or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


First, may I just say that although I immoderately love the movie Seven, because I love all of David Fincher's movies, I think that the spelling on the poster--Se7en--is ridiculous in the extreme?

Second, may I just say that the mnemonic for remembering the seven deadly sins is PWELGAS?

All right. A couple of days ago a reader asked if my recent absence was due to sloth (which it was), and the word "sloth" struck me as amusing. The English, as you may know, generally pronounce it "slowth", with a long "-o-", and well they might, since this is the origin of the word: "slow-" plus the "-th" suffix which denotes a state or quality and is used to turn verbs or adjectives into nouns ("growth", "width"). In North America, we've shortened the "-o-" sound, for no particularly good reason that I can see, since "-oth" takes a long sound ("both") or a short ("moth") seemingly at random. (And "-oth-" has another trick up its sleeve, since it can be a short "-o-" as in "bother", a long one as in "clothing", or a short "-u-" sound as in "mother".)

Now, that acronym. PWELGAS gives us pride, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, avarice, and sloth. If you prefer the "A" to stand for anger (aka wrath), or the "G" to represent greed (aka avarice), or you prefer a "V" for vanity (aka pride), then you will have to make up your own acronym.


Blogger Tony Pius said...


This morning I was blearily reading the L.A. Times over breakfast. The Sports page was bewailing the loss of Dodger pitcher Eric Gagne to an elbow injury, which will be repaired with a procedure called "Tommy John surgery" after the first player to have had it performed upon him. And I hit this sentence:

"Now Gagne, born two years after Dr. Frank Jobe first ran a scapula over Tommy John, is going on his third elbow ligament in eight years."

I blinked and read it again, then asked my wife, "Isn't a scapula a body part?"

"Sure," she said. "It's a shoulderblade." And I had a brief mental image which seemed to imply that Dr. Jobe and Mr. John were very much closer than had previously been reported.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005 4:56:00 PM  
Blogger pyramus said...

"Threadjack", eh? New one on me. But I like it.

I would bet you good money that this is the chain of events that led to that sentence: 1) journalist means to type "scalpel", instead types "scapel"; 2) automatic spell-checker would like to replace it with "scapula"; 3) overburdened and/or careless journalist or copy-editor acquiesces; 4) embarrassing sexual image is thrust into the minds of astute readers.

Thanks for the error; it's the sort of thing, as you have clearly noticed, that I live for.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005 6:05:00 PM  

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