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I am swollen with pride. Last night I attended The New Criterion’s
Christmas party. If you don’t know TNC, it
is a monthly journal of conservative commentary on art, music, literature
and showbiz. (Mark Steyn does the showbiz–need I say more? If you don’t
have a subscription, GET ONE.) To call the TNC crowd “literate” is so
much of an understatement, similes fail me. If Al Qaeds had wiped out last
night’s gathering with a well-placed bomb, the gross IQ of New York City
would have dropped several points. Well, in conversation with a couple of
these folk, I used the verb “to barrack,” in the sense: “To jeer, heckle,
loudly dispute with.” They stopped me at once and challenged the word. (At
this level of literacy, life is one long Scrabble game.) We got out a
dictionary. Yep, it’s a word, and my usage was spot on. (Not only is it a
word, in fact, but its etymology seems to be Australian aborigine, which is
extremely unusual. If you don’t count words for specifically Australian
things like boomerangs and kangaroos, I don’t think there are more than a
dozen words of native Australian origin in the entire English language.)
For the last few hours I have been basking in the glow of having used a word
unknown to staffers at The New Criterion. Just couldn’t keep quiet about
this.



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