Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Grammar: Howlers 21


Sometimes a long word like appendicectomy becomes appendectomy, orientated becomes oriented – and so on.

adaptation: adaption
metamorphosised: metamorphosed
acclimatise: acclimate
preventative: preventive
orientate: orient
hypothesise: hypothecate
eugenicist: eugenist
opinionated: opiniated
asininity: asinity
nicotiniana: nicotiana.
digitalised: digitised
exploitative: exploitive
odoriferous: odiferous
Beethovenian: Beethovian
decolonialise: decolonise
demonstratable: demonstrable
empathetic: empathic
nictitate: nictate
labradorite: labrodite

Sometimes syllables are added, like interpretative for interpretive. You don't interpretate. Or fornification – which, a Latin scholar points out, means "becoming an oven". 

casket of rum
All the Covid measurements were taken away too soon! (Measures – like mask-wearing.)
epinomyous: eponymous

And sometimes we add an intrusive R: prostrate for prostate, brought for bought.

Or we try to get a Latin plural right, but add an extra I: 
We must respect the genius locii. (The spirit of a place is its "genius loci".)
Doughnuts are perfect torii. (Torus is the Latin for doughnut-shape: its plural is tori.)
Dame Edna Everage showered the audience with gladiolii. (gladioli)

The genii was out of the box. (Genii is the plural of genius, but here a genie is meant – and they  usually live in bottles. Confusingly, "genie" is an anglicisation of the Arabic djinni. The dictionary says that "djinni" is the singular, meaning an evil spirit, and the plural "djinn".)

French terms can be confusing:

It’s what we call champloisé. (Bargain Hunt. It's "champlevé" enamel.)
It’s called Carolean, after Queen Caroline. (Bargain Hunt. It’s after King Charles I or II.)
the Italianette style (Italianate)

child protégé 
(A talented child is a “prodigy”. A protégé is someone you are looking after and supporting. A music teacher’s favourite pupils may be her protégés, but they may not be prodigies.)

And the coastal area in Italy is  Cinque Terre, not Chique Terre. (European Tourism)

Take care with Yiddish. Can you tell your shmuck (rude) from your shmutter (clothes)? 

Sometimes it helps to say it in American:

not have bad (It's “not half bad”.)
mind-bottling for mind-boggling 
deep-seeded hate (It’s “deep-seated”.)
I shutter to think... (shudder)

What DO people think “quixotic” means?

Grade inflation, caused by quixotic predictions, could be as damaging to posterity as the closure of schools. (Times 2020. Wild? Well-meaning?)

It was typical of Bruce Lester's quixotic career that the following year he was playing a bit part in I Walk Alone, and he continued to take small parts until retiring from acting in 1958. (Independent obituary 2008 Up and down career? It means “mercurial”, says someone on Twitter. Like Don Quixote tilting at windmills thinking they were giants, says another, correctly.)

And what do they think "genuflect" means? 

To show great respect or devotion. Examples of Genuflect in a sentence:

After Ted’s funeral, hundreds of people went by his house to genuflect to his widow.  

When Jill met her idol, she could not help but genuflect to the singer who had inspired her to become an entertainer.  

We genuflect to the heavenly father by lighting a white candle in his honour.  

The servants genuflect to their royal employers by bowing before them.  


Genuflect literally means going down on one knee. You may metaphorically genuflect to academic authorities, or widely held ideas.

Supposably” is now included in Cue people moaning about irregardless and pacifically. Do change the record.

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