I’ve loved words forever. I subscribe to Wordsmth.com and they send me a word every day. I’ve heard today’s word, concupiscence, and understand it when I read it in context (I don’t think I ever heard the word used aloud). But I don’t know the word well enough to use it with confidence. Of course I will, now knowing exactly what it means: lustful, libidinous. The words earlier this week were easy, reactionary and tyro.
Spell check was a mixed blessing for me. We know it doesn’t pick up typos when the erroneous word is also a legitimate word
It was troubling for me to learn that accommodate had two M’s after 50 years of misspelling. It still takes me several tries to get maintenance right.
I have an anecdote rolling around in the part of my brain that has not been affected by dementia. The story may have been told me by Ralph Brandt when he was the managing editor of the Bridgeton Evening News. This would have been well before the year of the flood.
It seems the reporters at the BEN would write the difficult-for-them-to-spell words on the wall next to their desk. You could tell the seniority of the reporters by the length of their wall lists.
One day the publisher decided the offices were looking a little shabby and, as a surprise to the staff, had some painters come in over a weekend and do all the walls.
It took the paper years to recover.
I owe the idea for today’s post to an email I received from my own copyeditor. An article posted in the May 20th number of The NYTimes Magazine, entitled “Words We Don’t Say.” It was a list of words a prominent editor from the 90s refused to allow into his copy. The list was short and I nodded agreement with most of them.
Bigs (when you mean prominent people)
Boast (when you mean have)
Don (when you mean put on)
Fin de Siecle
New York’s Finest
Queried (when you mean asked)
Sentences beginning “Result: “or “Reason:”
Sport (as a verb)
Tapped (meaning chosen)
A Who’s Who of
I am a little sorry that comely, a word first learned in some Elizabethan novel, got on the list before I could use it. Same with zeitgeist and Fin de Siecle. And indie deserves a second life when it appears with bookstore.
As is often the case in the Year on the Road Blog, the comments were more interesting than the article that prompted them.
As of this moment, 402 comments to The NYTimes Magagzine article offer wonderful additions to the list, for example:
Going forward (recommended by 36 readers)
Friend (as a verb)
Impact (as a verb)
“begs the question” (when you mean asks the question)
And 17 more pages of comments. The article and comments can be found at: http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/words-we-dont-say/?smid=tw-nytimesmagazine&seid=auto&utm_source=swissmiss&utm_campaign=224352cc0e-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email
The readers of my blog are at least at literate at the readers of the NYTimes and I am betting several worthy comments will appear below.
BTW, I did not spot my all time favorite.
Less (when you mean fewer)