January 31, 2015

Disappearing words, and other word stuff

The wind chill was -17 degrees last night. And yet I'm still blogging! Watta guy, huh? Okay, let's get to the words.

First off, a missing word. Recently, the IRS did something that lots of people do: they disappeared a word. Here's what they said: "The best bet: file sooner than later." Whither "rather"? I always say "sooner rather than later", don't you? This dropping of words is becoming widespread. Another regular offender is the loss of the word "of", as in "I'm going to look at a couple houses." Whither "of"? "Couple houses" just doesn't sound right to me. C'mon, it's a "couple of houses." No?

Moving along, I have a question. Has the term "polar vortex" been disappeared?" Last year, weather reports were littered with mention of the polar vortex. Personally, I think it scared a lot of numbskull Americans and the powers-that-be decided en masse to kill it. "Arctic blast" is now the preferred term (as it was before the introduction of "polar vortex"). Seriously, listen to your weather cast. Whither the polar vortex?

The next one comes from a friend who lives in Ireland. In an email to me, she said: "This might take a little time. The Irish use the term, 'to put something on the long finger'. [Name] always puts things on the long finger." I've never heard that phrase before so I trotted over to phrases.org.uk to check it out. Here's what I found:

Ruth (at the link) provides this explanation: 
"Someone asked about this last year: its an Irish expression meaning 'to postpone indefinitely', and I think comes from the custom of wearing a ring on the index finger of your left hand if you are not enagaged or married, on the second (long) finger if you are engaged, on the third (ring)finger if married, and on the little finger if entirely disinclined. Hope this helps." Sounds right.
One last thing. I get crazy when people pronounce the word "height" as "hithe". Yeesh. Last night I heard the zillionth person on TV use this pronunciation and as always, it made me think of dyslexia. People with this syndrome reverse letters and confuse their words. I assume "ght" is the problem here. It's a spelling that is apparently difficult for those who are dyslexic. This made me wonder if they'd pronounce "draught" as "drafth", if given the opportunity. I think they would, though I suspect they'd say blight as blight, rather than blythe. If this is true, it's not a hard and fast rule that dyslexics will have problems with "ght". It only happens with certain words, though of course that's just an opinion on my part. (I hope a dyslexic reader will happen upon this post and enlighten me in the comments.)

That is all. You may return to your wind-chilled life now, as will I. Have no fear; baseball spring training is only about two months away. I know it doesn't seem like it, but we're making progress.


writenow said...

Artichoke Annie sent this via email:

We have dropped "the" from countries like Sudan, Congo. I mean when I was a kid it was The Congo.

Also interesting how the Brits go to hospital and we Americans go to the hospital.

writenow said...

But people in other countries say "United States is evil." They don't use "the". Similarly, some Americans are adopting this way of saying it. It will win in the end.