Perhaps a year ago, I first heard a strange new expression:  “Yes, my daughter is going to get to walk at graduation, even though she won’t technically have all her credits.”   Wait, what?  Walk?

Ever since then, the “walk at graduation” phrase – or even just “walk” – has been raining down on my head.  During this cap and gown season, I’ve heard it from friends and relatives, and seen it in countless newspaper and magazine articles.  “I’m going to walk!”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is a new expression, isn’t it?  Back in my day, I believe we said we were going to “participate in the graduation ceremony,” or “be allowed to proCESS.”   It was understood that this meant we would don the gown and mortarboard, and go through all the pomp and circumstance.

Now, the shorthand for all that is….walk.   In this PC day and age, that seems rather un-PC.  What about the people who can’t walk?  Isn’t it more inclusive to say “pro-CESS” or “participate?”  Also, “walk at graduation” makes me think of the perp walk.   Somehow, it seems meager, and possibly shameful.  It certainly doesn’t seem ceremonious.  Even “march” would be better. 

At this time of year, with images of sheepskins dancing in our heads, I find myself pining for William Safire.  He, of all people, would have solved this mystery in his New York Times Magazine column, “On Language.”  A linguistic detective, Safire could be counted on to identify a new fad in the English language, to track down the first published examples of a word or phrase, and to chart how its popularity ensued.

I am sure he would have talked the talk about this walk the walk craze.

Since Safire is gone, please help me out here.  If you can shed light on this matter, please do.  Am I crazy, or oblivious?  Is this indeed a relatively recent phenomenon?
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