Jennifer D. Wade Journal

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Blog posts December 2011

Occupy This!

I feel like I'm a little behind schedule with this post, but time marches on, and on January 6, 2012, the fine members of the AMERICAN DIALECT SOCIETY will meet in Portland, Oregon to choose the 2011 Word of the Year (WOTY). You can read the complete schedule HERE.

You may recall that I correctly PREDICTED (OK, I flat-out guessed) that the 2010 WOTY would be "app." You couldn't turn around without hearing the phrase "there's an app for that." The word was everywhere. If only there had been an app to make it go away ...

Anyway, since I'm on a one-year hot streak, I'll have a go at picking the 2011 Word of the Year. I don't have a lot of thoughts about it, but I think there's one obvious choice: the word "occupy." The movement to Occupy Wall Street as a protest against corporate power and greed spread to cities all across the US. There is even a small group of people that has occupied Scranton by camping out for months on Courthouse Square. As far as I know, however, no one has tried to Occupy Wilkes-Barre. (insert joke here)

The movement itself has gotten a lot of media attention as the longevity of the protests has increased and as attempts to move protesters have sometimes become violent. Because the Occupy movement is so high-profile, the word "occupy" has naturally been adapted for use in areas that have nothing to do with the movement itself. For example, when the company I work for installed a computer program called Opus, signs reading "Occupy Opus" appeared in the newsroom during the training process.

So, I feel that "occupy" has a good chance of occupying the top spot in the WOTY contest. Nothing else is really coming to mind.

If you want to submit a nomination for the 2011 Word of the Year, you can do so by emailing, tweeting to the Twitter user name @americandialect or using the hashtag #woty11, or they can be posted on our FACEBOOK PAGE.

May the best word win!

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Shut Up Already!

Jerry Sandusky isn't doing himself any favors. Neither is his lawyer.

Sandusky is the former Penn State defensive coordinator accused of sexually molesting young boys. The grand jury presentment outlines 40 counts involving eight boys (now adults). A ninth boy (now an adult) claims he was also molested by Sandusky and is filing a civil suit. News reports today indicated a 10th accuser was ready to come forward. My guess is he won't be the last.

Next week, Sandusky is scheduled for his preliminary hearing at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte. So many media plan to attend that the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters is helping to arrange parking for satellite trucks and a lottery is being held to determine which reporters get to sit in the courtroom and which ones will be relegated to an "overflow room." Indications are that all eight accusers mentioned in the presentment are prepared to testify and face cross-examination by Sandusky's attorney, JOSEPH AMENDOLA. The hearing has the potential to last for several days.

Now, if I were Amendola, my strategy would be to keep Sandusky as out of sight as possible. I, Amendola, would speak for him. But, I'm not Joe Amendola, and he doesn't seem to share my thinking. No. He allowed Jerry Sandusky to do a phone interview with Bob Costas - in fact, he offered Costas the chance to talk with Sandusky - and allowed that interview to be broadcast nationally. Then, incredibly, he recently allowed Sandusky to sit down with a reporter from the New York Times and he allowed that interview to be videotaped.

In the interview with Bob Costas, Sandusky said he regretted showering with young boys. Then, he was asked directly if he is sexually attracted to young boys. Instead of quickly and emphatically answering, "No!" Sandusky paused, repeated the question and then said that he enjoyed being around young boys but wasn't sexually attracted to them." Not exactly a convincing denial.

Sandusky flubbed the answer again when the NYT interviewer asked almost the exact same question. This time, Sandusky elaborated further by saying that he is attracted to young people and old people - at which point his lawyer can be heard off-camera saying, "but not sexually attracted." Sandusky then said no, he was not sexually attracted to young people, but he enjoyed being around them. Again, not exactly a resounding denial. You can watch the interview below.

I think what came through clearly in the NYT interview is that Jerry Sandusky is not a well-spoken man. He does not express himself well verbally. I guess X's and O's are his thing, not words. My suspicion is that his vocabulary isn't very large and, after listening to the interview, I can see where he would relate best to the young and the old as they are likely less intellectually challenging than someone in their prime years. In fact, after hearing Sandusky speak, I wonder how he survived for so many years on a college campus. You would think that he would have at least picked up some of the academic verbage and speech patterns along the way.

Sandusky and his lawyer must have had hours of conversation before that first interview with Bob Costas. I can't believe his lawyer thought it was a good defense strategy to let a man with Sandusky's speaking skills (or lack thereof) do an interview on national TV. And, then, after seeing how that went over, I can't believe he let Sandusky do another high-profile interview!

If I'm Sandusky's lawyer, there's no way I let him do a third interview. But, I'm not Sandusky's lawyer.

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