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Ghoti-ing Around for New Words

Ghoti-ing Around for New Words  -

(Warning:  This particular post wanders more than some others and may leave you discombobulated.)

I did something stupid today, but at least it had no consequences; I caught myself in my stupidity; and I did it in private, so no one knows (Ooops!).

If you hadn't guessed already, I'm a bit persnickety when it comes to spelling and grammar.  

I went to the internet (the almighty and trustworthy source for all things, right?) to look up the difference between “gross” and “grotesque”.   I remember when I was a kid in school, we were taught to use “grotesque” for most things.   Nowadays, no one even knows this word exists !  (Probably because it's much harder to spell, she thinks, wryly.)   And it's been bugging me lately - this and some other words that have been changing, or whose spelling has been changing.  The normal dictionary sites weren't very helpful at all, but of course, they wouldn't be, would they – if the word was changing in common usage nowadays?   Internet dictionaries are mostly all new – right up to the minute.   And as such, sometimes this makes them useless, like when you want to find out how things used to be before stupid John Q. Drooling Public decided to change things just by virtue of repetitious habit and sheer numbers.  There are so few of us Persnickers trying to hold back the tide.   I managed to stumble upon a dictionary that went much further back though, and it finally gave me decent answer, a decent description of both words so I could compare them and their usages.   This website was presented as a PICTURE of the dictionary page, and had teensy little writing, in multiple columns.   I was moved to poke around a bit to find out when it was written.   It was called the Dictionary of the Century. 

(And yes, I'm coining that term, starting right now - “Persnicker”: noun – a person who is too picky about trivial things, and who often spends way too much time surfing the web looking up useless drivel, or proofreading other people's websites for fun.)


The Century dictionary and cyclopedia, by William Dwight Whitney - The Century Co., 1906

So I thought I'd look up some other words that have been changing lately. They've been dropping the rule about doubling consonants before adding suffixes to some words since I left school – but only for certain words.  See the word “dropping” in that last sentence?   That goes by the rule.   Starts as “drop”, then you double the “p” before adding “ing”. Otherwise, you'd think the vowel was now a long “o”, as in droh-ping, right?   OK, so, here I go to look up the first of my favorite tick-me-off-lately words..... I no sooner press “enter” than I catch myself in my own idiocy.   The word I was so smugly looking up, to prove to myself that it used to have a doubled consonant, was “busses”.  Are you laughing yet?   No?   Go back up to the reference book I cited.....its title, the company and.... (CENTURY dictionary – published 1906 !!) Yeah !  And that's why they don't let me drive one of those !

So after I finished rolling my eyes at myself, I typed in my other bugaboo - “traveller”. I figured they certainly had those back then.   This word seriously still deserves both consonants lately.  Have you tried “travelling” anywhere nowadays?   It's a real hassle, deserving of all the consonants it can get.

Then I wandered on to look up and discover other words.

Word Origin & History

Callipygian : "of, pertaining to, or having beautiful buttocks," 1800, from Gk.kallipygos, name of a statue of Aphrodite at Syracuse, from kalli- , combining form of kallos "beauty" + pyge "rump, buttocks." SirThomas Browne (1646) refers to "Callipygæ and women largely composed behinde." --  Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Steatopygia : Greek: στεατοπυγία) is a high degree of fat accumulation in and around the buttocks. The deposit of fat is not confined to the gluteal regions, but extends to the outside and front of the thighs, forming a thick layer reaching sometimes to the knee. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steatopygia
History : This development constitutes a genetic characteristic of the Khoisan. It is especially prevalent in women, but also occurs to a lesser degree in men. In most racial groups of Homo sapiens, females tend to exhibit a greater propensity to adipose tissue accumulation in the buttock region as compared with males.

( Yathink?   Have there been official studies done on this “phenomenon”?  Or did you just walk around a Wal-mart?  Actually, if it's crowded, you have a hard time walking around in a Wal-mart for just this reason ! )

How DID I get here, you ask?  I was looking for just the right word, the bestest word to describe someone really picky about spelling.   I started with Noodge, but that wasn't right, then on to Persnickety, and along the side of the page was this tasty list of odd words, and I couldn't resist nibbling....
Flibbertigibbet (from the Sound of Music), 
Kerfuffle (I'd seen this before but it's so cute I looked it up so I could use it sometime.), Discombobulated (I get this way often, but it doesn't bother me enough to make me....) Defenestrate.   Then there was one on the list I'd never seen before anywhere, and even had a hard time deciding how to pronounce - “Callipygian”, which led to its opposite, “Steatopygia”.  And there you have it.  Internet ADD at its finest.  (I also have headphones on, with music on hold and a playlist of 30 tunes waiting, and another window open with the game I've been trying to make headway in all day.... Never thought I had ADD until I got this laptop.

By the way.... Can you be a “bit persnickety”?  Isn't that like a “bit pregnant”?   Or am I being too nit-picky about it?

At the side of the page, in related searches of “kerfuffle”, I see “Charlton Heston”. Whaaaat??   Gotta check this one out.... Can't imagine “Ben Hur” ever being in a kerfuffle ! What?  He's DEAD?  Why didn't anyone tell me?


“Copacetic” - World English Dictionary – adj. - Slang (US), (Canadian) very good; excellent; completely satisfactory.

Copacetic, copasetic, copesetic or copesettic - (Apparently, you can spell this silly thing any way you feel like it !  Won't that make John Q. Drooling Public happy?)

copacetic - 1919, but it may have origins in 19c. Amer. Eng. Southern blackspeech. Origin unknown, suspects include Latin, Yiddish (cf. Heb.kol b'seder), Italian, Louisiana French (coupe-sétique), and Native American. None is considered convincing by linguists.

(So no one has decided how to spell it, and no one knows from whence it came. Pardon me, but that's just not, well..... kohpahsettick ! )

Slacktivism - a portmandeau of 'slack' and 'activism' for feel-good token gestures that don't actually improve anything.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

An article from the October 1874 issue of St. James's Magazine by S. R. Townshend Mayer, entitled "Leigh Hunt and Charles Ollier". The article focuses on the relationship of Hunt, a noted writer, and Ollier, his publisher, as reflected in a series of unpublished letters. On p. 406 of the article, an 1855 letter from Ollier to Hunt is quoted:

And here an experiment in orthography, which it may amuse some of our readers to carry further at this season of puzzles and charades, and kindred jovial perplexities:- ”My son William has hit upon a new method of spelling fish.   As thus: -G.h.o.t.i.  Ghoti, fish.  Nonsense! S ay you.  By no means, say I.  It is perfectly vindicable orthography.  You give up?  Well then, here is the proof.  Gh is f, as in tough, rough, enough; o is i as in women; and ti is sh, as in mention, attention, &e. So that ghoti is fish.”

The ghoti letter is dated December 11, 1855 --   http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=81

This website noted “some other weird ghoti-esque respellings that are even more elaborate in their absurdity...” (And the one I liked best was phaighpheawraibt : from physic, straight, nephew, earth, write, captain, debt.   I'll leave it to you to sound out, but it was the one I liked the best.)

Lastly, the final thing I learned tonight was that I am not the worst one on the planet, the pickiest, the Queen of Persnickers.  Whew !   After the fun of finding this Ghoti article, there was a L-O-N-Ggggg, and TRULY boring string of nitpickers shredding it and the rest of the article to pieces and mulling about and arguing nuances of archaic languages.   Even I was both swamped and bored !  So I'm not the weirdest person on the planet.  Good to know.

Hmmmm.....You know....someday, when I'm in a really bad mood, I might strike back at all of you lazy misspellers and start writing everything in that “olde orthographic” way.  Yeah, none of you will get it, or bother, and it will take me forever, but by the time I've finished the length of a Facebook Status, or a YouTube comment, all the mad will have blown off.

And that's how I'll become 
the weirdest person on the planet.
(Check out the Spellling Checker Poem here:  qwinkly.livejournal.com/32160.html)


Jun. 17th, 2011 02:54 pm (UTC)
I'll admit: I didn't read the whole thing, but what I did read was fairly interesting. I can say that 'flibbertigibbet' is one of my favorite words, though not apart of my active vocabulary...unless I'm singing the song. Also, I watched an episode of 'Spectacular Spiderman', defenestration was not only defined, it was demonstrated.


blue, Swan, water

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