or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Ho Ho Hold It

The holiday season is at its frenzied peak--ask anyone who works in retail--and editors everywhere simply don't have the time to go over everything with a fine-toothed comb, what with the shopping and the parties and everything. Sad, really.


From a Slate.com article about hibernation:

So, we're approaching the midnight of the year—the time of minimum sunlight and maximum night—when most of us feel a little dormant, a bit groundhogish.

"Groundhogish"? If you're going to make up a word (and English offers you the tools and the opportunity to do so), you have to do it properly, so let's make it "groundhoggish", please. Words that end with a "-g" invariably double that letter when they have a suffix tacked on: look at "piggish", or "ragged", or "shaggy", or, well, anything else. To not do so changes the vowel from short to long. It's a pretty basic rule.


Here's a capsule book review in Entertainment Weekly of a book called Kockroach:

In Tyler Knoc's debut novel Kockroach, Kockroach awakes one morning to find himself transformed into a giant human. Since he's a former cockroach, his first thought is that he has had one hell of a molt; his second, which drives the plot of Knox's adventurous twist on Kafka's dude-turns-into-a-roach ditty, is that he wants sex, money, and power. Sadly, before Knox can explore Kockroach in metamorphosis, he must first explain Arthropod Psych 101; the resulting distance between impulse and action makes Kockroach a very difficult character in whom to invest. Still, if you had any doubts that roaches will win in the end, this should clear them up.

This drives me up the wall. As I have said before, a ditty is a little song. It's just a song. That's all it is. It's not a short novel. Where did the writer get the idea that it was, and where the hell are the editors? Perhaps you are a nice person, Whitney Pastorek, and I am trying to be nice in the spirit of the season and all, but right now I am hatin' you. It'll pass. Maybe.


Here's the first paragraph from a Slate.com article entitled How to Cure a Sex Addict:

A recent article on Hillary Clinton's political engine-revving mentioned that her husband, Bill, has received "counseling for a sex addiction." How do you cure a nymphomaniac?

Well, you start by making sure she's a woman, I guess.

Nymphomania is the popular name for what's now called in therapeutic circles "hypersexuality". But, and this is an important point, it refers specifically and only to women. Nymphomania is what women have when they can't stop themselves from having sex: satyriasis is the name for what men have. Women are nymphomaniacs: men are satyriatics.

I know: it sounds like "sciatica" or something. But "satyriasis" is the noun form of the illness, if it is an illness, and to turn a word ending in "-iasis" into an adjective, we change that suffix to "-iatic": "psoriasis"/"psoriatic". And then we turn that into a noun by not changing its form at all. "Satyr" might be a better name than "satyriatic", but "satyr" probably just ought to mean "dirty old man" or "horndog": putting the ending on the word makes it clear that it's a medical condition of some sort.


Also in Slate.com--they must have let all the editors go away for the week, that's all I can say--is this sentence from a review of Jimmy Stewart's lesser-known Christmastime movie "The Shop Around The Corner":

Capra's principle flaw was his distrust of his audience's intelligence (Pauline Kael called It's a Wonderful Life "patronizing").

Pratically the first thing I ever wrote about when I started this blog was the difference between "principle" and "principal". It hasn't changed in the intervening twenty months. They're still different. "Principle" is never under any circumstances an adjective. How hard is that to memorize?


And a merry Christmas to all.


Blogger Bright Beak said...

This time of year it is sometimes a miracle to spell ANYTHING correctly, let alone make the correct choice among homonyms!
'Twas only after a full day's rest (and subsequent recovery from 2 migraines) that I rejoined the ranks of "cogito ergo sum" and may take a couple more days before I rejoin the ranks of "docendo ergo sum".

bb - still fluttering around in the throes of retailitis hangover ;)

Sunday, December 24, 2006 7:20:00 PM  

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