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Pedants' corner

Ignorant does not mean rude!

30 replies

wem · 24/02/2010 20:16

Arrrrrrrrggggggghhh! It makes my brain itch in a way no misplaced apostrophe ever has.

How has it become common usage? How how how?

OP posts:
BitOfFun · 24/02/2010 20:19

It is vile, I agree. And so ignorant.

NoahAndTheWhale · 24/02/2010 20:21

It makes me want to throw things and scream a lot

posieparker · 24/02/2010 20:23

Isnt' it because the person who is rude does it out of ignorance?

Hate posting here i fill so nervuss

Do you like what I did with my apostrophe?

AitchTwoOhOneOh · 24/02/2010 20:27

it does make me chuckle when you try to excuse someone going off on one by saying 'pay no heed, it's borne of ignorance' or words to that effect and they turn up going BALLISTIC and want to duff you up for insulting them.

BitOfFun · 24/02/2010 20:30

People aren't rude because they are ignorant. They are rude because they are twats. Some twats have PHDs, you know.

theyoungvisiter · 24/02/2010 20:33

I pretty much don't care about changing usage of words like this. It's just normal language creep - as Posy says, the person who is rude is doing it because they're ignorant of correct manners, and gradually it's crept to be used as rude, full stop.

I am a fully confessed pedant but you can't get cross about these gradual metamorphoses, or hold back the tide.

Otherwise we'd still all be using "silly" to mean happy or blessed, which was its original definition, many moons ago.

posieparker · 24/02/2010 20:36

I agree BoF, I always think rude and not ignorant unless it's someone that looks as if they've been dragged up!

AitchTwoOhOneOh · 24/02/2010 20:38

i think this example is inherently amusing, though, tyv.

wem · 24/02/2010 20:38

The people who use ignorant to mean rude aren't doing it to say, 'he was so rude, but I guess he didn't know any better', which could be the only situation where it might apply, they are just calling them rude.

I really cannot get my head around how it has happened.

OP posts:
50ftQueenie · 24/02/2010 20:43

I find that lots of people mix up arrogant and ignorant. Would that apply in the situations you're thinking of wem?

wem · 24/02/2010 20:48

theyoungvisiter - I'm generally not bothered if language changes, that's what it does. But normally you can see why. It's bothering me because it seems like such a huge leap to have made. Why 'ignorant'? Why not 'inordinate'?

OP posts:
theyoungvisiter · 24/02/2010 20:48

I think it's partly because it sounds more insulting than saying "he's bloody rude".

But "he's bloody ignorant" chips away the dignity of the person a bit more. It implies they're so stupid, they barely even know they're being rude (even though they clearly actually do).

wem · 24/02/2010 20:50

hmmmm, 50ftQueenie, you could be on to something there. It doesn't quite fit with my recent examples, but it could be a link.

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FattipuffsandThinnifers · 24/02/2010 20:53

Yep, dreadful. It isn't a suitable alternative to 'rude' because it just doesn't mean the same thing. I'm with you on the arrrrrggghhhh all the way.

tyv it can't mean that though, can it, as ignorant doesn't mean stupid either.

(Btw hope this isn't a thread about a thread )

theyoungvisiter · 24/02/2010 20:54

I honestly don't think it's such a huge leap - if you listen to what people shout when they're cross "are you effing stupid?" is one of the commonest questions in an argument, which is really just another way of saying "you're ignorant".

People usually use "ignorant" when they are cross about someone's rudeness and want to put them down. The implication that the rude person is too stupid to understand normal social rules and the effect their behaviour has on others, is the most cutting insult people can come up with off the cuff.

I don't think that's that baffling or inexplicable.

wem · 24/02/2010 20:56

Sorry, it's really not a thread about a thread, honest. Well I guess it is, but only because it reminded me of a couple of recent RL examples.

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theyoungvisiter · 24/02/2010 20:59

Sorry, x-posted.

Ignorant doesn't precisely mean stupid, no, but it can do. Being ignorant of the ending of Paradise Lost or the coding of the human genome or whatever, obviously doesn't equate to stupidity.

But in the context of rudeness it does pretty much mean stupid, because it's saying "you don't know the basic social rules and you're unaware of the effect your behaviour is having".

theyoungvisiter · 24/02/2010 21:01

"By 50ftQueenie Wed 24-Feb-10 20:43:20
I find that lots of people mix up arrogant and ignorant. Would that apply in the situations you're thinking of wem? "

The last time I heard it used was a mum in a doctor's surgery, and her child was careering around crashing into people. She grabbed it and said "don't be bloody ignorant".

I guess she meant; I've told you not to do this, you know you're not supposed to do this, stop pretending you don't know.

wem · 24/02/2010 21:01

tyv - I suppose. The jump from ignorant to stupid is less troubling (though still wrong ).

OP posts:
wem · 24/02/2010 21:04

That's quite a specific example where it sort of works though. The times it's made me cringe, there was no way they meant anything other than rude. They didn't think the other person was stupid, or didn't realise what they were doing, they just thought they were rude.

OP posts:
FattipuffsandThinnifers · 24/02/2010 21:06

Mmm I suppose it can - but being pedantic, it's incorrect. And this is Pedants' corner after all

theyoungvisiter · 24/02/2010 21:25

I really don't mind - there are just too many to get cross about. Like fit, or fantastic, or incredible, or sensible, or glamour, or any of the million and other words that have taken on a meaning quite different from what they actually meant in the quite recent past.

The ones that bug me are the ones where people think they're using a word correctly but it's actually a totally different word to the one they think they're using.

Like "disinterested" which has now become almost main stream. That's not a word which has evolved to gain additional meaning. That's just people not knowing what it actually means and guessing - wrongly. Or "discrete" and "discreet". Again, not language evolving - that's just an error.

bruceb · 26/02/2010 13:16

tyv - like the 'er' at the end. Nice touch.

Personally, I agree with tyv. This one is less annoying than others - rude has come from 'uneducated' - peasants used to be rude fellows; while ignorant comes from the French for to be unaware of, so they're not that distinct in meaning.

Bonsoir · 26/02/2010 13:20

I disagree with the OP.

A lot of rudeness is borne of ignorance. It actually requires quite a lot of intelligence and skill to be well-mannered in most situations.

My MIL is a prime example of someone who is terribly ignorant, and therefore does not know how to behave appropriately in unknown circumstances. Hence she comes across as frightfully rude!

UnquietDad · 26/02/2010 13:24

I agree with youngvisiter about the distinction above. But I would put "ignorant" in the second category of words, like "disinterested" and do on - where people don't know the correct usage and the wrong usage is becoming artificially "correctified" (I know, I know) through usage.

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