”If you’re tempted to use a fancy word, make sure first that you know what it means,” is excellent advice from the English teacher to the teenager writing an essay in school, but also a sensible maxim for any journalist.
Here’s Aidan Foster-Carter, in Saturday’s Guardian. I should say that he’s billed as “honorary senior research fellow in Sociology and Modern Korea at Leeds University, and a freelance writer, consultant and broadcaster on both Koreas”, though the University of Leeds website seems to have no trace of him.
According to LDOCE, jejune means ‘too simple’ (of ideas) or ‘boring’, and is pronounced dʒɪˈdʒuːn. The OED expands on this:
Perhaps Mr Foster-Carter does indeed find the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un kim dʑʌŋ ɯn, simple and boring, intellectually unsatisfying. I’ve an awful suspicion, though, that he merely wants to characterize him as young and callow.
The OED indeed notes a further, etymologically unjustified, sense (first citation 1898):
Etymologically, we classicists know, jejune comes from the Latin jējūnus ‘hungry; empty; scanty; dry,meagre’. For Cicero, someone who is jējūnus hasn’t had their breakfast. This meaning is preserved in the French jeûne ʒøn ‘fast’, whence the familiar (petit) déjeuner ‘breakfast’. Nothing to do with jeune ʒœn ‘young’, from Latin jŭvĕnis.
Now we see why people can occasionally be heard pronouncing the word in a sort-of-French way, as ʒəˈʒuːn. I wonder if perhaps Mr Foster-Carter is one of them.
In anatomy, the jejunum dʒɪˈdʒuːnəm is part of the small intestine.