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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Words by the Wayside

Here’s an old column of mine – slightly updated.
Isn’t seemly an interesting word? It means attractive or well suited. It’s not far in meaning from “nice” or “good” or “fair” (in any one of its contexts) but there’s something else there too.
Would you feel complimented if someone said you were seemly? There’s nothing in the dictionary that gives us any sense of bad connotation but it’s there. Maybe it’s just how the word sounds. Seemly is seemingly seamy, seeping deeply in the sewers of sinister similes. I once made the mistake of calling a young woman handsome. As all of you are undoubtedly wiser than I, you know that didn’t go over well. I don’t imagine I’d do any better calling her seemly.

A lot of words seem to go that way. Technically, there’s nothing wrong with words like pulchritude, sagacious and chipper but there’s a reason most people use the words beauty, wise and cheerful instead. Let’s face it; a rose by any other name might not even make the FTD top ten list. When’s the last time you got a bouquet of Nasturtiums? I know it’s been a while for me.
What if Wally Spudpieler, the well known fictional originator of the word rose, (He also coined the favorite knick-name for potato in Indiana… potatoe – those of you under thirty, Google Dan Quayle)

 had reasoned like this?
Hmm. quite a flower we have here. I can’t remember seeing one of these before. Maybe I should bend down and pick one of these for my lovely girlfriend, Nasturtium. Ow! What’s this? It pricked my finger when I tried to pick it. Pretty dangerous flower! Maybe I should give it a name that’ll warn people about the thorns. Something like ‘prickpicker.’ Still… it is a good-looking flower. Maybe it deserves a prettier name. I know! I’ll call it a ‘seemly prickpicker!’”
(Yes, Wally was fictional.)
There’s a bit of me that desires to dredge up the words left on the wayside, words that fail to roll off the tongue. I make an effort to include the words Lugubrious and Phlegmatic in every conversation I can, even though I have no clue what either word means.
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe our de-evolution of the English language to a basic couple of a hundred words that are easy to abbreviate when texting or on Twitter is a good move for the human race. If we don’t know the word annihilate, maybe we won’t.

Here's the vid.  What did we do before You Tube?

One side note. I just discovered that the email I thought got responses from this blog was the one I set up to harass Geraldo Rivera. I was wondering why I got so many emails from lawyers, with very little response from the blog. I found the email from this blog which I hadn’t checked since the fall of 2013. My server, (figuring I didn’t care,) deleted most of my unread messages, so if you wrote…my bad.

Side note number 2. My unintentional 2 out of 2 prediction for the NCAA football semi-finals has caught the attention of Big Louie and the crowd down at ABC Liquor Inporters (yes, I mean inporters – according to Big Louie, “we bring liquor in, not im.”) The result is that for the next few posts, I’ll be making football predictions. Help understanding the game would be appreciated. For instance, why is roughness unnecessary and what does yellow laundry have to do with it?