Friday, February 29, 2008

English - inexplicable to the end

Is it just me, or have you ever wondered why we have inept, but not ept?

Or why, if a date can live in infamy, a moment can't live in famy? Derek Fisher's 0.4 seconds left winning shot, or the catch by Willie Mays come to mind. (This one's for you, Dad.)

The fall of the Berlin Wall also qualifies - for the higher minded.

For that matter, why isn't infame a word? Sordid Tales of Misfortune and Infame? (I mean, famous and infamous are both words, how did the rest of the family get short-changed?)

There's newfangled, but not fangled? Not even oldfangled?

If you're disinterested you're impartial, but if you're uninterested you're indifferent. Okay, that's not really the same thing, but hardly anyone gets it right. Which just irks me. And if you're going to say irregardless, go the whole nine yards and say disirregardless, just so everyone knows you know.

And can we talk about the words that mean both one thing and its opposite? (Autoantonyms for you fellow geeks out there.) That's just mean.

Livid (darkly bruised/pale and ashen). How are you supposed to know? The flowers bloomed livid. Well? Were they purple or were they white?

Hellacious (remarkably good, extraordinary/distasteful and repellant). How is anything related to hell remarkably good? That doesn't seem right. I can see it coming in handy though, "wow, that is one hellacious screenplay you've got there, Ms. Cody." Huh. The Hollywood version of the ancient Chinese proverb, "may you live an interesting life."

Ravel (entangle/disentangle). If his lies are raveling, is he a good liar? Or a bad one? Whatever, if he's a liar, ditch him disirregardless.

Dust (to sprinkle fine particles/to remove fine particles). Dust the dust. Brings back fond memories of Amelia Bedelia - remember her? The housekeeper who drew the drapes... on paper? And dressed the chicken... in pants? She also dusted the living room - with baby powder.

Handicap (advantage/disadvantage).
Do you know how long this confused me?? Advantage in sports, like golf - the very best description of which I have ever heard, by the by, is Robin Williams' - if you haven't heard it, drop everything and watch this, because seriously, it's one of the funniest sports diatribes ever... Disadvantage in life. I still don't get this one.

Sanction (
to authorize/a punitive action). This one drove me batty when I was a Poli Sci major. I could never figure out whether we were for or against Afghanistan, or China, or Iran. Then again, I still can't.

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