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Holten: A misnomer is a lie

Do you know what a misnomer is? If you ask Mr. Dictionary, the answer he gives is so vague you feel like you knew more before you asked him. The bottom line is a misnomer is a lie. Mr. Dictionary says it is a misapplied or inappropriate name or d...

2568110+0601 Holten.jpg

Do you know what a misnomer is? If you ask Mr. Dictionary, the answer he gives is so vague you feel like you knew more before you asked him. The bottom line is a misnomer is a lie. Mr. Dictionary says it is a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation. But that sounds like a lie.
Yet instead of calling it a lie, we call it a misnomer because, for some reason, we think we can water it down. Therefore, maybe it's just a white lie. But then, a white lie is still a lie. What is an example of a misnomer? Here's one: Did you know that Chinese checkers isn't actually checkers and that it didn't come from China. It was invented in Germany in 1892 and the name was changed in 1928 because someone thought a name change would make it more marketable. Apparently, the Chinese were more popular than Germans at the time. Here's some more: Koalas aren't actually bears, they are marsupials. Peanuts aren't nuts. Panama hats don't come from Panama, but Ecuador. French fries originated in Belgium. And strawberries aren't a berry. These are misnomers that meet every qualification of a lie but somewhere along the line they got misclassified as OK lies that are treated differently because we think they don't really mean to be wrong. But they are. In an indirect way, our kids can then assume that it's OK to be wrong, as long as we don't mean to be. Unfortunately, in the end the effect is the same, because the bottom line is an inaccuracy is a lie and can sometimes have ominous effects. What is a misnomer that is closer to home? Well, there's the one where we think that the $2-3 billion North Dakota Legacy Fund is a lot of money. Why is that a misnomer? It's a misnomer because if we eventually have to use it to clean up the state it'll be a mere pittance. Plus, it doesn't compare to other resource-fueled public funds. For example, Norway has channeled its North Sea oil wealth into a fund that now contains $840 billion. So, the bottom line here is that we've let a lot of oil money slip through our fingers. But it's OK because we didn't know any better, right? What are some other misnomers? We say that we are a democracy, but we are actually a republic. We think that our votes don't count, because of special-interest groups, but they really do. We also think that one man can't have much of an effect in the world but Hitler did, Stalin did and that goof is North Korea is certainly making his mark. Here are some other misnomers. An orca, or killer whale, is not a whale. It's the largest member of the dolphin family. Buffalo wings are actually chicken wings. A coconut is not a nut, it's a fruit. And a firefly is a beetle that flies, not a fly. Greenland is not a green, but it was called that to attract settlers. Another misnomer is that, in rodeo, a stock contractor ties a flank strap around a bucking horse or bull's genitals to make it buck. That is not the case. In reality, what they do is equivalent to tightening a belt around their waste. But, like racehorses, most bucking stock comes from a breeding line of great athletes that is often referred to as a "born to buck" program. If they don't want to perform, they won't. You can witness that at the rodeo in Medora this upcoming Friday and Saturday. Not only that, but the bucking stock in a rodeo lives the life of a celebrity and, at only 8 seconds of work per rodeo, their entire season of work adds up to only five minutes. A rodeo cowboy can only hope to be treated as well. That somehow reminds me of a quote by motivational speaker Zig Ziglar who once said, "If you treat your wife like a thoroughbred, you'll never end up with a nag."Do you know what a misnomer is? If you ask Mr. Dictionary, the answer he gives is so vague you feel like you knew more before you asked him.The bottom line is a misnomer is a lie. Mr. Dictionary says it is a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation. But that sounds like a lie.
Yet instead of calling it a lie, we call it a misnomer because, for some reason, we think we can water it down. Therefore, maybe it's just a white lie. But then, a white lie is still a lie.What is an example of a misnomer? Here's one: Did you know that Chinese checkers isn't actually checkers and that it didn't come from China. It was invented in Germany in 1892 and the name was changed in 1928 because someone thought a name change would make it more marketable. Apparently, the Chinese were more popular than Germans at the time.Here's some more: Koalas aren't actually bears, they are marsupials. Peanuts aren't nuts. Panama hats don't come from Panama, but Ecuador. French fries originated in Belgium. And strawberries aren't a berry.These are misnomers that meet every qualification of a lie but somewhere along the line they got misclassified as OK lies that are treated differently because we think they don't really mean to be wrong. But they are.In an indirect way, our kids can then assume that it's OK to be wrong, as long as we don't mean to be. Unfortunately, in the end the effect is the same, because the bottom line is an inaccuracy is a lie and can sometimes have ominous effects.What is a misnomer that is closer to home? Well, there's the one where we think that the $2-3 billion North Dakota Legacy Fund is a lot of money. Why is that a misnomer? It's a misnomer because if we eventually have to use it to clean up the state it'll be a mere pittance.Plus, it doesn't compare to other resource-fueled public funds. For example, Norway has channeled its North Sea oil wealth into a fund that now contains $840 billion. So, the bottom line here is that we've let a lot of oil money slip through our fingers. But it's OK because we didn't know any better, right?What are some other misnomers? We say that we are a democracy, but we are actually a republic. We think that our votes don't count, because of special-interest groups, but they really do. We also think that one man can't have much of an effect in the world but Hitler did, Stalin did and that goof is North Korea is certainly making his mark.Here are some other misnomers. An orca, or killer whale, is not a whale. It's the largest member of the dolphin family. Buffalo wings are actually chicken wings. A coconut is not a nut, it's a fruit. And a firefly is a beetle that flies, not a fly. Greenland is not a green, but it was called that to attract settlers.Another misnomer is that, in rodeo, a stock contractor ties a flank strap around a bucking horse or bull's genitals to make it buck. That is not the case.In reality, what they do is equivalent to tightening a belt around their waste. But, like racehorses, most bucking stock comes from a breeding line of great athletes that is often referred to as a "born to buck" program. If they don't want to perform, they won't. You can witness that at the rodeo in Medora this upcoming Friday and Saturday.Not only that, but the bucking stock in a rodeo lives the life of a celebrity and, at only 8 seconds of work per rodeo, their entire season of work adds up to only five minutes. A rodeo cowboy can only hope to be treated as well.That somehow reminds me of a quote by motivational speaker Zig Ziglar who once said, "If you treat your wife like a thoroughbred, you'll never end up with a nag."

Holten
Kevin Holten

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