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According to Fowler's Modern English Usage, sarcasm is to faults as what intellectual stance is to morals?

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Answer: cynicism

According to Fowler, sarcasm is directed towards people's faults and cynicism towards their morality.


What about ridicule? Sarcasm would seem to involve the verbal expression of feelings as would ridicule. Cynicism can easily be expressed through a leer, and doesn't need a verbal expression.

Don't agree! Cynicism can be directed toward morality as well as amorality and sarcasm can be directed toward people's faults as well as their strengths. It seems moot to me.

What edition of fowler? like a lot of his stuff, what was correct 50 years ago sounds dated and pedantic now. personally, I love the distinction, and think it useful

Sarcasm may equally be directed toward a person's virtues; cynicism may equally be directed toward a person's lack of morality.

No, the parallel is improper - faults are by definition undesirable, whereas morality is neutral. Change "morality" to "immorality" and you have a more plausible and tougher issue . . .

I can see Fowler's point, although I don't believe it is a necessary one. I think I can be cynical about faults and sarcastic about morality just as easily as the other way around.

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