holy Quailgate Batman!"
"Yes, quite a shootathon Robin"

I think they should since it was the 60's and funny.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Notso: Sorry. No freebies for the Dynamic Duo.

Jessica: leave my grandmother out of this.


9:21 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I write that with great affection.

11:14 PM  
Blogger George Larson said...

i agree with u completely because you and i both share a desire for our shared language to be expressed in a way that is correct and understandable. did you ever notice the number of sylables in understandable? i didnt b4 2nite. but i think there is like 8 or something.

thanks for your post and you appreciatin english. one of my personal favorites is 'Write it Right' by ambrose bierce.

2:46 AM  
Blogger Rowena said...

Funniest thing I've read in ages.

How do you feel about the suffix -arama BP? (Remember George on Seinfeld saying something was "one big nude-arama"?). It's one I like to bandy about a bit. Alot, in fact ; )

6:41 AM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

I had forgotten about -arama. I'm not as offended by that one, since it's co-opted from panorama, which in itself is a relatively modern word (1800's, I believe). Panormama is a neologism of two Greek words (pan & horama) created by the English to describe a painting style.

It's bad, but not as bad as the others.

Wow, that was a real geek-arama, wasn't it?

And use that word again, and you're out of the will, Ro...


10:00 AM  

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