The Write Way
Friday 25 March 2011
The Name Game
It must be an age thing, but the Love of My Life and I seem to spend a great deal of our time these days playing the Name Game. It goes something like this:
Me: Doesn't that fellow over there look like the actor in that film we saw last month?
LoML: Which one?
Me: The chap sitting reading the paper with his back to the view ...
LoML: No. Which film?
Me: Oh ... the one with that actor we always get mixed up with Wostsisname.
Me: Oh ... you know who I mean. It's a short first name and longer last name ... There's a P in it somewhere.
LoML: Al Pacino ...
Me: That's it! Now I know why I married you (smooch).
Me: Who's the one we always get him mixed up with? The first name has two syllables and it's an unusual last name .. (and then I start going through the alphabet) Alan, Brendon, Colin ... Peter, Quentin, Roger ... No, not Roger, but R sounds right ... Raymond, Richard ... Robert? Yes Robert! Robert de Niro! (Sighing with satisfaction.)
LoMl: Right ... Why did we want to remember Robert de Niro?
Me: Umm ...
It's a wonderful way to while away the hours -- especially on long trips. We spend much of our time, when driving long distances, in conversations that begin, "What was the name of that woman who used to live next door to us when we were first married?" Such an opener can keep us happily entertained for 100+ kilometres!
I can't tell you the amount of times we've had to resort to the Alphabet Trick ... but it always seems to work -- unlike that jarring use of "amount," when we all know it should have been "number."
It's very simple really, and I don't know why so many people -- who should know better -- get it wrong so many times ... Follow closely, Boys and Girls:
You use amount words to refer to quantities of things that are measured in bulk, and number words to refer to things that can be counted.
You can have a LITTLE water left in the dam, with a FEW ducks floating on it.
LESS refers to QUANTITY (a mass of something): There is LESS water in the dam now.
FEWER refers to NUMBER (something that can be counted ... yes, I know it's obvious... now): There are FEWER ducks on the dam this year. (Because you can count them.)
MUCH refers to QUANTITY: There is MUCH to do after the recent disasters. (All we know is that there is a great amount of work to be done.)
MANY refers to NUMBER: MANY people have offered to help. (You can count the exact number.)
This week's Little Something Extra has another excellent resource for all of us who respect the language and want to look after it ... it has something to do with Greengrocers. No, that's all I'm saying at the moment. You'll just have to see for yourself.
And just in time for the weekend ... The US Navy Safety Center once issued these words of warning -- it wouldn't hurt to commit them to memory:
"... sometimes you have to do something a little out of the ordinary to get the job done. But every time you're tempted to do so, ask yourself this simple question: "What is the worst thing that could happen to me if I do this?"
"When your answer comes back with words in it like "maimed" or "destroyed" or "broken" or "drowned" or "wrecked" or "arrested" or "dead" or "burned" or "infected," do something else. And don't stop asking the question."
This week's quiz:
Match up the words and definitions: nexus, eulogy, fulsome, calumny, petrous, idyll, veritably, malleable, harangue, penury
1. a long, passionate speech
2. slander, aspersion
3. like a rock, hard, stony
4. a connection, tie, or link
5. extreme poverty
6. a carefree episode or experience; a short poem describing a picturesque episode
7. disgusting, offensive due to excessiveness
8. unquestionably, certainly
9. formal praise; panegyric
10.yielding; easily shaped; adapting
Here's a touching little tale ...
'Do you know I haven't had the flu all winter?'
Last week's quiz:
serotonin, acetylcholine, sulcus, cerebellum, hippocampus, amygdala, glia, soma, ventricles, hypothalmus
1. cells of your brain that are not neurons or blood vessel cells; help to hold the rest of your brain cells together - GLIA
2. neurotransmitter that is involved in mood (such as helping you to feel happy), sleep, mental health, blood pressure and heartbeat - SEROTONIN
3. located in the back of the brain, this is a busy switching station; receives messages from most of the muscles and joints in your body; communicates with the other parts of the brain, and then sends messages about movement and balance back to your body; also very active in learned skills, such as riding a bike - CEREBELLUM
4. neurotransmitter involved in regulating muscles, memory, mood, sleep, and organs (like the heart) - ACETYLCHOLINE
5. deep crease between the ridges of your cerebral cortex - SULCUS
6. neuron's main cellular space, containing the cytoplasm that surrounds the nucleus and extends into the dendrites and axons - SOMA
7. hollow spaces in your brain that are filled with cerebrospinal fluid - VENTRICLES
8. almond-shaped cluster of small structures near the limbic region; plays a key role in regulating emotions like anger, fear, love, and sadness - AMYGDALA
9. thumb-sized region deep in the middle of the brain that monitors the body's internal functions and helps regulate things like hunger, thirst, body temperature, and hormones - HYPOTHALMUS
10. structure in the limbic region that helps to store and process memories, and then helps to find them when you want to remember something; can also affect emotions - HIPPOCAMPUS
And a story about persistence:
A zookeeper wanted to get some
extra animals for his zoo, so he decided to compose a letter. The only problem
was that he didn't know the plural of 'Mongoose'.
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A Little Something Extra
How many is a few, several, lots? Find out here
And this is for all of us who want to Get it Right!
"The ‘Greengrocer’s apostrophe’ is a term used to describe the incorrect grammatical practice of adding an apostrophe and an ‘s’ to the end of a singular noun to make a plural – often seen on the handwritten signs in greengrocers' shops. It makes an interesting title, but this blog is about much more than incorrectly used apostrophes. Tautologies, non sequiturs, oxymorons, ugly neologisms, Americanisms, management-speak, bureaucratic drivel, political waffle, academic nonsense, grammatical absurdities or just plain old illiteracy – this blog takes a shot at them all, and explains why they’re wrong."
Click to visit here
Some safety tips from the US Navy Safety website here. Many of these could be the basis for an entire novel, some would make excellent short stories or articles.
Oxymoron of the week: Almost done
Word of the week: Guttler (n) one who eats greedily or voraciously
And I'm sure you'll come across one of these at some stage! The word comes from the same origin as "gut" ... the Old English guttas meaning 'to pour.'
This week's Latin phrase will keep you on your toes over the weekend:
Magnus frater spectat te!
[MAG-noos FRAH-ter SPEK-taht TAY!]
(Big Brother is watching you!)
Did you know that you can have your very own Latin reminders? How about undies proclaiming, Bene est rex esse? (It's good to be king) Or a shopping bag that warns, Emptrix nata sum (Born to shop)? Click here for these and more: http://www.cafepress.com/write101
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Copyright Jennifer Stewart 2011
Individual articles copyrighted by their authors.
Copyright 2009 Jennifer Stewart Write101.com