Disasterizing English

My father had a wonderful sense of humor, much of which involved language and word play. When we were little kids, he used to declare, “I have a falubus vocaluberry, made up of volunimus words.”

We’d say, “You mean fabulous.” And he’d say, “Exactly.” So language was up for grabs in our house.

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He also teased us with some of the irregular forms of words, especially when verbs become nouns. For example, he would say, “Look, if you deduce, you come up with a deduction. So if you elude, you come up with an eluction.”

At first, I corrected this. “Deduce and elude are not a parallel set. If you use deduce and produce, you get deduction and production.”

But he answered, “If you enlist, you have made an enlistment, so if you resist, haven’t you made a resistment? And if you desist—”

“Yeah, okay, desistment.”

“Don’t reducify my eluctment of terms. If you retire, you’ve entered retirement, so if you desire, you’ve entered desirement. If you write verse, you’re a versifier, so if you do worse, you’re a worsifier. And if you live in a house, you’re a housifier. Get it?”

We’d roll our eyes, but it loosened up the mood. “You’re a disasterifier of English,” I’d tell him.

“I’m just sophisticationalizing it.”

So I’m just saying that if I mess up in my writing, it’s not my fault.

Author: Samuel A. Johnson

This blog is about hiking, thinking, and writing.

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