old NYer goodness
October 22, 2003 12:11 PM   Subscribe

I was plussed. It was concerting to see that she was communicado... An 1994 New Yorker story chock full of presumably sensical words that look wacky without their negating prefixes. A Smackeral from the great beebo.org
posted by stupidsexyFlanders (23 comments total)
Very amusing. Reminds me of something from The Discouraging Word.
posted by shoepal at 12:22 PM on October 22, 2003

I liked it - it's interesting to see how many such words and expressions there are. I've often wondered about a few of them, like (dis)gruntle and (im)maculate - how do these words come about? Were the 'weird' words ever in common usage? Calling languagehat...
posted by widdershins at 12:27 PM on October 22, 2003

posted by delmoi at 12:29 PM on October 22, 2003

A spicable and ferior post – I found it truly gusting.
posted by taz at 12:30 PM on October 22, 2003

I love that essay -- thanks! I used to teach freshman English, and many of my students were recent immigrants, so I often found myself explaining that certain words (like ept) were perfectly grammatical, but not really idiomatic.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:41 PM on October 22, 2003

Ah, hell. I thought I was the only one who is often gruntled. Well gruntled, at that.
posted by Shane at 12:46 PM on October 22, 2003

I'm appointed everyone's being so ruth with this old article. But was anyone combobulated reading it?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:51 PM on October 22, 2003

I've always made an effort to be couth.
posted by sharpener at 12:55 PM on October 22, 2003

That little story has the surdity of a thousand abs.
posted by DenOfSizer at 1:22 PM on October 22, 2003

Couth linguistics, but certainly delible. I predict habitants here to cite defatigable ruly, terior wrath.
posted by ed at 1:41 PM on October 22, 2003

posted by quercus at 1:56 PM on October 22, 2003

Man that's harder to read than CAPSLOCK TYPING SINCE IT'S CAPSLOCKS DAY or stuff written with spoonerisms, where you leverse the retters of wevery ord tou yype.
posted by Happydaz at 2:09 PM on October 22, 2003

I heard this a couple of weeks ago on "Car Talk". I like it! So, what does a pert do, and why did he quit?
posted by Eekacat at 2:21 PM on October 22, 2003

Good to see the use of "mitigated gall". Why is "gall" usually "unmitigated"? Why can't it just be "gall"?
posted by internal at 2:45 PM on October 22, 2003

I had a friend who always said that "chalant" should be a word. (In English, that is.)
posted by boredomjockey at 3:45 PM on October 22, 2003

hahahahahahaha - wonderful!
posted by scarabic at 3:51 PM on October 22, 2003

Good to see the use of "mitigated gall". Why is "gall" usually "unmitigated"? Why can't it just be "gall"?

Gall itself is not necessarily a bad thing. It is a source of energy, forthrightness, assertiveness, vigor, impulse. But the energetic force of the gall needs to be moderated, mitigated, held in check by the greater force of ethical personality and thereby directed to appropriate creative ends.

When gall is not mitigated it becomes, well, unmitigated gall, an almost sociopathic assertiveness without thought of other and even conception that the needs and feelings of others have any standing for consideration.

It's the old ego/superego/id sort of thing.

I have no idea if any of this is true, but it sounds plausible. Sorry for not using any truncated words.
posted by alms at 3:57 PM on October 22, 2003

I thought it was a sweet story, and that the writing style added to the feeling. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I thought it gave a good impression of the dislocation that accompanies love at first sight (not that I'd know, but...) Notice how the style becomes more graceful in the last two sentences once they're together.
posted by lbergstr at 4:47 PM on October 22, 2003

widdershins: There are all kinds of reasons. Nonplussed, for example, is not from a "plussed" but from the Latin expression non plus 'no more, no further,' hence an (obsolete) English noun nonplus 'a state in which nothing more can be said or done,' hence the verb. Inept does have its "opposite," apt; the vowels are different because they're from Latin, and in Old Latin unstressed vowels got shifted, so that *inaptus became ineptus. Inferior only looks like it has a negative prefix; it's actually the Latin comparative of inferus 'low.' Incommunicado is borrowed from Spanish (where it has only one -m-)—it's the past participle of incomunicar 'to deprive of communication.' Uncouth simply outlived its "opposite." And so on.

stupidsexyFlanders: I too have always enjoyed this piece; thanks for posting it!
posted by languagehat at 5:29 PM on October 22, 2003

My fave is Henry Miller's description of himself as feeling "pervious and vincible" (I think it was in Black Spring).
posted by nomis at 8:33 PM on October 22, 2003

You people are so illusioned! Can't you see how pressive that piece is?
posted by mattpfeff at 10:23 PM on October 22, 2003

Ah, languagehat, I knew you'd come through. Many thanks to you.
posted by widdershins at 8:35 AM on October 23, 2003

i always thought fective was the best of these. i'm totally fective.
posted by fancypants at 9:54 AM on October 23, 2003

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