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#171876 - 12/05/07 09:29 AM so-called confusion
Krakatua Offline
stranger

Registered: 01/22/07
Posts: 6
I’m curious about the term “so-called” and it’s proper usage. In the past I seemed to only notice it when it was used with condescension or for somewhat dubious concepts. However, I have noticed it used more often for seeming well know concepts.

Does anyone have an opinion on this?
OH and what's up with the Hyphen?
Thanks

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#171878 - 12/05/07 10:39 AM Re: so-called confusion [Re: Krakatua]
Faldage Offline
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Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
I'd say your perception of the condescension or dubiousness is correct. Can't say off-hand that I've seen it used less pejoratively, though. Have any citations?

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#171879 - 12/05/07 10:45 AM Re: so-called confusion [Re: Krakatua]
dalehileman Offline
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Registered: 07/10/05
Posts: 1773
Loc: Apple Valley, CA, USA
Krak: Welcome

It's another example of what I call smearing and what others call semantic shift, diluting the Mother Tongue as a term takes on more and more new meanings. Eg, "Beg a question" meant asking in such a way as to imply or suggest a predetermined answer. "Drive" used to be a mechanical device

The time is coming when any word can come to mean anything at all and so it doesn't matter how you say it. These things used to bother me before I turned in my credentials as a prescriptivist. I am dalehileman@verizon.net
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dalehileman

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#171880 - 12/05/07 10:59 AM Re: so-called confusion [Re: dalehileman]
of troy Offline
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Posts: 5400
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i think the new usage dates back to the TV show (mid 1990's) with claire dane, "my so-called life' about teen age angst.

(tough times in an uppermiddle class home, with lots of spending money, lots of things, and professional career parents, who still had time to sit and have long talks with their teens (who didn't experiment with drugs, sex or other life style choices. )
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#171882 - 12/05/07 11:08 AM Re: so-called confusion [Re: Faldage]
Krakatua Offline
stranger

Registered: 01/22/07
Posts: 6
I saw it this morning, but I have seen it other times as well that I can't quote.

(“NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams” narrowly overtook “World News With Charles Gibson” on ABC to become the most-watched of the three network evening newscasts in November, a so-called sweeps month regarded by advertisers and the networks as a bellwether of the broadcasts’ fortunes.)

I have heard of sweeps and have seen them widely labled WITHOUT "so-called" being attached. But seeing it this morning made me really wonder when it should or should not be used.

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#171883 - 12/05/07 11:30 AM Re: so-called confusion [Re: Krakatua]
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10521
Loc: this too shall pass
let's see what the OED shows..

2. In attributive use (hyphened): Called or designated by this name or term, but not properly entitled to it or correctly described by it. Also loosely or catachr. as a term of abuse.
More recently, and now quite commonly (esp. in technical contexts), used merely to call attention to the description, without implication of incorrectness, as in (b). Cf. Du. zoogenaamd, -genoemd, -gezeid, G. sogenannt.

(a) 1837 CARLYLE Fr. Rev. II. I. ii, The Right Side..persists..in considering..all these so-called Decrees as mere temporary whims. 1862 MILLER Elem. Chem., Org. (ed. 2) i. §2. 39 The so-called elementary bodies being really compounds of at least two atoms of the true element. 1884 PENNINGTON Wiclif vi. 193 Their so-called poverty is nothing else but a diabolical lie. 1888 O. WILDE in Woman's World I. 134/2 ‘This so-called nineteenth century’{em}as an impassioned young orator once termed it, after a contemptuous diatribe against the evils of modern civilisation. 1960 C. S. LEWIS Studies in Words ix. 226 Rose Macaulay noticed a tendency to prefix ‘so called’ to almost any adjective when it was used of those the speaker hated; the final absurdity being reached when people referred to the Germans as ‘these so-called Germans’. 1980 W. SAFIRE in N.Y. Times Mag. 13 Jan. 6/1 Examples of sneer words are ‘self-proclaimed’, ‘would-be’, ‘purported’ and that Soviet favorite, ‘so-called’.
(b) 1886 C. E. PASCOE Lond. of To-day xl. (ed. 3) 341 The leading so-called linendrapers of the metropolis. a1961 in WEBSTER, s.v., His heavy working schedule did not keep the student out of so-called campus politics. 1962 R. CARSON Silent Spring viii. 86 The so-called Dutch elm disease entered the United States from Europe about 1930. 1966 G. GREENE Comedians I. ii. 46 New buildings..built for an international exhibition in so-called modern style. 1968 Physics Bull. Nov. 373/1 The socalled Schrödinger representation. 1977 C. SAGAN Dragons of Eden ii. 41 Many spinal-cord neurons seem to have about 10,000 synapses, and the so-called Purkinje cells of the cerebellum may have still more. 1979 P. NIHALANI et al. Indian & Brit. English I. 164 A number of so-called transformational grammarians are to attend the teachers' conference at Krishnapur next week.


as you can see, using it 'merely to call attention' has been going on for a while.

edit: it should be noted that in predicative use, so called by grammarians, it is properly wtihout hyphen and means 'called or designated by that name.'

well, it's easy to see how that became so-called "smeared".

-joe (so called) friday


Edited by tsuwm (12/05/07 11:40 AM)

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#171884 - 12/05/07 11:47 AM Re: so-called confusion [Re: tsuwm]
zmjezhd Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 3290
Loc: R'lyeh
as you can see, using it 'merely to call attention' has been going on for a while

Welcome, Beppo, to the soi-disant darker (i.e., more descriptive) side.

zmj (smear the bagel) ezhd
_________________________
Ceci n'est pas un seing.

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#171885 - 12/05/07 11:55 AM Re: so-called confusion [Re: zmjezhd]
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10521
Loc: this too shall pass
Beppo

-joe (now there's a smear) friday

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#171887 - 12/05/07 12:06 PM Re: so-called confusion [Re: tsuwm]
zmjezhd Offline
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Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 3290
Loc: R'lyeh
Beppo

As usual, Wikipedia leaves out the salient jus du mot. Beppo is the Italian hypocoristic form of Giusepe 'Joseph', hence 'Joe'. No shmir intended (on my part). As for G-d's chimp, talk to the Colbert about it.)

zmj (spitzname) ezhd
_________________________
Ceci n'est pas un seing.

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#171952 - 12/07/07 05:41 PM Re: so-called confusion [Re: zmjezhd]
Hydra Offline
addict

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 631
The hyphen makes the two words into an adjective.

"The book is well-known."

Sometimes the distinction is necessary.

"He drank from a well known to be poisoned."

Or,

"He couldn't remember my name, and so called me thingamabob."

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