The Write Way
12 August 2005
You're How Old?
Age is funny, isn't it? I mean, inside your head, how old do you feel?
Me too. You sort of get stuck at a certain age, don't you? I can remember my dad telling me that in his head he was always 18 ... Young and fit with his whole life stretching into the limitless future. That's why it was always a bit of a shock for him when he couldn't bend over to tie his shoelaces but had to sit down and grab one leg and haul it onto the coffee table in front of him ...
What's that? Yes ... it was rather a lot of beige ... but beige goes with everything so you can mix and match ... I know .... but ... but ... Oh, all right then ... The real reason is that it's a very forgiving colour! Are you happy now that you've forced that confession from me?
You spend your early teen years trying to blend in with the background so no-one notices you; then your late teens, twenties and thirties are the peacock years when you dress to draw attention to yourself. (My entire wardrobe was emerald green, turquoise, jade, fuschia, purple ... the brighter and bolder the better and not a soupçon of beige to be seen!) Then by the end of your forties, you're heading to the softer, more natural colours and before you can say, "Turn that music down!" it's Welcome to the World of Beige.
So this colour business is all part of the ageing process, isn't it?
Now how you reacted to that last comment all depends on where you call home ... Those of us who follow the UK system of spelling wouldn't bat an eye because we know that when you put an E after a consonant, you make it soft instead of hard (and when you put an E after a consonant after a vowel, you make the vowel long, instead of short).
e.g. rag, rage
And in order to indicate that the consonant should be pronounced in its soft format rather than the hard, we leave the E when we add suffixes
e.g. age, ageing
But livable not 'liveable' (because the I is short, not long).
However, if you live somewhere that's under the influence of Noah Webster, you'd be feeling alarmed by the sight of that extra E.
I haven't quite been able to follow why dear, departed Noah took the E out of these words ... I mean, I can see the logic behind substituting '...or' for ...'our' but the E is a guide to pronunciation and I feel for you not having those additional little signposts.
It's difficult enough as it is to make sense of our English pronunciation, as this classic little ditty shows:
The bandage was wound around the wound.
The farm was used to produce produce.
The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
We must polish the Polish furniture.
He could lead if he would get the lead out.
The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert
Since there is no time like the present, he thought
it was time to present the
A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
There are lots more like this. (Thank you, Albert, for finding this and sending it today when I needed it!)
You can renew your
acquaintance with the most troublesome group of letters in English (the '...ough'
gang) here: http://www.write101.com/W.Tips261.htm
This week's quiz:
Since we've been discussing colour a little this week, match up these colour terms:
celadon, saffron, azure, incarnadine, aeneous, ferruginous, smaragdine, griseous, lurid, sable
1. bronze colour
2. mottled with gray, especially bluish gray; grizzled
3. very dark; blackish brown
4. shining with a red glow
5. fleshy pink; blood coloured
6. a light shade of blue
7. pale to very pale green
This is so old, it has hairs on its legs ... but that's what we're rabbiting on about today, isn't it?
The preacher came to call the other day. He said that, at my age, I should be thinking about the hereafter. I told him I do -- all the time. No matter where I am -- in the bedroom upstairs, in the kitchen or in the garage -- I ask myself, "Now what am I here after?"
I warned you!
Last week's quiz:
1. Hagiology - the study of the lives and legends of saints
2. Ursine - compares human beings to the bear
3. Usury - the practice of lending money at exorbitant interest rates
4. Urbanity - the quality of being refined
5. Epitome: a condensed account
6. Abstemious: moderate in demands for food and drink
7. Perfidious: faithless
8. Sententious: aphoristic
9. Phlegmatic: slow to act
10.Derogatory: tries to discredit others
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A Little Something Extra
Further to our discussion about pronunciation ... here's a page you'll enjoy if you have a few private minutes to spare ... and it must be private because you have to read this out loud. Here's a sample: "Wants pawn term dare worsted ladle gull hoe lift wetter murder inner ladle cordage honor itch offer lodge, dock, florist." Can you tell what it is? No? Then go here: http://web.syr.edu/~rsholmes/reads/reading/ladle_rat_rotten_hut.html
Word of the week: Porraceous (adj) leek-green in colour
This comes form the Latin word for ... wait for it ... a leek! (porrus 'a leek')
Tautology of the week: pale and wan
And here's a Latin phrase for when you've just spent weeks and weeks working on a Mission Statement for work:
Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus (Mountains will be in labour, and an absurd mouse will be born OR All that work and nothing to show for it)
Been there ... done that!
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Copyright 2005 Jennifer Stewart
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