Monday, March 26, 2012


It has become somewhat common to put the word gate at the end of any pseudo-scandal or quasi-scandal in any realm of life.  We have seen it most recently with the scandal in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints.  Most people are referring to it as "bountygate."  As much as I get annoyed with people when they say incorrect things or things that have no backing whatsoever, attaching "-gate" to the end of a word to draw attention on the fact that it is a scandal is probably the most annoying thing to me.  The answer to the rhetorical question I was going to ask is obvious.  The reason for people to put "-gate" at the end of a word to make it seem more scandalous is to make everyone remember Watergate which was the scandal that brought down President Nixon's presidency. 

Watergate was the name of the office complex which hosted the Democratic National Committee.  It was not named "Water" and then had "gate" attached to it because of the fact that it was a scandal.  In all likelihood, if someone was writing the article today about Watergate they would call it Watergategate.  This is nonsenical.  But by putting "-gate" at the end we are clearly noting that it is a scandal.  There is no disagreement there.  There is no research that has to be done.  There is no conversation to be had.  We are done at that point.  Watergategate is so much worse than Watergate because we know it is a scandal before we even explain what it is about. 

Most writers who put the phrases together such as "spygate", "bountygate", or whatever probably remember what it was like being impressionable during the time of Watergate.  Or their editors do.  Hopefully, as my generation grows older, we'll realize the foolishness of putting "-gate" at the end of scandals to make them sound more interesting and we'll notice the nonsense of doing so.  In the meantime, can we please stop referring to things such as "spygate" or "bountygate"?  These are not the name of actual things but rather just ways of trying to sound smart or clever.  It would be much better if we grew up in a place where people would realize the difference between Watergate and Watergategate.  Unfortunately, we will continue to put "-gate" at the end of things because it sounds interesting or because it sounds "so much better."  It does not.  I assure you.

We've seen this problem in other areas of our lives, as well.  We have people out there who like to sound clever and put words at the end of things to explain what they are.  That's why we have "Obamacare" and "Romneycare".  The sad part is that these are adults who are forming these words and phrases and yet my generation gets blamed for not knowing our history, destroying the English language, not knowing grammar, etc.  It's embarassing.  Just stop and think.  What contributes more to the conversation using made up phrases such as "Obamacare", "spygate", or "bountygate" or by saying the Affordable Care Act, the spy scandal with the New England Patriots, or the bounties put out for injuring players by the New Orleans Saints?  It is almost as if we are afraid to have conversations with people or to use the whole phrase or sentence.  When this happens, we become more easily susceptible to propagandized phrases such as "Obamacare", "Obama Nation", etc.  The ones destroying the English language by popularizing these phrases may need to look and see what the difference is between Watergate and Watergategate. 

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