Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday rerun: Words fail us

expletive: a (usually profane) exclamation
epithet: a disparaging word or phrase
epaulet: a decoration on a shirt's shoulder
epitaph: words on a tomb or gravestone

From these four words, Americans, always linguistically inventive, have coined a new word which we call "epitet."

We have decided to put the four words in a blender and use the result when we want to say, for instance, "The man used an ethnic epithet to describe his new neighbors."  Instead, we say he used an epitet.

It started with spelling; I understand that a certain segment of the teaching profession encourages their young followers to spell creatively now, fearing that asking young Beauregard to spell words correctly would crimp his sense of self-worth.

And then we started allowing mispronunciations, and probably became probly, and Social Security became SoShecurity, and February became Febyooary.  This is at least the "fith or sixt" time I have hollered about the way TV health reporters warn us of "respitory" infections.

So we find ourselves just making up new words, and you might as well tell Beau's math teacher that 6 times 8 equals 57, because he feels it should be.

I could just screen.

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