Saturday, July 26, 2008

Good Words from Wordsmith.org: The Magic of Words

For all of you "wordaholics" out there, I hope you have found www.wordsmith.org . Below are a few snippets from today's AWADmail Issue 317:


From: Bill Peters (billjanet earthlink.net) word lover
Subject: catachresis
Def: The misuse of words

I went to many business meetings and began to collect the catachresis statements. Here is my best:
"You've got to step up to the plate or the wheels will fall off".
Heard at a seminar of the Chemical Industry of California circa 1988.

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From: Vaishali Kamath (vaishali.kamath cognizant.com)
Subject: Catachresis

A brother-in-law of mine once said (probably without knowing that it was wrong usage):
"...and the share prices plummeted gradually."

From: Kevin O'Grady (kevin.ogrady ontario.ca)
Subject: catachresis

My favourite example of catachresis is that of Camil Samson, who was the leader of the Quebec Social Credit Party campaigning against the governing Union Nationale in the 1970 provincial election:

"Ladies and gentlemen, the Union Nationale has brought you to the edge of the abyss. With Social Credit, you will take one step forward."

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From Gabe Helou (gabe mystery.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--parapraxis
Def: A slip of the tongue (or pen) that reveals the unconscious mind

And not entirely without reason. In his famous dictionary, Johnson defined oats as, "A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people."

I expect you will be flooded with e-mail from people quoting Boswell's rejoinder:

"Aye, and that's why England has such fine horses, and Scotland such fine people."

Still, it bears repeating.

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From: Leilani Chandler (leilani nortonmusic.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--orthoepy
Def: 1. Study of the pronunciation of words. 2. Customary pronunciation of a language.

What a laugh-filled moment this word brought to me this morning! Definition: study of the pronunciation of words... and the word for that action has TWO pronunciations. What a delightful bit of unintentional humor.


A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:

Arguments over grammar and style are often as fierce as those over Windows versus Mac, and as fruitless as Coke versus Pepsi and boxers versus briefs.
-Jack Lynch, English professor, author (b. 1967)

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1 comment:

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