February 18, 2015

Wildly important word things

Okay, so maybe they aren't that important. And maybe they're not important at all. But if I don't talk about the odd word issue now and then, who will? Let us begin.

I've mentioned on the blog that I fell into HGTV this year, as a tonic to soothe me following the rude conclusion of the baseball season. They use amusing language on the show. Plus, you get to hear the strange comments of buyers. Unscripted television is a delight to me for this very reason. 

The other night I saw a show that featured a young couple looking for a big house. The woman said that when she walked into her dream home, she wanted it to be "grandioso". She used this word over and over, apparently having no clue about the pejorative meaning of the word grandiosity. Adding to the fun, she was accompanied by a husband who had only one thing to say as he was shown various houses: "Where the man room?" Is there anything more appalling than the idea that every man deserves a "man cave"? The chutzpah of such an idea is hard to match -- especially when the "balance" is that the woman gets...a great kitchen. Cuz that's what wimmins wants: kitchens.

The HGTV lexicon (their little language book, in other words) includes some weird terms. For instance, clients often request a "soaker tub". This term reminds me of the equally nonsensical "sniffer dog". Are there really "non-soaking tubs" and dogs that don't sniff? Last night, I heard a new one. A realtor pointed out, helpfully, "and there you have your standing shower". Uh...

Singleton. Simpleton. What's with the -ton? (And Jeepers, I found "doubleton" while looking for singleton. Who knew?) These words are not like the many other words that end in -ton. For instance, wanton or skeleton or mutton. They seem qualitatively different. So what is the meaning of the -ton suffix? 

Random House Dictionary notes that -ton is "a suffix formerly used to form nouns from adjectives: simpleton; singleton." Note the two words they used to illustrate this point. Odd, don't you think? These words seem to be separate from the flock. I don't feel I got a real answer here, so I'll toss it out to you. If you know something more about this suffix and would like to share your information with readers, please comment.

Let us now jump to the peripherally related but wildly entertaining field of movie captions. I found these two gems the other night. (I usually watch movies with captions turned on. There's far too much whispering in movies these days, if you ask me.)

"Unholy grunting" the captions said. How did they know? (Okay, it was a silly demon movie, but still.)
"Eerie music fades up." I thought that was so strange. They kept repeating this, so I noted what the music was doing as the caption appeared. It got louder. How that is "fading up", I don't know.

I now return you to your own lexicon. Use your words wisely, and take the time to enjoy the language that you encounter. But always remember: it's a word jungle out there. Be careful!


Artichoke Annie said...

Aha I guessed correctly on this one. I thought that "fading up" might have something to do with the operation of a soundboard. Voila!

"Err on the side of caution when running a soundboard. It is always easier to start low and pump up the levels of one of the microphones or amplifiers than it is to be too loud and have to lower the range. Audiences can hear when a microphone is too loud and will appreciate a slight adjustment upwards, if needed."

I always love your "wordy posts".

writenow said...

Thanks, Annie. And I'm glad the "fading up" thing made sense to someone. You, apparently.