Focusing on Words Newsletter #02

(the second newsletter of a series that was formerly presented to subscribers by the Sr. Scribe, a.k.a. John Robertson)

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The Senior Scribe is trying to find more info for his project.

Language study delayed is language study denied.

Lose/Loose, Use and Abuse; More about [sic] from the Last Newsletter

I probably should have been more precise with my discussion about “lose” and the [sic] example of “loose”. Whenever we mean that something has been lost, we should NEVER say, “I loose the hounds” or “I loosened the hounds” OR “The quarter back loosed his grip on the football” when LOST is meant!

The [sic] misuses are when people replace “lose” with “loose”. Again, I should have written, “... we NEVER ‘loose’ anything when ‘to lose’ is meant! They are two different verbs with different meanings and should not be confused. It’s certainly correct to say, “I let the dogs loose so they could run around (for example).” I maintain that it is unacceptable to say, “I loosed the dogs and I don’t know where they are” when “I lost the dogs .... ” is meant. Does this clarify the point?

I do appreciate the comments from readers. If nothing else, they make me aware that I must be more precise and probably should not have sent the letter out when I was so tired. It was after 2:30 a.m. (where I am) when I submitted the letter to the web and I wanted to get it out to see if it would go out properly (over the internet, that is).

For those who wrote, thank you. It means you’re paying attention and that’s better than being ignored. This reminds me of something I read recently about the “conspiracy of silence”. The phrase was coined by Sir Lewis Morris, a minor poet of the Victorian era. He wanted to be Poet Laureate in England but he never gained this honor. He claimed that critics were jealous of him and, as a result, damned his poetry when they bothered to mention it at all. He once complained at length to Oscar Wilde of this treatment, finally saying: “Oscar, there’s a conspiracy of silence against me. What shall I do?” Wilde replied simply: “Join it!”

Playing with Words

Someone sent this to me without any additional source references. I thought you might enjoy the play on words.

The Washington Post’s “Style Invitational” asks readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are some recent winners:

  • Foreploy: any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of deceiving the opposite sex.
  • Tatyr: a lecherous Mr. Potato Head.
  • Doltergeist: a spirit that decides to haunt someplace stupid, such as your septic tank.
  • Giraffiti: vandalism spray-painted very, very high, such as on an overpass.
  • Sarchasm: the gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the recipient who doesn't get it.
  • Contratemps: the resentment permanent workers feel toward the fill-in workers.
  • Impotience: eager anticipation by men awaiting their Viagra prescription.
  • Reintarnation: coming back to life as a hillbilly.
  • Inoculatte: to take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
  • Hipatitis: terminal coolness.
  • Guillozine: a magazine for executioners.
  • Suckotash: a dish consisting of corn, lima beans and tofu.
Quotes Worth Your Time
All those skiers (downhill speedists)
Offer bright prospects to orthopedists.
—Robert Gordon

Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: A person often finds the present tense and the past perfect.

I always take copious notes;
As a memory aid, I need ’em.
But they’d be more helpful later
If only I could read ’em.
—Paul Richards
In current news stories I’ve noticed a trend
That’s gaining increasing exposure;
Situations that formerly came to an end
Now have to be brought to closure.
—Mary Loper
Farewell, tooth fairy-sandman, too.
We leave without apology.
Grown up, we swap kid stuff like you
For channeling and astrology.
—Harold Emery
Thank you for calling.
All our computers are currently helping other customers.
May I transfer you to a person?
—Edward F. Dempsey

A black hole is a starcophagus.

—Harold Emery
Don't Over Do It

Abstinence merits
Our consideration,
Practiced, of course,
In moderation.
—Henry F. Hill
Contraction Reaction

I hope I do not live to see
The death of the apostrophe.
For readers all will suffer fits
In disentangling its from it's,
And they may also rave and rant,
Unable to tell cant from can't;
Not to mention how they feel
When they mix up well and we'll.
—Based on a news item that said, "Demise of the apostrophe predicted within 50 years."
by Majorie Loper

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