Yahoo News, “Justice Antonin Scalia’s Most Unusual Word Choices”

October 8, 2013

Scott Bomboy (National Constitution Center), “Justice Antonin Scalia’s Most Unusual Word Choices” (Yahoo News, Oct. 8, 2013)

Ben Zimmer, who writes about words and language for The Wall Street Journal and produces Visual Thesaurus and, carefully explained the origins of “argle-bargle” on the Visual Thesaurus blog in June as a description of “a verbal dispute” or “a wrangling argument.” […]

And there was the historic battle in 2009 involving Scalia and a presenting lawyer over the use of the word “choate” in a case argument.

Randolph Barnhouse was arguing about a “choate” interest in property.

“There is no such adjective,” Scalia said. “I know we have used it, but there is no such adjective as ‘choate.’  There is ‘inchoate,’ but the opposite of inchoate is not choate.”

In a 2010 New York Times story, Zimmer explained it wasn’t the first time that Scalia took an attorney for using choate in his courtroom. In 1992, another attorney took a Scalia upbraiding during oral arguments for using the word.

Read the rest here.

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