Issue 202, page 4

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From Bill Schmeer:

I have seen a number of e-mails with the clever wordplay many times (see Laughing Stock from Issue 201) and as I remember it is usually a Washington Post contest without the mention of MENSA.  Adding MENSA to a legitimate contest is, I suspect, an opportunity to gain publicity for the club without any real work. I have my doubts about an organization that allows you to take your own IQ test and send in the results to gain membership. I once told a young colleague, who frequently mentioned that he was a member of MENSA, that having a high IQ doesn't necessarily make you smart.

You have a point....  Ooh, look out, there's a MENSA member in the room...

From Beth Hayes:

You may get many responses to this page or may have already received many. As a member of Mensa, I have seen these contests in their U.S. publication, the Mensa Journal. Sometimes the point is to change a person’s name, a place name or familiar saying. Other times it’s to come up with just a new definition for something or someone familiar. It’s conceivable that someone took it upon themselves to type in the winning entries from the Journal to share with a non-Mensan, who forwarded it to everyone on their e-mail list, some of whom did the same.

One of my entries was: Haverhill, NH – Heiress buys local ski resort (Have her hill)

From John Arlidge:

Mercaptan is present in some wines, mainly red ones, and is considered a fault. Caused by the interaction of yeast with the wine lees (solids present in wine after pressing) it can be prevented by racking (decanting) the wine off the lees at an appropriate time during the oak maturation process. Mercaptan is notorious because some winemakers cannot detect it! Some wine judges like it, which I find hard to comprehend, given its usual descriptions:

ethyl mercaptan CH3CH2SH burnt match, sulfidy, earthy

methyl mercaptan CH3SH rotten cabbage, burnt rubber*

*ETS Laboratories

Generally, however, mercaptan can be usefully employed as a hidden insult to wine critics who fail to recognise the finer points of one’s products. “Yes, mercaptan, accompanied by a snappy salute, is always a great way to take one’s leave of them."

John should know -- he owns vineyards!

From Al Stevenson:

I share with Tony Barrell irritation at the tendency to create new verbs from nouns.  Multitask, deplane, and outsource are particularly galling examples. Of course, there have been some widely accepted ones: vacuuming, shovelling, etc.

When I see coined words, I try to think of some of my own. how about carring or vehicling for driving in your auto? Debedding for arising in the morning. Insourcing your cup of tea from the wife. Keyboarding for working on your computer (has probably been used already).

Yes, we've heard keyboard used as a verb.

From Woody:

All at TOWFI, many hours of great reading have been enjoyed, glad to hear you are back working again.  I am responding to the last issue's complaint concerning Kidz Korner. May I suggest that this isn't a degeneration of the English language, and is nothing to be alarmed of; it is, in fact, merely due to the rise of the use of technology to communicate. Only speaking for the UK here, but instant messaging such as MSN, and the use of text or SMS messaging, is on the increase, and one or both are used by most teens today. Text [messaging] ha[s] a limited number of characters available and thus the use of suk as opposed to suck, and b as opposed to be soon spreads to other words, c soon becomes k for ease.  Maybe the companies concerned are merely trying to tap into what they see as the new generation, trying to keep up with the times?

Possibly, though using a k for a c or a z for an s doesn't necessarily seem like a short cut, especially if you look at the cellular phone keypad.

From Marten:

And about senseless "verbation" of substantives, that surely is an international trend, we have it in German too. I blame officialese, which is filled with words not taken from normal speech but constructed. So if you want to sound official, you better make a new word than use the one you'd take otherwise, since that may only be slang.

From Joseph Chiaravalloti:

What did MacBeth say when Birnham Wood to Dunsinane did come?

"Cheese it, the copse"..

From David Stewart:

I appreciate your description of the origin of the word doughnut. (Wikipedia has an interesting story about a sea captain who impaled his fried cake on the ship's wheel, but sadly that does not shed light on the word.)

Your account will likely put on the skids my self-created history: That the word began as dough-naught -- a reference to the void in the center.

From Ben Warmus:

As a transplant to Hawaii, I have been trying to learn a bit more about Hawaiian for a few years now. Except when preceded by an a, i is pronounced as a long "e". The word wiki, however, does not fit this rule. The first i is always pronounced as a short "i" even by the few Hawaiian speakers I've herd say it. As for the doubling of the word, this is common in Hawaiian (and a few other languages I'm told) as an emphatic.

From Bev in Australia:

My pet wince at the moment is the pronunciation of the word nuclear as "nucular". I first noticed this mispronunciation many, many years ago, and have heard it many times since. But it was after I noticed President George Bush, several Australian Broadcasting Corporation presenters, and interviewees from several other English speaking countries mispronouncing the word in a similar way, that I started trying to analyse what is so difficult about it. A colleague from Virginia tells me she thought "nucular" was correct. This week I heard a young indigenous Australian actress pronounce it very distinctly as two parts, thus "new clear".  It was obvious that she had had difficulty, and had been coached to think "new clear". I guess North Americans (including the President) could think "noo clear" if they want to get it right!!

Perhaps the phonetic representation should be "new clee ur".


Or read the last issue to see what all of these people are talking about!

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Last Updated 02/28/06 10:41 PM