Virtue signaling and other inane platitudes – The Boston Globe

Posted: January 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

Though virtue signaling has a form that is quite common in insults used by the right to mock the left, it is a bit different. Geoffrey Nunberg — a linguist who teaches at the University of California Berkeley School of Information and is author of “Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show” — said via e-mail that this term is a departure from previous insults: “Like ‘latte-sipping,’ ‘Volvo-driving’ and the rest, ‘virtue signaling’ belongs chiefly to the right. But it’s not really comparable. For one thing, it’s a gerund, not a participle — that is, it functions as a noun and not an adjective. Second, it’s a clunky mouthful — it doesn’t trip off the tongue, it stumbles. And it’s abstract. It doesn’t bring a vivid image to mind — a car, a drink, a dish, a sport — but only describes the vague object of a certain kind of behavior, which the right believes is exclusive to the left.”

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