So yesterday I read that the “embattled” president of the University of Colorado (which is “CU” on second reference, and if you know why, please explain) resigned. Just resigned? Oh, hell no. She resigned “amid turmoil.” Journalese strikes again.
Journalese is, of course, the language spoken only by journalists, although it sometimes pops into conversational speech, and it always sounds strange when it does. Take the word “controversy” in its many forms. Have you ever used that word casually? “That T-shirt will stir controversy with your principal,” say? Of course not. Which is why I’m always amused when someone does, like my friend John, who will sometimes ask a waitress, “Where are these alleged fries?”
Speaking of language, sooner or later we’re going to have to answer the “masturbate” question. I was raised to believe that “masturbate” is a, whaddayacallit? intransitive verb? Meaning, I think, that it ends where it ends. He masturbated. She masturbated. They masturbated. You don’t masturbate someone; it’s self-contained. Right? You can only do it to yourself. If you did it to someone else, it would no longer be masturbation, it would be manual stimulation that may or may not lead to orgasm.
But maybe I’m wrong. I keep reading about Michael Jackson masturbating some kid, sometimes while he’s masturbating himself. This just sounds wrong to me. Grammarians? Chime in.
I could check the transitive/intransitive thing if I could find my dictionary, but it’s in a box somewhere. The online dictionary I use just calls it a v.
That said, if I were assigning reporters to cover the M.J. trial, I’d certainly send Hank. I’m so glad someone did.