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Mansplainin’ 2: Electric Vulvaloo! The dude who had a Twitter meltdown over the word “vulva” is back

Let me explain it to you one more time

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By David Futrelle

Some guys can’t take a hint. Or even several thousand hints.

Remember the dude who, only a few short weeks ago, had a Twitter meltdown after trying to “correct” a world-famous vagina expert on the proper use of the words “vulva” and “vagina” — a meltdown so epic that the folks at Dictionary.com felt compelled to step in to tell him that he was wrong?

Well, he’s back, and back on his bullshit again. Yesterday he popped up on Twitter, defiant as ever, with a 20-page (single-spaced) manifesto explaining why he was right all along.

The new tweet caused thousands of Tweeters to let out a sigh that could be heard around the world, and generated a truly astounding ratio: the last I checked, the tweet had more than 2000 replies — mostly from people telling him he’s wrong — and only eight retweets.

To refresh your memory on the original controversy. Bullen took issue with the word “vulva” being used in the headline of a Guardian article about a book of photographs of women’s, well, vulvas; he insisted that the “correct” word in this instance was “vagina.” When gynecologist Jen Gunter, author of the forthcoming book The Vagina Bible, reminded him that the word “vagina” refers to the inside stuff and “vulva” to the outside stuff, Bullen essentially suggested she was being a word snob because most people use the word vagina, informally, to mean that whole thing down there.

That’s certainly true. But he didn’t just say, hey, why not use the word vagina here since that’s the one people use colloquially to refer to both the vulva and the vagina. Instead, he insisted that the article’s correct use of the word vulva was incorrect.

And that’s what he does again in his new manifesto, in an even more convoluted manner.

“My opening gambit was to say ‘The correct word is vagina’ in response to a use of the word vulva where one normally would expect to see the word vagina,” he wrote.

I wasn’t denying that the things that we could see in the photos were technically called vulvas or parts of vulvas. I was claiming that the use of the word ‘vulva’ was solecistic in this non-technical context—although it I assumed it was intentionally so. And it may well no longer be a soleciscistic  in certain circles.

In case you’re wondering, here’s the definition of solecism from Merriam-Webster:

Definition of solecism
1 : an ungrammatical combination of words in a sentence
also : a minor blunder in speech
2 : something deviating from the proper, normal, or accepted order
3 : a breach of etiquette or decorum

So, yeah, he’s using this word incorrectly. There’s nothing ungrammatical, deviant, or even impolite about using the word vulva to refer to, well, a vulva. He continues on:

My general starting point is that the English language has evolved in ways that give some words both narrow and broad meanings. … One example of such words is vagina. Everyone knows it is used in two ways: (1) most commonly to refer to the female genitals in general and (2) to refer to one particular part of them. My position is that not only is this a descriptive fact about English language use, but that this descriptive fact determines correct use. Correct use here simply means that people will know what you are talking about and you won’t sound strange.

In other words, he”s insisting once again that using the actual dictionary definitions of “vulva” and “vagina” is “incorrect usage” because it “sound[s] strange.”

Then he takes aim at people like Dr. Gunter who use the dictionary definitions of these words because, in his mind, this is a violation of “standard usage.”

Just as people sometimes violate the law to bring about a revolution, people sometimes violate standard usage as part of a attempt to change usage. But these people are speaking “incorrectly” (coming across as solecistic) for the sake of making a change.

Again, the “change” Gunter and others are trying to make is to get people to use the words “vulva” and “vagina” correctly. But to Bullen this makes them incorrect:

That is where the issue should have been—whether there is sufficient reason to violate existing practice. … So there is a small number of women who say “vulva” when one would expect “vagina” as they are convinced it is the “correct” term. That’s pretty much where the issue lies.

Of course, the “small number of women” who insist on saying “vulva” when Bullen would rather use “vagina” are “convinced it is the ‘correct’ term” because it is in fact the correct term, as defined in the dictionary. As the people at Dicitonary.com reminded him.

His real objection to using “vulva” seems to be that feminists are using the term and he doesn’t like that, or them.

“I often resist changes in the language that are being made for what I take to be the wrong reasons,” he declares. After citing a number of not-particularly relevant examples — like “English speaking Canadians … pronouncing Quebec the way the French speakers do. And … Americans … pronouncing Chile the way Spanish speakers do.” — he gets to his real objection: he hates what he sees as “politically correct” language. He offers no logical explanation for this other than to suggest that such language is excessively euphemistic.

I may be willing to go along with saying disabled person rather than handicapped person, I am not willing to say person with a disability rather than disabled person. I am not willing to say enslaved person rather than slave. I was willing to switch from the perfectly good word Negro to black, but I was not willing to move again from black to African American. And I am not willing to say undocumented immigrant rather than illegal alien. There is a general neurosis caused by activists who like to announce every few years that an existing usage is problematic and should be replaced by what they say.

Well, that’s your right, dude. But don;t be surprised if people call you out for being the jerk that you are.

Still, it would seem that feminists insisting on the correct usage of the words “vulva” and “vagina” — using them according to the literal dictionary definitions of each word — would be different than introducing a new term, like African-American instead of black. But nope! In Bullen’s mind it’s all part of the same “neurotic” impulse.

So when I see attempts to say “vulva” where normally “vagina” would be seen, I suspect ideological influences or bad thinking. … I don’t jump every time an ideological faction says jump. I got off the euphemism treadmill awhile ago.

If I may eschew euphemism myself for a moment, he’s essentially saying: fuck you, feminists, I won’t say “vulva” because you want me to — even if the dictionary itself backs you up.

Bullen goes on reiterating points he tried to make in the original thread — suggesting that Dr. Gunter’s vagina expertise doesn’t count because we’re dealing with words and not medical issues, and even mansplaining the term mansplaining, which he insists he wasn’t doing. But you’ll have to sort through that yourself, as I’ve gotten tired of this pompous fuckhead and his fractal wrongness.

Sorry, I forgot that I’m supposed to be on the “euphemism treadmill” again.

Speaking of which, there weren’t a lot of euphemisms in the Twitter response to Bullen’s new and decidedly not improved mansplaination. “Dude, give it a rest,” tweeted Dr. Gunter. “This is egregious long form mansplaining.”

Others were equally withering:

A weird mons to die on
Is that monsplaining?
The Sermon on the Mons?
I’ve never seen someone so blisteringly unwilling to just take the L
Have you ever considered, a hobby, for example
I think his hobby might actually be being wrong on the internet.
You are fabulous. You are not using the word "correct" correctly
VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA VULVA

It’s Stop O’Clock all right. At this point I can only conclude he’s keeping this going because he wants to get on Fox News as the latest brave man to stand up against the evil feminazi laguage police. But somehow I suspect that even the folks at Fox would find Billen’s long-form mansplaining a bit tiresome.

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Kat, ambassador of the feminist government in exile
Kat, ambassador of the feminist government in exile
2 years ago

I may be willing to go along with saying disabled person rather than handicapped person, I am not willing to say person with a disability rather than disabled person. I am not willing to say enslaved person rather than slave. I was willing to switch from the perfectly good word Negro to black, but I was not willing to move again from black to African American. And I am not willing to say undocumented immigrant rather than illegal alien.

Get hold of yourself. As an editor, your job is to follow an established style guide to improve the readability of a manuscript. It’s not to impose your own ideas on a manuscript.

You’re also a human being. Again, get hold of yourself. Who are you to declare that you won’t say, for example, “person with a disability”? If you can’t stand to say a few more syllables, then maybe you should just be silent. Also, if you can’t stand the idea that disabled people have more rights than they used to, then you should prepare for pushback. More pushback. Pretty much constant pushback.

Knitting Cat Lady
Knitting Cat Lady
2 years ago

I get that technical jargon can be intimidating. I’m a physicist working in engineering. If I talk shop with a colleague people with different backgrounds are lost. Especially since we use industry specific abbreviations.

Being incomprehensible for the uninitiated doesn’t make technical terms wrong, though.

Vulva was used correctly. Everyone would have understood if the Guardian had used vagina instead. Still doesn’t make vulva wrong.

Colloquial terms existing doesn’t render technical terms incorrect.

I dearly wish people would stop misusing ‘quantum’, though…

Wetherby
Wetherby
2 years ago

I don’t regard “vulva” as technical jargon – merely an accurate label for a specific body part, in which respect it’s no different from an arm, a leg or a nose.

Mr Bullen may not use “vulva”, but frankly that says more about him than it does about anything else.

Juniper
Juniper
2 years ago

It seems obvious to me what happened here.

Mr. Bullen didn’t know what the word “vulva” meant (maybe he had never even encountered it before), so when he saw it on the Guardian article, he thought it was a euphemism for “vagina.” (Like calling a penis a ding-dong or something.) He couldn’t resist the opportunity to correct some women about using a euphemism for their genitals instead of the technically correct term, and posted “the correct term is vagina.” Note that he said the CORRECT TERM is vagina in his original comment.

The “dog-piling” didn’t happen until after a gynecologist and the dictionary told him that actually “vulva” is the technically correct term.

Unable to accept being told he’s wrong by anyone (especially not women), he made up something about “vulva” being TOO correct, and that’s why he’s right and they’re wrong.

But it’s really because he didn’t like feeling dumb for not knowing what “vulva” meant. He has to pretend that he DID know what it meant all along, and then come up with a 20 page manifesto (seriously? is it really 20 pages?) on why it’s actually correct to use the incorrect term.

Now I really hope that “to bullen” becomes a verb for this type of epic mansplaining. Mansplaining that won’t stop for weeks or months because the dude just can’t let it go.

Valkyrine
Valkyrine
2 years ago

Umm, what does “taking the L” mean? Is it like making the L-shape with your thump and index finger over your forehead to joking refer to yourself as a loser?

And what are all those mon references? They don’t seem to be talking about pokemon…

kupo
kupo
2 years ago

@CarrieV
It’s not a manifesto, it’s a treatise. 😄
comment image

Victorious Parasol
2 years ago

@Valkyrine

“Mons” is a reference to the mons pubis, otherwise known as the pubic mound, which is a pad of fatty tissue over the front of the pubic mound.

Ariblester
Ariblester
2 years ago

Valkyrine wrote on
March 1, 2019 at 8:06 am:

Umm, what does “taking the L” mean? Is it like making the L-shape with your thump and index finger over your forehead to joking refer to yourself as a loser?

And what are all those mon references? They don’t seem to be talking about pokemon…

Google indicates that “taking the L” means “taking the loss” (in your stride), and it may be connected to sports terminology (“W/L” for “win/lose”).

“mon” references are to the pubic mound, the mons pubis, mons being the Latin term for “mountain”, which is then used as a play on “the hill you choose to die on” and The Sermon on the Mount.

EDIT: And ninja’d by @Victorious Parasol

Pie
Pie
2 years ago

@Ariblester

I believe the prayer goes:

“Dear Lord, grant me the self-confidence of a mediocre, white, man”.

Yeah, I always liked that one. Until people like J A Wohl and Bullen appeared. Now it seems kinda nightmarish, like it involves some kind of horrible malfunction in the bits of you that grant you the ability to recognise your own failings, leaving you unable to do anything about the obviously stupid and awful things you’re doing in front of thousands of people to your own detriment, like some kind of curse.

“May you have the self-confidence of a mediocre white man”, like “may you live in interesting times.”

Valkyrine
Valkyrine
2 years ago

Thank you! 🤗

Also, typoed in the last comment. Should of been *jokingly, not joking…

dashapants
dashapants
2 years ago

Agree with Juniper. I have a good friend (a woman in my case) who does exactly this and it looks exactly like that. I love her, but sometimes she is insufferable in her inability to admit an error.

Bullen is trying to cover up for a minor but niggling instance of personal ignorance with displays of wild irrational public blustering predicated on a stanch implicit assertion that he’s always known what vulva means.

This may or may not be related to his man-aggrandizing proclivities, but it does draw attention to them and exposes him as a garbage person.

bluecat
bluecat
2 years ago

That twitter thread is pure gold. Thank you David.

cornychips
cornychips
2 years ago

Dude is still tweeting.

But how many women here feel psychically genitally mutilated due to using the word vagina rather than vulva? Do you feel your visible genitalia do not exist just because you use the word “vagina” to refer to them? This is the argument given for making a change. Is it convincing?

This douche. This fucking douche.

Moggie
Moggie
2 years ago

@dashapants:

This may or may not be related to his man-aggrandizing proclivities, but it does draw attention to them and exposes him as a garbage person.

Problematic. In Bullen’s case, I would accept “person of garbage” or “garbage-American”.

Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
2 years ago

@ Paul Bullen:

Lemme bullenize this for y’all….

“Right” (and it’s corollary, wrong) is whatever y’all SAY it is… we get that. What you’re not understanding is, “humiliation” is whatever the Twitterverse says it is….

evilzenmuppet
evilzenmuppet
2 years ago

I have a new “I’m at my lowest point but at least I’m not THAT GUY” icon.

Wetherby
Wetherby
2 years ago

My general starting point is that the English language has evolved in ways that give some words both narrow and broad meanings. … One example of such words is vagina. Everyone knows it is used in two ways: (1) most commonly to refer to the female genitals in general and (2) to refer to one particular part of them. My position is that not only is this a descriptive fact about English language use, but that this descriptive fact determines correct use. Correct use here simply means that people will know what you are talking about and you won’t sound strange.

The article originally appeared in The Guardian, a paper whose target readership most assuredly does know what the word “vulva” means, and which therefore won’t find it the tiniest bit strange.

And it’s rather touching that he’s expressing such concern that others might “sound strange” given literally everything else that he’s posted on this topic.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
2 years ago

@Moggie:

And, when the time comes, the inscription on his headstone will begin “Errata:” (and perhaps end “continued on next headstone”).

I’m looking forward to the weekly obituary installments, each one explaining why we’re all wrong for referring to it as “death” instead of the obviously correct term, “bid adieu to earthly scenes and entered into the joy of Abraham’s bosom”.

I was willing to switch from the perfectly good word Negro

Why are we throwing away all these perfectly good words when there are starving bigots in Africa?

There is a general neurosis caused by activists who like to announce every few years that an existing usage is problematic and should be replaced by what they say.

Bullen is the exact reason WHY the euphemism treadmill exists. New usages come about because marginalized people object to being referred to disparagingly as skin colors and body parts (calling someone “a Negro” is literally calling them “a black”). Often, when a newer and more neutral term is proposed, over time it acquires a derogatory connotation thanks to abusive supremacists and mansplainers, so a new term has to be found. It becomes a kind of arms race.

Being annoyed by this is like refusing to install system updates because you’re used to your OS being the way it is, and then writing angry letters to Microsoft demanding that they deprecate all the later versions.

I’ve written a treatise on mattresses, too

Wouldn’t paper be a little less bulky?

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

This is from the Guardian’s house writing style guide…

vagina or vulva?

The vagina is an internal organ, the muscular tubular organ that connects the genitals to the uterus; not the same thing as the vulva, the female genitals.

As the reader who pointed out one of the many examples of our getting this wrong said: “I am sure an article that used the term testicles to describe the penis would be corrected. Why do you accept this error for women?”

Moon_custafer
Moon_custafer
2 years ago

@ Alan Robertshaw:

The example I once saw was “it’s like using ‘neck’ to mean ‘face.’”

(I mean, metonymy exists, but it usually involves using the name of part of a thing for the whole thing, not the name of a part that’s adjacent to the thing.)

Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
2 years ago

@ Buttercup:

Being annoyed by this is like refusing to install system updates because you’re used to your OS being the way it is, and then writing angry letters to Microsoft demanding that they deprecate all the later versions

I… (oh, god…)

… Thanx for the comparison. I’m ashamed to say, I do this all the time. I don’t write letters to Microsoft, but I do gripe constantly about software changes. This is like a “light bulb” moment.

Katamount
Katamount
2 years ago

Wowwww… just… wowwww….

I mean, I’ve written my fair share of essay-length comments that in retrospect were probably a big waste of time, but just think of all the things that could have been done in the time it took this guy to just compound his own initially failure.

And sheesh, to who? Twitter randos? I’ve noticed social media has a nasty habit of inflating our sense of importance. Glib monssplaining is pretty low on the list of important things to do.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
2 years ago

@Weird Eddie

To be fair, Microsoft patches often do break unrelated things and create extra headaches. Maybe a better analogy would be that Bullen’s head is a database schema with read-only privileges. He’s got his words for things all stored away, by cracky, and that’s that!

Mrs. Obed Marsh
Mrs. Obed Marsh
2 years ago

Huh. He talked himself into accepting the MOST PC term for disabled people – the term disabled people tend to prefer for ourselves – while trying to not be PC. Disabled people usually prefer “identity-first” language over “person-first” language: phrases like “person with a disability” implies that the disability 1) can be neatly separated from the person who has it and 2) is somehow undesirable and should be downplayed. It would be like calling someone a “person of femininity” instead of a “woman” or a “girl.”

Moggie
Moggie
2 years ago

@Buttercup:

To be fair, Microsoft patches often do break unrelated things and create extra headaches. Maybe a better analogy would be that Bullen’s head is a database schema with read-only privileges. He’s got his words for things all stored away, by cracky, and that’s that!

The trouble with exposing your database ports to the Internet is that you tend to get owned, as Bullen has learned.

K.
K.
2 years ago

Assnuggets like him make me wanna break into “Vagina Denata” from Queen of Wands.

Valkyrine
Valkyrine
2 years ago

Would it be correct to say it’s like if someone was speaking about lips and some douche came in yelling about how you should say mouth, since lips is too specific of a term? 🤔

Michael
Michael
2 years ago

He is like if Ignatius J. Reilly read Austin recently and had access to the internet. (Of course Reilly would never actually read Austin )

Scildfreja Unnyðnes
Scildfreja Unnyðnes
2 years ago

I unashamedly love this guy. I want him to keep doing this forever.

Keep digging! Don’t worry, you’re never wrong, ever! Never ever! Everyone else in the world, they’re the wrong ones!

makes popcorn

Curious_Diversion
Curious_Diversion
2 years ago

Aw. He pulled down his disser-treatise and replaced it with weak-sauce song lyrics.

What’s amazing is that this guy actually believes, in his heart-of-hearts, that he’s right. He believes it 20+ pages worth.

Quick question: Where does Bullen get his water?

Answer: A well, actually.

dashapants
dashapants
2 years ago

Also, for Paul Bullen’s edification, the word “negro” stopped being a perfectly good word in the English language through prolonged and consistent derogatory misuse.

Languages where this has not occurred still retain its neutral usage. Russian, for example, cannot use “black” as a substitute euphemism because calling someone a black man carries a connotation of that person being toxic (i.e. it is already a euphemism for something bad), nor can it use nationality to designate persons of color because that cannot be easily discerned. Thus, it uses “negr” as shorthand, and at least in the geographic region I am familiar with this is a neutral term. “Black” is already semi-derogatory in American English, but not so in British English as far as I’m aware.

Again, all those languages are not colloquial American English. If Paul Bullen insists on speaking English in the USA, then he must endeavor to do so responsibly. Refusal to do so is not a sign of common sense or personal integrity. It is an insult. Which invites one to call him a dick to his face.

Gaebolga
Gaebolga
2 years ago

Katamount said:

…but just think of all the things that could have been done in the time it took this guy to just compound his own initially failure.

Given who we’re talking about, I’m pretty sure this is the best possible use of his time, at least as far as the rest of humanity is concerned….

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
2 years ago

@Moggie

The trouble with exposing your database ports to the Internet is that you tend to get owned, as Bullen has learned.

Those pesky SQL injections…

INSERT INTO mouth VALUES (‘foot’);
COMMIT;

Wetherby
Wetherby
2 years ago

Languages where this has not occurred still retain its neutral usage. Russian, for example, cannot use “black” as a substitute euphemism because calling someone a black man carries a connotation of that person being toxic (i.e. it is already a euphemism for something bad), nor can it use nationality to designate persons of color because that cannot be easily discerned. Thus, it uses “negr” as shorthand, and at least in the geographic region I am familiar with this is a neutral term. “Black” is already semi-derogatory in American English, but not so in British English as far as I’m aware.

Absolutely correct. I’m not sure why it doesn’t have the same connotations as it does in American English, but “black” has never been a pejorative term in British English. I see occasional unresolved debates about whether the word should be capitalised when applied to people, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a British person argue that its usage in itself is offensive.

I suspect part of the reason is that the overwhelming majority of black Britons are descended from people who came to the UK voluntarily, so there’s not the same association with slavery and the accompanying notion (however warped) that “black” intrinsically denotes something intrinsically “lower” than other races. Obviously, we have racism in Britain as well, but it’s not embedded into the nation’s entire historical fabric in the way that it so tragically is in the US.

Yutolia the Green Hash Pronoun Boner
Yutolia the Green Hash Pronoun Boner
2 years ago

OMG, this guy… he’s using descriptivism to excuse his own use of colloquial terms but prescriptivism to apply to everyone else’s usage. When I have time later today I will do a much more thorough go over and rip him a new one, again!!

Yutolia the Green Hash Pronoun Boner
Yutolia the Green Hash Pronoun Boner
2 years ago

Also, if I ever decide I need a stage name for my singing career, Electric Vulvaloo is going to be it.

Robert
Robert
2 years ago

I sometimes wonder about other people’s interior lives (since realizing that they, too, have them)*. In Bullen’s case, I prefer not to; I’m not sure which would be more disturbing, that he realizes what he looks like to the rest of us, or that he doesn’t.

*See: sonder.

Snowberry
Snowberry
2 years ago

Reminds me of a time when I saw someone who did not understand the concept of difficulty with translation, insisting that all languages were the exactly the same… just with the words being spelled/pronounced very differently and sometimes being in a different order. They got dogpiled by people who gave lots of examples of how languages encode information differently, how some words have no exact equivalent in most other languages, and how idioms vary considerably by language and/or culture. They doubled down repeatedly until the thread was finally locked.

John
John
2 years ago

He appears to have taken his essay down and replaced it with the lyrics to a Bob Dylan song.

Ohlmann
Ohlmann
2 years ago

@Wetherby : while your post seem true and while I don’t want to make it look you malicious, I would however say that the same argument is used about the french word for black (noir), and here in France it’s at least partially wrong.

While the equivalent to the USA african american is the “arab” (who is used on any muslim who isn’t black or white, don’t think only actual arabian are concerned), the stigma on black being lazy and only good at being servant is still alive, and only somewhat masked by how more common attack against “arabs” are. It took me a bit of time to actually see it, because they aren’t as common and also are more paternalizing and less directly aggressive.

I guess there is a sort of racism treadmill, where the most recent target tend to hide the other, but thoses targets still aren’t exactly fully out of the acceptable targets. It’s decently easy in France to find slur referencing racism against portugueses and italians after the much more common slur on black people, and then on arabs.

Bookworm in hijab
Bookworm in hijab
2 years ago

I think my *favourite* (ha) part of this has been the dude’s mansplaining of what the term “mansplaining” means. It’s just…so meta…

@Ohlmann, if you haven’t already come across it, you might like Edwy Plenel’s book Pour les musulmans. He addresses a lot of what you said, and it’s a great book.

Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
2 years ago

He appears to have taken his essay down and replaced it with the lyrics to a Bob Dylan song.

“How many times must a man mansplain…
Before they call him a man”

Actually, his commentary wanders around like “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts”…

“Vulva, Vagins and the Jack of Ass”??? 🙂

Bookworm in hijab
Bookworm in hijab
2 years ago

“How many times must a man mansplain…
Before they call him a man”

Well, don’t stop there! We need the whole song!

Sheila Crosby
2 years ago

If he’d said that vagina was a better word choice, that would have been defensible, although I’d still disagree. I don’t mind people being picky over word choice. I’ve argued with editors over the correct plural of octopus. But that’s clearly not what’s happening here, because he’s so very careless about species, genus and soleciscistic.
As several people have said, it’s about him not being wrong. To quote the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “In cases of major discrepancy it’s always reality that’s got it wrong.”

Wetherby
Wetherby
2 years ago

Reminds me of a time when I saw someone who did not understand the concept of difficulty with translation, insisting that all languages were the exactly the same… just with the words being spelled/pronounced very differently and sometimes being in a different order. They got dogpiled by people who gave lots of examples of how languages encode information differently, how some words have no exact equivalent in most other languages, and how idioms vary considerably by language and/or culture. They doubled down repeatedly until the thread was finally locked.

I once had an argument with someone that originated from the fact that he took a metaphorical British English idiom absolutely literally (he wasn’t a native speaker) – but, rather like Mr Bullen, he point-blank refused to accept that he’d made a mistake and doubled
down relentlessly, insisting that he knew better than I did what I’d written, despite the obvious absurdity. In the end he deleted all his posts once it became clear that nobody was coming to his defence and everyone was backing me up instead (hardly surprisingly).

But what struck me about that encounter was his overweening confidence that he must be right, despite the fact that as a native speaker I (and most participants in the conversation) clearly had an automatic advantage over him.

Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
2 years ago

@ Bookworm:

🙂 🙂 🙂 (with appropriate apologies to Bob Dylan)

How many ‘splains must a man mansplain
Before they call out his shit
How many tweets must the self-righteous tweet
Before he’s shown t’be a twit
How many pages of text long-winded disser-tary
Umm… treatises will he commit

The answer, Mammotheers, will bring you all to tears
The answer is worse than all your fears…

Yes, ‘n’ how many times ever down will he double
Before he sees that he’s lost
Yes, ‘n’ how many Twitter-tweeters can he amuse
Before he sees he’s been bossed
Yes, ‘n’ how many Vulvae must we see Vaginized
In this tragic and grammatic holocaust

The answer, Mammotheers, will bring you all to tears
The answer is worse than all your fears…

Yes, ‘n’ how many words must a man look up
Before he can see the definition?
Yes, ‘n’ how much gyno-logic must one twit hear
Before he can make an admission?
Yes, ‘n’ how much solecism will it take till he knows
That he’s on a su-icide mission?

The answer, Mammotheers, will bring you all to tears
The answer is worse than all your fears…

Aaron
Aaron
2 years ago

Is “black” really considered “semi-derogatory” in American English? That hasn’t really been my experience. In fact, I’ve noticed a recent movement away from “African-American” and to “black.” (Sometimes it’s capitalized, ie Black, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me.)

I suppose it ultimately depends on tone, context and circumstances, but that’s true for all words that deal with charged subjects.

Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
2 years ago

Is “black” really considered “semi-derogatory” in American English?

black arts, black mark, black sheep, black hat…

shall I go on? while some, if not all of these come from legitimate sources, e.g. “black sheep” was bad because it gave wool that was hard to dye, the current usage is that of “black” being a negative.

not to put a negative on George Lucas or or Joseph Campbell, there was a reason Darth Vader wore a black outfit (when all the other imperial Stormies wore white), and good guys always wear white hats.

Aaron
Aaron
2 years ago

black arts, black mark, black sheep, black hat…

shall I go on? while some, if not all of these come from legitimate sources, e.g. “black sheep” was bad because it gave wool that was hard to dye, the current usage is that of “black” being a negative.

Well of course, but I meant that “black” as used to describe black people does not generally seem to be considered derogatory in America. Sorry if I was unclear.

Bina
2 years ago

Oh, sweet JEEBUS.

If I had ever written such a pompously, pretentiously wrong piece of twaddle when I was a mere undergrad English major, I’d have been flunked nine ways till Friday.

A vulva is a vulva, a vagina is a vagina, and Paul Bullen is a dick.

That is all.