or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Was my face red!

Not really, no. But I was wrong, and had been wrong for years and years, and didn't even know it until last night.

After having said yesterday that I don't watch much television, I should amend that to add that we watch Futurama most nights, even though we have the entire series on DVD. I don't know why; it just seems kind of nice to settle down and watch something before going to bed (and yes, we generally hit the sheets by 10 or so: early to bed and all that). Sometimes we'll flip around the channels for a few minutes, and last night we did and briefly stopped at the next channel, which, as it turned out, had some sort of documentary about director Val Lewton. A minute or two in, the narrator said the word "uh-LEE-gee-ack". and the closed caption dutifully said "elegiac".

What the hell? "Elegiac"! That isn't right! It's "elegaic"!

And then I immediately thought, "No, wait. That doesn't make any sense, because the word 'elegy' ends in a '-y' and therefore the adjectival suffix would have to be '-iac' and not '-aic'".

And so of course it turns out that I had misunderstood the word for lo, these many years. In my defense, I had probably never heard "elegiac" spoken out loud, certainly never said it myself, and if I had heard it, it probably would have been pronounced "el-uh-JEE-ic", which sounds very much like "el-uh-JAY-ic", assuming whoever was saying it hadn't made the same mistake I had. In fact, it's entirely possible that I had heard it pronounced wrong and internalized that. I'm not the only one who's ever made that mistake, either: Googling "elegaic" gives 36,000 hits, so this is a common and easy-to-make mistake. (The correct "elegiac", fortunately, gives 575,000.)

"El-uh-JEE-ic" is the preferred pronunciation, with "uh-LEE-jee-ack" coming up second (and a distant second, I hope, because it's awful).


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