Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Pet peeve.

Is anyone else bugged by this new use of the preposition "around"? I've only noticed it in queer activist/academic circles since the 80s, but that may be because of my taste in reading material. What bothers me, besides the jargoniness of it, is its imprecision. It's used to mean "having to do with" as in "questions around gender," or to mean "about" as in "conversation around sex," or "regarding," as in "knowledge, attitudes, and practices around influenza vaccination." When I see it in a sentence, it implies frustration because, for me, it invokes the "everything near, but not including" or "everything but" sense of the word "around."

My theory is that this usage came about among activists because, at least as I remember from my ACT UP/Queer Nation days, a lot of the discussion was not really about anything as much as it was just going around and around and around with the same problems, arguments, grievances, and issues.

Does anyone know where and when this started? And why? It doesn't seem like quite the right word in any of the above examples, but maybe I'm missing something. Do we need this new sense of "around"?

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