Saturday, August 03, 2002

What's a Pundit?

Pundit is an appenation that many use to describe themselves. I wonder how many realize what the word really means. And, do reporters have the right to use it?

The modern English word pundit is related to the Hindi word pandit, which means teacher of science, law, and religion or spiritual matters. Rather than an adjective, it is an appelation, or title. Jawaharlal Nehru was referred to as Pandit Nehru, which meant a cross between teacher and father. It was an endearing title, bestowed upon few. It implies trust and respect, as well as as well as wisdom borne of knowledge and experience. The English pundit means someone who has been admitted to membership in a scholarly field, and it has, of course, come to mean opinion leader or critic.

That covers a lot of ground but, as a conservative, I still haven't gotten over my English professor teaching that there is no difference between imply and infer. The verbification of the English language is more than I can effort to get used to as well. To me, words have meaning; usually their original meaning, allowing for definition creep. But pundit can't mean critic. Not in my lexicon. Bill Quick and Glenn Reynolds have the perfect right to use the term. Fred Barnes, Sam Donaldson and Al Hunt do not. No wisdom. They have nothing to teach me. But me, I don't have the chutzpah to call myself a pundit. I only have the chutzpah to call myself a thinker. But I'm not much of a linker. I blog because I have to get the stuff out. When I see that someone reads it, I am surprised and humbled. And then there's the email. In the words of a great Dutchman, you always make my day with that.