(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Saturday, November 30, 2002

Supreme Court (I) Courtesy of the Goldstein Howe ScotusBlog, this ABC News/AP report on the White Mtn. Apache Tribe and Navajo Nation cases discussed below. The report says that a win for the Navajo Nation would be a $600 million "windfall". I had always thought that the word "windfall" had the connotation of something undeserved; if I'm right about this, then that implicit assertion of undeservedness, without any facts or legal argument to back up the assertion, is awfully lame news reporting. But the dictionaries around here say that "windfall" denotes merely unexpectedness; and so to call a win for the Navajo Nation a "windfall" would mean that ABC/AP is glibly betting heavily that the Supreme Court will reverse the Nation's victory in the lower court. Mostly, though, this probably just means that the writer was using the word "windfall" to mean only "wow, that's a lot of money!"; and the lesson here, a good one for all of us who write for public consumption, is "don't use a word unless you know what it means."

posted by sam 6:02 AM 0 comments


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