Parliamentarian and Governance
Frank Pierce
Are these two words recent European imports to the United States and elsewhere? Or have I just missed them.

Governance seems to be a noun form of "governing" and perhaps has some utility. But it's also being used as a noun in place of the verb to govern. And its use is spreading to all kinds of strained grammatical applications in this sense. Is this a new phenomenon or has it always been there in common usage?

And how about Parliamentarian? We have had a person in the US congress for years who is the paid professional expert on parliamentary procedure. He is the "Parliamentarian".

Our British friends have a parliament and when one serves in it, he is, by gosh, a member of Parliament, an MP. I can think of no better way of saying it. However, I was surprised last year to hear on American radio that a number of Germnan Parliamenarians were visiting Washington.

What is this? I asked myself. Is the Bundestag so complex that they must hire a score of these experts, possibly to parse the German language? Are they coming here to exchange the latest concepts in points of order with our own lone Parliamentarian?

No. It turns out that they are just the elected representatives to the Bundestag from Hamburg, Kiel, Cologne, etc. It seems that the importation of this particular term dilutes the meaning of a perfectly good specialized word that we have used for a good, specialized job, that of Parliamentarian.

Any comments?

I believe it is probably the result of the press. Perhaps the copy editors of the various news agencies need a refresher course.
Curious George
I think there's more than press carelessness at work here. "Governance" has become common in some institutions, I think, because there is a need for a word that means not just "governing" but the institutionalized set of procedures and structures by which an insitution is governed or guided. So for example faculty at my university participate in "governance" - something that is not quite "government" and is certainly not the same as "administration" (which, after all, is done by the Admonistration.")Notice, by the way but not coincidentally, that "governance" still has a flavor of goodness and wisdom, whereas for many Americans "government" and "administration" have become in some way unsavory.
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