photo credit CafePress

That is true. Only sometimes it isn’t silent.

It’s no secret that I have kind of a word and language-usage obsession. Someone else wrote in another blog, “As a grammatically conscientious person who frequents internet forums and YouTube, I have found it necessary to develop a few coping mechanisms.” Sadly, I don’t seem to have developed any such mechanisms, and so I still twitch and rant at inappropriate moments, and my Paul has to tell me not to correct the waitress’ pronunciation of Smithwick’s, for example.

It’s just . . . not so much my wanting to be right, as my wanting everyone else to be as right as I am. And I love words and word usage. I just love them . . .

My Paul and I had a kind of lazy rainy Saturday, and at one point that afternoon, he was online on his laptop, and I was reading someone’s self-published novel. After a little back-and-forth between us, my Paul concluded, “I get disgusted about skyrocketing national debt. You get disgusted with misspellings. We have different thresholds for outrage.”

He’s right. But seriously. In just one chapter the author of this book wrote “Pi whole” when he meant “pie hole” and “nube” for “newbie”–many times on the last one. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to read “noob” when it’s supposed to be “newbie”–and “newbie” even looks like what it means? I mean, it does, right? It’s not like some other aspects of the English language that are actually confusing . . . The story, a YA “cyber-fiction” novel, is quite entertaining so far, but I have to say the whole grammar/spelling thing has put me off self-publishing. It’s pretty clear everybody needs another pair of (knowledgeable) eyes to proofread his or her work.

On the other hand . . . I do like messing with words and meanings. Like–recently I’ve been playing this game in my head where I misplace syllable emphases and divisions. I think I first started doing this when one of my parents made some quip about someone putting “the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLAble.” I no longer have any idea what the context of that joke was–it was quite some time ago–but even still I sometimes like to take multisyllabic words and rough them up a little. Then I like to make up new definitions for the mispronunciations.

My favourite one is Acetaminophen. If you pronounce it like, “AHset-AHmen-OHphen,” it sounds like the name of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh. Or, if you take the word linguistics and divide it differently than I did above–say, “LINGui-stics”–well, this summer my Paul and I went into a coffee shop where, instead of the usual earth-friendly-ish wooden coffee stirrers, they had raw linguine with which to stir one’s coffee. I know. The emphasised syllable in linguine is the same as in linguistics, but for some reason “LINGui-stics makes me think of those pasta coffee stirrers.

Okay–now you go. Rough up a word. Then tell us what it means.

17 thoughts on “Linguis-Tics

  1. I just wanted to compliment you on a very clever title. No words being roared up here. English as a second language has led to funny mistakes though. For years, I thought understating something to ease the message was called sugar coding, because you ‘code’ the language into something sugary. Turns out I was wrong.

    • Ha! That’s great. Yeah–we should talk about that sometime. People do that in their own language, too–there are tons of examples of little kids learning things like the Pledge of Allegiance and not knowing all the words, so assuming it said something else. I have some examples from my own childhood of Bible verses where I did stuff like that.

      But obviously adults don’t always know the words they’re using in their own first language–as evidenced by the “nube/newbie” thing. 🙂

      Thanks for the compliment, by the way. I was kind of proud of that myself.

  2. I like to think I have a pretty good vocabulary… however it is true that pride goeth before the fall. I find myself more often than I care to admit, “putting my foot in it” It does keep one humble 🙂 I like to make up words out of multiple other words, one of my favorites is “fantabulabulous” of which the meaning is quite implied. Linguis-tickles my fancy just fine!

  3. Jenn, you are a massive geek, but it makes me love you even more. I remember reading a friend’s novel in the sixth form and being so distracted by the fact that he’d got to 17/18 without figuring out the difference between their/there/they’re and your/you’re that I wrote him a rather tongue-in-cheek review praising his plot but pointing this out. He never spoke to me again, so it wasn’t a great move, but the point is I was right!

  4. Jenn, “n00b” (using zeros) is the correct way to spell the gamer slang term, that is pronounced “nube” (1 syllable) and signifies pretty much the same thing as (but is more technically specific than) the more generic “newbie”.

    • Ugh! Well . . . maybe he should’ve spelled it that way instead. Then I would’ve had no idea what he was talking about but I’m pretty sure I would’ve known it was intentional. Maybe . . .

      In future, I’ll hold all these rants privately with you before I put them on the internet and write to the supposed offenders and stuff. I gotta stop writing about my grammar rants. Last time The Readership corrected my French.

      • This is proof I should not multitask, even when the multi-part of the task is sitting waiting for people to ask me questions. When I was typing that comment, in my brain I thought it was clear that I had my tongue in my cheek and was sounding extra intentionally-obnoxious because I was correcting both you and the cyberpunk author for an inadequate understanding of slang. It didn’t turn out that way, it just sounded extra obnoxious. Sorry.

        • No, it didn’t. I just hate being wrong. 😉 I got the intentional-obnoxious part. Although I didn’t get that you were correcting BOTH me and the cyberpunk author.

  5. I agree with you to the last syllable of your post. My heart bleeds when people ravage and murder a language -any language. Each word has its own inherent beauty. You flay it naked and ugliness is what will stare back in your eyes.

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