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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Words on Wednesday: Blatantly

My students (and, I assume, other teens) tend not to use 'blatantly' in the same way I do. I've been telling Language classes for a few years now that there has possibly been some confusion and now merging between 'patently' and 'blatantly'.  To me, 'patently' means obviously, while 'blatantly' means in an unsubtle and obvious manner (which isn't quite the same as 'obviously'), while students use 'blatantly' as though it were synonymous with 'clearly'.  We also talk about how this is perhaps an example of bleaching (weakening the word's original meaning) or even broadening (since it used to mean a specific kind of obvious and is now used in the more general sense).

Poking around the internet and various reference books, I find that words such as 'flagrant' and 'unsubtle' are used in definitions of 'blatantly', while 'patently' is defined simply as 'obviously' or 'clearly' in most reference sources. However, some online sources (for example "Daily Writing Tips") define 'blatantly' as having a judgmental tone, making it similar to 'unashamedly', with the implication clearly that shame should be involved.

More interestingly still, Urban Dictionary - the source for youth and urban slang - simply equates 'blatant' with 'obvious', and includes the youth dialect versions of 'blate' and 'blates'. Finally, the Oxford Dictionaries site explains that 'blatantly' has been weakened in youth slang, to become a "stock intensifier".

It's not just me, then.

1 comment:

  1. Oh no, not just you at all. But thanks for the clarification - sometimes it's not just students who mess this up.

    ReplyDelete

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