Look, I realize that language is a living thing and that it is constantly evolving and that that is what makes language so wonderful. I get that, I do. And I’m as annoyed by pedantic assholes as much as the next guy, but has anyone else noticed that the word “pundit” is being misused by pretty much everyone these days? And has anyone else noticed that dictionaries are starting to add new definitions in order to accommodate the people who are misusing it? From Merriam-Webster:
Main Entry: pun·dit
Etymology: Hindi pandit, from Sanskrit pandita, from pandita learned
1 : PANDIT
2 : a learned man : TEACHER
3 : a person who gives opinions in an authoritative manner usually through the mass media : CRITIC
Again, this is how language works. This is how words evolve and take on new meaning. But once in a while, it really bothers me when, through their misuse, words take on a new meaning that is almost the exact opposite of the original meaning (it literally burns my ass).
The first of those three definitions from above is Pandit:
Main Entry: pan·dit Pronunciation Guide
Etymology: Hindi pandit, from Sanskrit pandita
Date: circa 1828
: a wise or learned man in India — often used as an honorary title
So, an honorary title for someone who is wise or learned. That works well with the second definition (a learned man : TEACHER). So when did we decide to lump in people who give their opinion in an authoritative manner via mass media broadcast with the wise and learned? In fact, haven’t we learned time and again that the pretty people on television are almost always anything but wise and learned? And, that being the case, why would anyone want to hear what they have to say about anything? And more importantly, why would we start calling these people pundits?
Sean Hannity has been talking about fighting the tyranny of the Obama administration recently, which is just insane. That would make Barack Obama the first democratically elected tyrant I’ve ever heard of. I mean, really, doesn’t that completely destroy any credibility he may have had as someone who comments on politics and current events? Is this really someone you’re going to take seriously? Does that sound like the sort of thing a wise and learned man would say? Or is it more reminiscent of the paranoid and delusional ramblings of someone who spends his day walking around town holding up large signs?
He’s not a pundit, and neither are most of his peers. We’re using the word incorrectly.