A discussion of pedantry

When the doyens of talk.origins are not engaged in dissecting dubious claims advanced by hapless creationists they cross lances in various forms of verbal one-upmanship. One of their forms of combat is the competition for “pedantry points”. What is a pedantry point, you ask? Why that very question is the subject of meta-discussion by the doyens. Read on, little grasshopper, and be enlightened.

Au contraire, mon ami. It is the mop up points that are the most valued. The mark of the true pedant is the application of pettifogging exactitude which contributes nothing save irrelevant precision.

Indeed, splendidly put, sir. I feel constrained to point out, however, that the word “pettifogging”, while tolerable, is perhaps not the ideal choice for your purpose; its suggestion of chicanery and equivocation is ill-suited to the spirit of true pedantry. I would, with hesitation, suggest instead the use either of “punctilious” or of “painstaking”, the former having the nicer ring to it, the latter being the more accurate. While I am on the subject of details, I might also point out that your final sentence would probably be marginally improved by the substitution of “that” for “which” (although I am aware that many authorities would disagree with me on this point). And, finally, the less said about the unfortunate business of the missing hyphen, the better.

Chris “meta-pedantic” Ho-Stuart:
The essense of pedantry is not merely to supply trivia, but to correct with excruciating exactitude a minor error of fact in some other post, such that the correct formulation adds nothing whatever to the point being discussed.

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This page was last updated May 12, 1996.