Think of English as the contortionist among world languages. While staid tongues like French, German and Manchurian still stand stiffly at attention while waiting for dull academics to approve application form 1427(A) – in triplicate – for a new word meaning games that work with Commodore 64, English twitches once and embraces iPhoneX as a
verb. (note: German admittedly has a neat little detour, whereby they simply add many words together to make one long new one; Thus, der longishnoodlefromlipzdangle comes to mean what we in English would simply indicate by pointing to our mouth and saying,”You got a pasta fleck there.”)
In September alone, the OED added 1,000 new words to our bursting dictionary, including bracketology, meaning the seeding and categorizing of college tournament basketball teams. Try that, Office de la langue Française!
But flexible as our language is, moving quickly and nimbly can cause hyper-extension and bad twists (also acute embarrassment, as happened on my wrought-metal headboard a few years ago. But I digress…) In its speed and agility, English has certainly missed a few turns, but since we can instantly coin new words, maybe we can also instantly get change for them.
Listen; If a vegetarian eats only vegetables, then a veterinarian should only eat retired soldiers.
Here’s another instance where those pushy plant plunderers ruined the party. Kindly old animal doctors had been tending to sick animals since the 1600’s. and brought us lovable old veterinarians like Dr. Doolittle. Two hundred years later, a bunch of loud leaf lovers formed an association and appropriated most of a very respectable word. They may have thought they would thus win instant love and admiration, but have yet to produce a Dr. Cudmuch or other popular character.
A carnivore eats meat. A herbivore eats plants. An omnivore eats both. (Note:
Both meat and plants, that is; Not both carnivores and herbivores, though a case could be made for some sharks and all teenage males and….wait a minute….hmm…never mind...) What have vegetarians done to get their own special word, huh? Has anybody asked alfalfa fields how wonderful those mulch-munching munchkins are?
If they simply must have their own name, let it be vegivore. And leave our nice old animal doctors alone.
Note to Vegans: You may keep your name. First, it’s cool; Like some alien race. Secondly, you are the only ones who use the word. The rest of us just call you sickly. And awfully thin.
Words We Forgot Because They Were Forgettable
Quick now, tell me what the word is for something that is spelled the same forward as backward. Come on….you learned it in Grade Five. Forgot, didn’t you?
But that’s fine, because it’s an awfully stupid word for such a neat thing. We should all forget it. Now, ‘Able was I ere I saw Elba’ is the most famous example of the boringly-named palindrome, but it is a very dated phrase. Nobody knows what ‘ere’ , ‘Elba’ or ‘Napoleon’ is any longer, and palindrome anyway sounds like something to do with old airplanes.
It would me much easier to remember (and way more fun) if we named this snaky wordplay with a word that actually is one. And palinilap also sounds friendly and it is easy to spell. Impressed? Will you join the campaign?
?I did WOW did I?
Then there’s that godawful grade-school word for a word that sounds like the action it describes. You know. The snake hisses. The soda fizzes. The thunder booms. The booms thunder. The bubble pops. The teacher babbles. The students mumble. For some odd reason, all this word excitement has been saddled with the word onomatopoeia, which has way more vowels than sense and isn’t even helpful to know in Scrabble©. It’s a dumb, dumb word.
Here’s an exercise to illustrate. Question: Find examples in the following sentence: “When I whizz, there are splashes and dribbles; sometimes a gush and other times a drizzle.”
Correct Answer: “Sounds like Onomatopoeia alright. You’d better see a urologist right away.”
Didn’t get that answer, didja? Of course not, but it does sound like a condition. Much, much better would be to call those words Zounds©. Try the exercise again looking for zounds©. Aced it, right?
So let’s kill onomatopoeia without expensive medical treatment, and use Zounds©. It’s shorter, easier to remember, and actually describes what it is. Also, much easier to spell.
And while we’re at it, can we please respectfully retire the word ‘awesome‘? It’s a venerable and honourable word which used to denote the grandeur of the Grand Canyon and the dazzle (there’s an example of Zounds© for you) of the aurora borealis. Now I’ve heard my children use it to describe an eraser of a hairbrush or worse (“Dad; Look at this awesome cat video”), but that doesn’t irk too much since I don’t much listen to anybody under thirty. Now, however, even my peers are saying things like “Wasn’t Jeopardy awesome last night?”, and “I had an awesome dump this morning” and “This oatmeal is awesome”.
Let’s thank awesome for its service and put it to pasture, because now…well, that’s just cruel treatment.
Meanwhile…In Textual Intercourse
There isn’t much to kvetch about in the sexual lexicon. Orgasm, climax, diddle, coming, thrusting, honey pot, erection, lubricating, clit, panting, moaning, 69, nipples, woody, engorged, trembling thighs, and many more are all wonderful. And the words aren’t anything to complain about either. Except for one.
Now, fellatio is a fine word. It sounds noble, beautifully Mediterranean, and ends with
an appropriate ‘OH!’ (note: A few more H’s would have been perfect). It can also be split at the three quarter mark and turned into a verb. It can be used in conversation. But fellatio’s counterpart is obtuse. Cunnilingus connotes something devious and ends with some random other guy’s name. I’ve never heard the word spoken, and it only conjures up an Irish airline. There is no way to turn it into a word (“So I cunninlinned her…“) and how the hell is it pronounced anyway? It really has to go.
This is an important matter and should be turned to public debate. Suggestions for a new word should ideally be Zoundic and a palinilap. (Actually, palinilap itself wouldn’t be bad. It has the friendly pal, the in, and the lap. Hmm.)