Lael Ewy

Language commentator

Lael Ewy is a co-founder and editor of EastWesterly Review, a journal of literary satire at www.postmodernvillage.com and a writer whose work has appeared in such venues as Denver Quarterly, New Orleans Review, and has been anthologized in Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh.

He provided commentary for the Wichita City Paper and journalism for Naked City.

He holds an MFA in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of General Studies from Wichita State. Lael supports his writing and reading habits as a lecturer in English at WSU and as a peer educator at WSU's Center for Community Support and Research.

He runs an unaccredited Volvo hospice and is the current caretaker of a family heirloom, a 1965 Ford Mustang.

For fun he wrestles philosophy and literary theory.

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OnWords: Arble-garble

May 3, 2016


As a student of online political writing, I’ve sometimes run across the term “arble-garble.”

OnWords: Huge

Apr 19, 2016


I’ll try not to spend the next several minutes on the word “huge” just making fun of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. 

But I think The Donald’s obsession with “yoodge” things is a great example of how we think in the US of A.

OnWords: Evil

Apr 5, 2016

We use the word “evil” when we want to stop thinking about the roots of unacceptable behavior.

Look at how often the word “evil” is preceded by the words “just plain,” as in “Them Moozlim ter’rists is just plain evil, is all it is.”

This use runs across lines of party and principle, and it serves to literally demonize the other side. Liberals label giant corporations evil, and conservatives have used the term on Hillary Clinton.

As recently as 50 years ago, the subject of evil was up for philosophical debate. Today, we don’t try to understand it at all.

OnWords: Print

Mar 22, 2016


Many words have been written both in print and online worrying about how we’re writing too many words online and not enough in print.  

“Authority” is a word we associate with positions of power. Authority in this sense comes from the role you fill, not from the personal qualities you possess.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, though, authority’s Latin root means, among other things, to originate, to promote, to increase or make grow.

At its origins, authority is distinct from power, but it can embody its own kind of power.

When I was growing up, my cousins and I were sometimes accused of being honyocks.

“Honyock” was applied to us by older relatives who were tired of our noise and horseplay and just wanted us to settle down and cut it out already. 

Online sources of varying quality contend that “honyock” is either a Hungarian word making fun of country folk or an English word making fun of Hungarians. One source even says that “honyock” comes from German and means “honey chaser.”

Time-shifting technologies such as DVRs and Netflix have created the need for the term “spoiler alert.” Since not all of us access our favorite movies and TV shows at the same time these days, those who saw them first can reveal things we’d rather see ourselves.

“Spoiler alert,” though, tells us a lot about how contemporary storytelling gets done and what kind of stories we now find compelling.

The “spoiler” is usually tied to an unexpected plot twist or shocking revelation, a deus ex machina (define) for the online era.

Terms like “climate denier” tend to make language sticklers blanch.

After all, those who carry this label do not deny that there is a climate; they just dismiss humanity’s role in changing it.

Language sticklers also object to such things as the suffix “gate” for denoting political scandals. Using “gate” this way derives from the Watergate scandal that took down Nixon, but notably this term for Nixon’s problems come from the fact that it happened at the Watergate hotel.

OnWords: Campaign Rhetoric

Jan 12, 2016
donaldjtrump.com

 

    

Headed into yet another election cycle, we all have the opportunity to wade through a deep sewer of campaign rhetoric.

For lost souls who insist that language ought to correspond to reality, this can be a difficult time. Fact-checking websites have a field day comparing what candidates say with what reliable sources claim to be true.

OnWords: Happy Holidays

Dec 29, 2015

I started bidding people “happy holidays” a long time ago.

For my part, this greeting has nothing to do with a war on Christmas or political correctness. It’s really about laziness and respect.

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