Wednesday Wordplay: mangled words and John Wayne

 

words often mangled or misused

As a kid, did you ever dread being sent to the principle’s office?  Or have you ever asked someone to be discrete with delicate information you’ve given them? 

English is a Rubick’s cube of confusing possibilities. Here are a few of the most famous word mangles and mix-ups:

cache / cachet

Cache, “a hidden store,” is sometimes confused with cachet, “prestige, appeal.” Both words come from French, but cache is pronounced like “cash,” while cachetrhymes with “sashay.” The confusion may be encouraged because we often don’t write final accents for words borrowed from French like resume andprotege, so people may mistakenly think that cache is one of these words ending in an “ay” sound. Cachet is one of these “-ay” words, but one that ends in –et, like cabaret.

 

pore / pour

When you read something closely, you pore over it. You only pour over something if you are dumping a liquid on it. It may seem to some that they are pouring their attention or vision over something they are reading, and this metaphor encourages the confusion.

 

shined / shone

Shine is one of those “strong verbs” that had an irregular past tense and past participle (shone) but later acquired a regular form ending in –ed as well. Some people use the forms interchangeably, but there is a pattern that most people follow to keep them distinct. Shined takes a personal subject and an object: I shined the flashlight at the bear. Shone is used of light sources and does not take an object: The moon shone over the harbor.

 

enervate / energize

Many people believe that enervate is a synonym of energize, but in fact the words are antonyms. Enervate means “to deprive of energy or vitality.” This is because enervate comes ultimately from Latin nervus, “sinew,” and means literally “to cause to be without sinews,” that is, “to weaken.” Ancient and medieval anatomists could not distinguish the white fibers of sinews or tendons from those of nerves, and the word nerve was once used for both things.

 


Motivational Quotes

 

MLK 

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.
           — Martin Luther King Jr., ‘Strength to Love,’ 1963

A mother only does her children harm if she makes them the only concern of her life.
           — W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge, 1943

 

The best way to realize the pleasure of feeling rich is to live in a smaller house than your means would entitle you to have.
            — Edward Clarke

 

arnold palmer 

Concentration comes out of a combination of confidence and hunger.
            — Arnold Palmer

 

Do not accustom yourself to use big words for little matters..
            — Samuel Johnson

 

Storms make oaks take deeper root..
            — George Herbert

 

If you really want to do something, you do it. You don’t save it for a sound bite.
            — Liz Friedman, House M.D., Hunting, 2005

 

John Wayne 

Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway.
            — John Wayne

Wednesday Wordplay: Eat before shopping

Motivational Quotes

Eat before shopping. If you go to the store hungry, you are likely to make unnecessary purchases.
            — American Heart Association Cookbook

I don’t think necessity is the mother of invention – invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble.
            — Agatha Christie, An Autobiography, 1977

My passions were all gathered together like fingers that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today; I knew it then as purpose.
            — Bette Davis, The Lonely Life, 1962

Often the best way to overcome desire is to satisfy it.
            — W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge, 1943

The fragrance always remains in the hand that gives the rose.
            — Heda Bejar

Whatever you are by nature, keep to it; never desert your line of talent. Be what nature intended you for and you will succeed.
            — Sydney Smith

Assumptions are the termites of relationships.
            — Henry Winkler

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.
            — Louisa May Alcott

Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.
            — Denis Diderot

To be brave is to love someone unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. To just give. That takes courage, because we don’t want to fall on our faces or leave ourselves open to hurt.
            — Madonna, O Magazine, January 2004

Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.
            — C. S. Lewis

 

Toponyms

 

Toponym – a word derived from a place or location.

Whether it’s when we drink champagne (from Champagne, France), commit a solecism (after Soloi, an Athenian colony in Cilicia), or when we meet our Waterloo (Waterloo, Belgium), we are (perhaps unknowingly) alluding to a distant land and its history. Here are a few examples:

 

  shanghai
 

MEANING:

verb tr.: To recruit someone forcibly or by fraud into doing something.

ETYMOLOGY:

After Shanghai, a major seaport in east China. The term derives from the former practice (mid-1800s to early 1900) of luring men, by the use of drugs, liquor, or violence into serving on US ships destined for East Asia. People who recruited sailors in this manner were called crimps. The practice ended with The Seamen’s Act of 1915 that made crimping a federal crime.

USAGE:

"I know that no one shanghais people into joining the police or becoming a medic, but it does us no harm to remind ourselves from time to time how off-the-scale gnarly these jobs are."
Caitlin Moran; Buttocks on the Skirting Board?; The Times (London, UK); Jan 25, 2010.

   
  Munich
 

MEANING:

noun: A shortsighted or dishonorable appeasement.

ETYMOLOGY:

After Munich, Germany, the site of a pact signed by Great Britain, France, Italy, and Germany on Sep 29, 1938 that permitted annexation of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland by Nazi Germany. WWII began a year later; Sudetenland was restored to Czechoslovakia after the war.

USAGE:

"Neoconservatives, writes Jacob Heilbrunn, ‘see new Munichs everywhere and anywhere’."
Andrew J. Bacevich; The Neocondition; Los Angeles Times; Jan 20, 2008.

 

NOTE:   exonym and endonym

The name “Munich”" is an exonym (a name used by outsiders). The local name (endonym) for Munich is München, derived from Mönch (monk) as the city was founded by Benedictine monks in 1158.


 

NEXT UP: The art of “catching up” in traffic

 

Catching Up

Caleb Crain watches the traffic go by:

On the streets of Park Slope, the most dangerous driving seems to occur when drivers are in the throes of the illusion that they are "catching up." If a driver feels that a safe and pleasant speed on a residential street is 15 miles an hour, but an obstacle (such as a double-parked delivery van) temporarily forces the driver to slow down or even stop, he often responds, once he has passed the obstacle, by "catching up." That is, he suddenly accelerates to thirty miles an hour, and holds that speed for half a block or more. What he is "catching up" to is where he thinks his car would be if he hadn’t been forced to slow down. It wasn’t his choice to slow down; it was (and I am rankly indulging here in a fantasy of driver’s psychology, which isn’t such a stretch for me because I, too, drive) somehow unfair that he had to slow down. By revving the engine, he expresses his anger at this injustice and recovers for himself the timespace that the universe, in the form of a double-parked delivery van, had tried to take from him.

 

bootyism

Bootyism is a sexy religion often confused with Budhism.

I know more about Bootyism than I do about Catholicism!

Wednesday Wordplay: make good shit

Motivational Quotes

When you give each other everything, it becomes an even trade. Each wins all.
            — Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign, 1999

The only way to last a really long time is to build something useful enough that people will want to keep it going after you die, and to cultivate a sense of ownership in other people. In short: make good shit and give it away as fast as you can.
            — Lisa Williams, The Lessons of Nixon, 05-19-06

An author spends months writing a book, and maybe puts his heart’s blood into it, and then it lies about unread till the reader has nothing else in the world to do.
            — W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge, 1943

To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven.
    
       — Karen Sunde

How can you come to know yourself? Never by thinking, always by doing. Try to do your duty, and you’ll know right away what you amount to.
            — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Even with the best of maps and instruments, we can never fully chart our journeys.
            — Gail Pool

All a good letter has to do is make you feel special.
            — Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata


 

The T/D deletion

(who knew there was such a thing?)

In Mark Liberman’s Language Log, he discusses how the expression “baked goods” is increasingly being rendered “bake goods,” as a result of t/d deletion – a linguistic process by which the suffix “ed” is deleted. Although stigmatized, the t/d deletion is a common progressive occurrence in American English, at least in some contexts. As a result, fixed expressions that start out as participle+noun sometimes evolve into the loss of their “ed” ending. Past examples that occurred long ago include:

  • ice(d) cream
  • skim(med) milk
  • pop(ped) corn
  • wax(ed) paper

More recently, the t/d deletion has held sway with ice(d) tea, cream(ed) corn, and whip(ped) cream.

Read more about this phenomenon here.

 

A “Hella”byte????

Scientists are lobbying for the creation of a word to describe numbers larger than 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000: A campaign for” hella” to join the likes of “kilo,” “mega” and “giga” as an internationally accepted prefix is attracting growing support..

Wednesday Wordplay – Warhol, Freud and Facebook crushes

Inspirational Quotes

I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time.
            — Anna Freud

When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.
            — Francois de La Rochefoucauld

A dog is the greatest gift a parent can give a child. OK, a good education, then a dog.
            — John Grogan, An Interview with John Grogan, 2008

Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. 
        — Natalie Goldberg

We have, I fear, confused power with greatness.
        — Stewart L. Udall, commencement address, Dartmouth College, June 13, 1965

A person has three choices in life. You can swim against the tide and get exhausted, or you can tread water and let the tide sweep you away, or you can swim with the tide, and let it take you where it wants you to go.
        — Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, Northern Exposure, Northern Lights, 1993

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.
        — George Bernard Shaw

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
        — Andy Warhol, “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

The world is full of women blindsided by the unceasing demands of motherhood, still flabbergasted by how a job can be terrific and torturous.
        — Anna Quindlen, O Magazine, May 2003

I like manual labor. Whenever I’ve got waterlogged with study, I’ve taken a spell of it and found it spiritually invigorating.
        — W. Somerset Maugham, “The Razor’s Edge”, 1943


Urban Dictionary

 

time vampire

Something or someone who literally sucks your time like a vampire sucks blood.

My computer broke again, I spent all night working on that fucking time vampire.

 

text-hole

Someone who texts on their cellphone in really inappropriate places, like movie theatres, concerts, plays, or during sex.

1. The movie was great, except right during the best scene, this text-hole in front of me lit up his phone and started texting away.
2. We were humping away, and she started texting her friend. She was a certified text-hole.

 

Leno Giver

When someone retires from a legendary television franchise, passes the torch to a worthy successor. Then he gets bored and starts a new show which sucks and then asks for their old job back by firing the successor.

He’s a leno giver.

 

Facebook crush

A crush on a FB friend is characterized by the unexplainable urge to revisit the friend’s Photos tab repeatedly and checking to see if other friends have written new messages on their Wall. Usually afflicts users who are only somewhat acquainted.

"I’ve got a Facebook crush on a guy I was going to rent a room from, but in the end we just friended each other."

 

friendly review

A positive review you give to a movie, book, TV series or CD that you don’t like but which a friend has recommended to you, usually because you don’t want to hurt their feelings.

Rod: I watched that movie The Departed last night which John lent me.
Tom: What did you think?
Rod: I hated it.
Tom: Oh boy, he loves that movie. What did you tell him?
Rod: I told him it was great.
Tom: You gave it a friendly review, huh?
Rod: Yeah, you know what hes like.

Wednesday Wordplay: Pete Seeger tells it like it is

Inspirational Quotes

I don’t like the sound of all those lists he’s making – it’s like taking too many notes at school; you feel you’ve achieved something when you haven’t.
            — Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle, 1948

Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don’t.
            — Pete Seeger

American women expect to find in their husbands a perfection that English women only hope to find in their butlers.
            — W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge, 1943

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
            — Margaret Mead

It hurts to find out that what you wanted doesn’t match what you dreamed it would be.
            — Randy K. Milholland, Something Positive Comic, 09-07-04

He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.
            — Benjamin Franklin

A man without ambition is dead. A man with ambition but no love is dead. A man with ambition and love for his blessings here on earth is ever so alive. Having been alive, it won’t be so hard in the end to lie down and rest.
            — Pearl Bailey

What you are is a question only you can answer.
            — Lois McMaster Bujold, The Warrior’s Apprentice, 1986

Character – the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life – is the source from which self respect springs.
            — Joan Didion, "Slouching Towards Bethlehem"

Urban Dictionary

 

YouTube Loop 

When you go to watch a quick 30 second video on YouTube and regain consciousness hours later having jumped from interesting video to interesting video.
Similar to a wikipedian loop or ‘WikiComa’

Clarence: "Dude, you totally missed the funeral yesterday!!"
T-dawg: "Yeah I know; somebody emailed me a funny clip and I got stuck in a YouTube loop…"

Wednesday Wordplay: Benjamin Franklin’s fear of Santa

Inspirational Quotes

The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.
            — Dee Hock

Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.
            — Native American Proverb

Content makes poor men rich; discontentment makes rich men poor.
            — Benjamin Franklin

One must have a good memory to be able to keep the promises one makes.
            — Friedrich Nietzsche

If I had my life to live over… I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
            — Nadine Stair

It is cruel to discover one’s mediocrity only when it is too late.
            — W. Somerset Maugham, ‘Of Human Bondage’, 1915

Everybody is too busy with their own lives to give a damn about your book, painting, screenplay etc, especially if you haven’t sold it yet. And the ones that aren’t, you don’t want in your life anyway.
            — Hugh Macleod, How To Be Creative: 22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

 

Urban Dictionary – words for the Holidays

Gift Parasite – A person who adds their name to a gift tag in order to claim partial credit for giving the gift.

I’m totally broke so I had to be a gift parasite and sign on that present you’re giving Grandma.

santaclaustrophobia – fear of too many santa clauses

He felt a bout of santaclaustrophobia coming upon him as the holiday season approached.