A Levantine disappointment

Today's post comes from the same New York Times article as yesterday's post, about the exchange of power in Lebanon, with Saad Hariri losing his post as prime minister to the Hezbollah-backed candidate, Najib Miqati. Toward the end of the article, there was this bit about Hariri:

  • "And even in defeat, he suggested there might still be negotiations ahead on some quintessentially Levantine deal that would bring him into Mr. Miqati’s government."

The OED says Levantine means "of or pertaining to the Levant." OK, so go back one entry. Levant in this sense means the "eastern part of the Mediterranean, with its islands and the countries adjoining."

So all that phrase means is "in a quintessentially Eastern Mediterranean deal." This isn't a helpful adjective, unless you are such a student of the region that you know what a quintessential deal in this part of the world is. Show, don't tell.

I was also disappointed that this wasn't really a useful word in general. I was hoping for something like Byzantine, which refers to a historic region and culture, but also has a distinct extended meaning that derives from the character of that culture. In that sense, the OED defines Byzantine as "reminiscent of the manner, style, or spirit of Byzantine politics; intricate, complicated; inflexible, rigid, unyielding."