From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:
Motte and Bailey vs. Outpost and Heartland
January 08, 2020
One oddity of discourse is that novel phrases seem more likely to catch on if their meanings are opaque than if they are self-evident. Having to know a semisecret code makes phrases such as “motte and bailey argument” more popular, not less.
For example, as a term for when something passes its peak, “jump the shark” has become an instant cliché in the 21st century. This is curious because to grasp its meaning, you have to have heard of a 1977 episode of the TV sitcom Happy Days in which Henry Winkler’s Fonzie, waterskiing in the ocean, is vaguely menaced by stock footage of a Jaws-like great white shark.
Personally, I missed seeing that episode.
Read the whole thing there.