The word “other” is commonly used in English as both an adjective and a pronoun. As an adjective: “born on the other side of the tracks.” As a pronoun: “if it’s not one thing, it’s the other.” Today I’d like to submit for your consideration the word “other” as a verb. Examples? “Dude, don’t other me,” and “she was in a terrible mood, othering everybody the whole evening.”
Here is my proposed dictionary entry for the next Merriam Webster:
1. to attribute qualities onto another person, often a celebrity in the news, so as to avoid acknowledging these same qualities within oneself:
[as verb. ] hey, don’t other Clinton, most married men have done stuff like that | I went to a meeting with the Dalai Lama. It was great but people tend to other him by putting him above them.
For the last ten days, our latest “otherfest” has focused on Rep. Anthony Weiner, whose name made him a larger-than-life-Disney-cartoon disaster waiting to happen. Republicans are having a field day, of course, and even the members of his own party are calling for his resignation. Now don’t get me wrong here. I’m not advocating sending snaps of your private parts to women you hardly know. I don’t condone lying, or emotionally abandoning your recently pregnant wife. Probably everyone, including Rep. Weiner himself, agrees that these actions were stupid, immature, and hurtful to other people.
We can learn from this and many other current events, however, by shifting our attention from “what that terrible, despicable, lying rotten good for nothing over there did,” to “why are we getting so upset about this, and giving it so much attention?” (more…)