Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Rove on people being 'unreceiving' of George W. Bush

... and Wonkette dumps him in our professional lap:
Gifted Linguist Karl Rove Will Expose “Unreceiving” [Sic] Bush Staffers
Karl Rove’s forthcoming Kunstlerroman, An American Wife, will identify everyone who was “unreceiving” [sic] of Bush’s agenda, thus ensuring that it will the longest book ever published.
I like Wonkette's writing a lot, and this use of linguist is probably part of their shtick; let's hope so.

So, what about that word? I'm guessing he just misspoke, and unreceptive might well have been the target. With something like this, you figure that English is morphologically supple enough and the pieces are common and productive enough that people have created the form time and time, even if it's not a familiar one. And they have. The particular morphological form is attested almost 500 years ago:
1566 in Three 15th Cent. Chron. (Camden) 138 To quyat ye matter ye churche dores wer fayn to be closyd, and ye paryschyns to departe unreseyvynge for that day.
But we have a very different meaning from Rove's. Likewise if you google it, where you get a fair number of hits — it's mostly about the act of undoing the receipt of something you've ordered. You also get stuff about the failure to receive, e.g. a signal, a modern version of the 1566 quote, I suppose. If only we had been truly unreceiving of Bush in these senses!

Image from here.

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