Advice on manners and morals.
Jan. 30 1999 3:30 AM

(Continued from Page 1)

I am disgusted and wonder what you think of this.

Advertisement

--Burned Up in Northern California

Dear Burn,

Prudie thinks the old adage is true: Money doesn't care who has it. While Prudie knows that animal lovers are a fiercely loyal lot (and vociferous too), there is no recourse from these monetary gifts to fur-bearing recipients. You feel disgust, Prudie feels regret, but you must put aside your mad-on and get back to business.

--Prudie, philosophically

Dear Prudie,

I just noticed that you used the word "empathetic." Please see the attached letter previously sent to Slate (but not published) as to why "empathetic" should not be used. Despite my letter I see that Slate has let that word slip through again.

--Alan Church, Lexington, Ky.

Dear Al,

Prudie never intended to go to William Safire-land with linguistic matters ... but what the hell! Here are the highlights of your (unpublished) letter for the edification of those Prudie people and Slate editors who might be interested:

Slate contributes to the continuing degradation of the language. It seems that only psychologists know that the word is "empathically," not "empathetically," as used in David Edelstein's review of Unmade Beds. While you will find "empathetic" in some dictionaries, that is only because so many people have (mis)used it, thinking if it is sympathy/sympathetic it must be empathy/empathetic. Not so.

Have you noticed that almost no one uses "reticent" correctly anymore? And now, 20 years after I predicted it, I notice that some dictionaries offer "reluctant" as a meaning for "reticent." And of course "disinterested" has come to mean "uninterested." Where will it all end?

  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Dec. 17 2014 12:27 PM Listen to Our Ultimate Holiday Playlist Holiday tracks for the season, exclusively for Slate Plus members.