Chalant, Mayed, And Plussed
Nothing sabotages communications… like the English language.
JACK RUNNINGER, O.D.
Beknownst to me, I once had a patient who appeared chalant, mayed, and plussed. His clothing was kempt and heveled, and he definitely was not peccable, nor domitable, He seemed to be both gruntled and sipid.
If the English language were logical, the italicized words would be real ones instead of gobbledygook. Each is a legitimate word if you add a negative prefix (mis, un, in, dis, or non). Without the negative prefix, they should be real words meaning the opposite. For example, if you take the “dis” out of dishonor, you have a real word meaning the opposite. Therefore if a messy person is disheveled, a neat one ought to be “heveled.”
Good communication skills are important to practice success. English being such a crazy language sure doesn’t make it easy. How can a “fat” chance and a “slim” chance mean the same thing? Yet a “wise man” and a “wise guy” are opposites.
“If the English language made any sense,” said a man named Doug Larson, “lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers.”
You pronounce it how?!
I was in first grade when I had my first bout with phonics, another problem area in English. The teacher one day said to the class, “Jack will be in charge of our reading session until I get back.” (She may have had to go to the bathroom but I don’t recall her holding up her hand. Which reminds me of the first grade teacher telling her class on the first day, “If you need to go to the bathroom, just hold up your hand.” One of the kids asked, “How is that going to help?”)
ILLUSTRATION BY AMY WUMMER
Dick and Jane
I haughtily ordered one of the kids to begin reading, hoping he would make a mistake so that I could demonstrate my leadership abilities by correcting him.
“Dick and Jane began to laugh,” he read. “Wrong!” I interrupted gleefully. I pointed out to him that any idiot would know that a “gh” was not pronounced the same as an “f.” But in my eagerness to show off, I had forgotten that I had no earthly idea what the correct pronunciation was.
Fortunately, the teacher returned in the nick of time to save me before I had to give the “correct” answer.
English phonics are crazy. “G-h-o-t-i” could be pronounced “fish” — “gh” as in laugh, “o” as in women, and “ti” as in nation.
The school prom
Words that have more than one meaning are another English language problem. A high school student had lost an eye in an accident. He could not afford an artificial eye, so whittled himself one out of wood. It didn’t look too good, and everyone in school began calling him, “Wood Eye.” He was so sensitive about this nickname he developed an inferiority complex, and never would ask a girl for a date.
At the school prom he sat by himself in a corner. He noted across the dance floor was a girl also sitting by herself. “Since no one else is asking her, maybe she’d dance with me,” he said to himself. Summoning up a little courage, he approached her and said, “Would you like to dance with me?”
She was completely bewildered when he turned red and hurriedly ran off, when she had accepted by enthusiastically exclaiming, “Would I! Would I!” OM
JACK RUNNINGER, OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE’S ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@COMCAST.NET.