Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: soi-disant.

soi-disant. “Soi-disant” = self-proclaimed. This French affectation is inferior both to the translation just given and to “self-styled.” E.g.: o “What it may need instead is an establishment with the nerve to tell the soi-disant [read ‘self-proclaimed’] victims: Stop kvetching.” Michael S. Greve, “Remote Control Tuning for Speech,” Wash. Times, 9 Nov. 1996, at D3. o “Our group was my wife, Olivia; my son, Nicholas, the soi-disant [read ‘self-styled’] surfer; [et al.].” Warren Hoge, “Where Wildlife Meets Wild Surf,” N.Y. Times, 16 Feb. 1997, § 5, at 11. Sometimes the gallicism is misused for “so-called” — e.g.: “When Paul Robeson sang the song in the London production of Show Boat in 1928, the biggest problem he had was wrapping his beautiful, impeccable vowels around the soi-disant [read ‘so-called’] dialect lyric.” Mark Steyn, “Paint It Black,” Am. Spectator, Mar. 1997, at 44, 46.
Quotation of the Day: “The only clue to bad tone is reading oneself after an interval and responding to the text like an unprepared reader. Phrases will then begin to sound hollow, and they will be judged falsehoods or padding or irrelevance.” Jacques Barzun & Henry F. Graff, “Clear Sentences: Right Emphasis and Right Rhythm” (1957), in Perspectives on Style 3, 19 (Frederick Candelaria ed., 1968).
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