The Write Way
1 November 2002
Undiscovered Secrets ...
Our area has long been cast as one of those "undiscovered secrets" (what other sort are there?) but sometime during the past year, someone let the cat out of the bag. Now ratty old houses that no-one wanted to buy are being sold for ridiculous sums of money simply because they're on the waterfront or they have water views or they might, if you stand on a chair and lean out of the bathroom window ...
Before we bought our place, we looked at another a few houses down on the other side of the street. We rejected it because it was on a small block, had a unit complex on the high side and neighbours peering into the back yard from the other two sides. It was one of those places that had been added to over the years, and the downstairs section was a rabbit warren of rooms leading into rooms with no proper layout.
Upstairs, the bathroom had been "renovated" by amateurs and the shower had been plonked straight onto the bare wood floor that was rotting away merrily as a result. The agent told us that it had "magnificent water views" but neglected to mention that the way you got to see the views was to open a (small) cupboard in a (small) hallway next to the bathroom and climb up a ladder.
At the top of the ladder you had to negotiate your way over a railing and there, under the bare tin roof, was a room (and I use the term loosely) with a single dormer window that opened to reveal what was admittedly, a stunning view of the Bay.
Somebody did eventually buy the house and while we set about renovating our place, that one stayed the same. A few months ago, another For Sale sign appeared outside this house, then the Sold sticker went up and we all sat back to watch what was going to happen. Especially since we knew that the place sold for over twice what it had two years ago!
The first thing the new owners did was to cut down a beautiful big gum tree that was on the fence line. The tree was around 15 metres high and was the local food source and home for local lorrikeets, magpies, wood pigeons, sparrows and more ... I hated these people already!
Then the semi-trailers arrived and we thought they must have been going to remove the house.
Why? We all wondered ... It should have been bulldozed not sold to someone else ... but they had paid over $300,000 for it, so we supposed they needed to recoup some of their money.
Then the fun started ...
The house removers started to jack the house up to put it on the truck, as we thought ... Then they jacked it up some more ... and some more ...
All the neighbours gathered on the street watching in awe ... People drove past to see where it would stop ... Amazed passers-by started taking photos ... And yes, I couldn't resist either. You can see what it looks like here: http://www.write101.com/stilts.htm
The place looks as if it's comprised of a body and four skinny legs ... reminds me of something out of The War of the Worlds.
OK ... Yes, I know you spotted that one too ...
Comprise means "is made up of" or "consists of." It comes from the Latin comprensus (to include; comprehend) The whole comprises the parts.
Compose means "to put together" or "make." This one comes from the Latin componere (to put together). The parts compose the whole.
The place looks as if it's comprised of a body and four legs - WRONG
The place looks as if it's composed of a body and four legs - RIGHT
The place looks as if it comprises a body and four legs. - Also RIGHT
It looks as if a body and four legs compose the place. - And this is OK, too.
I like this little tale that Deb found:
A detachment of paratroopers was practicing in a rural area. One jumper was dropping down on the property of an old mountain man and his very large family. One of the kids saw the chute floating down and yelled out to his father, "Pa, bring your shotgun. The stork is bringing 'em full grown now!"
This week's quiz:
Match each word below with its definition:
I know I've picked on Telemarketers in the past, but this is a t'riffic help for anyone who still gets those annoying calls right on dinner time - it's a script for the consumer! http://www.xs4all.nl/~egbg/counterscript.html Print it out and enjoy!
Last week's quiz:
1. juxtaposition: to place side by side TRUE
2. filibuster: one engaged in unauthorised warfare TRUE (PLUS: the use of obstructive tactics, such as making long speeches, to delay legislation)
3. truncate: put out of action FALSE (and True) Bit of a trick question this one – it literally means to shorten by cutting off a part which, I guess, would definitely put you out of action, depending on which "part" was cut off!
4. incarcerate: deny the use of FALSE (to put in prison … OK, I suppose you could say that this also would deny the use of a few things …)
5. eugenic: produces fine offspring TRUE
6. convocation: a provincial synod of the clergy TRUE (Now, before you write to point out the finer points of a convocation, let me say that dictionary.com says this word means, "A clerical assembly of the Anglican Church similar to a synod but assembling only when called." But, hey … that’s near enough for my money!)
7. complicity: arranged on a temporary basis FALSE (Means the state of being an accomplice)
8. tantamount: coming to the same thing TRUE
9. peculate: to embezzle or steal money TRUE
10.equivocation: change in personality FALSE (Means a statement that, while it’s not really a lie, avoids an unpleasant truth by being a bit on the ambiguous side … "Um. Yes, Lavinia …You do cut quite a figure ... those black leopard-skin print bike shorts really are very you … ")Last week's reference to the "expletives" reminded one reader (psynapse) of this story "of a company report where the FD wrote ' This company has been on the edge of a precipice, but has taken a decisive step forward.' In another, the shadow side of the organisation (where the real discussions and -usually- complaints could be heard) was discussed by the board and the conclusion recorded as follows: 'Our undiscussibles are so undiscussible, we can't discuss them!' That was a major global player!"
Drop by the FOTA board to ask questions or post comments about language: http://pub37.bravenet.com/forum/show.php?usernum=3170114826
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A Little Something Extra
Since the year is rapidly drawing to a close, it might be an opportune time to look at some practical types of writing ... and what could be more useful if you're considering changing employment in the New Year than your resumé? Here's a great site that discusses why the layout of your resumé is so important: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/pw/p_resdesign.html
Word of the week: Ultracrepidarian (adj) Relating to speaking or offering opinions on subjects you know nothing about (and I must point out that it's ultracrEpidarian ... no A in there at all ...)
Oxymoron of the week: Golf fitness ...
If you mix with those who are fond of the odd moment of ultracrepidarian indulgence, here's a Latin phrase you can use the next time they drive you to distraction:
Telum imbelle, sine ictu! (A feeble weapon, thrown without effect!)
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