or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Saturday, September 10, 2005



Just read this sentence from this story:

But so is building a reputation—Browarnik ultimately hopes to join the rarified ranks of celebrity photographers David LaChapelle and Patrick McMullan.

Haven't we been over this? Didn't I say a week ago that "liquify", though a common spelling, is wrong? And in the same way, "rarify", though a common spelling, is wrong. To some they may be alternate spellings, but that's just another way of saying they're wrong.

As I said before, there are four common "-efy" words in English: "stupefy", "rarefy", putrefy", and "liquefy". (That's not counting words for which "-efy" is not a suffix--words like "defy" and "beefy".) There are four other less common but decipherable words: "tepefy" ("to make tepid"), "torrefy" ("to make torrid"), "tumefy" ("to make tumescent"), and "casefy" ("to make into cheese", from "casein", the milk protein involved in curdling). They're so rare that most people have never even heard of them; they don't show up in daily, or even yearly, discourse, and so we can safely ignore them. Therefore, all anyone has to do is memorize the spelling of four words: is that so hard?

I suppose it is, and that's why the "-ify" spelling of those four common words is going to supplant the current--correct--spelling. But not while I'm around.

(It is, however, interesting to note that of the seven verbs that start as adjectives--only "casefy" doesn't--all but "rare" end in "-id": "stupid", "liquid", "putrid", "tepid", "tumid", and "torrid". This, clearly, is where the misspellings stem from. Not that that's any excuse.)


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