Growing A Vocab

The Ragtag Daily Prompt word yesterday was EMBIGGEN. Though I’m a day late for posting the response that came to mind when I first saw it, my mind is still on that word.

It was a new one on me so I looked it up in M-W and found that it’s a new word added because of a ’90s TV comic series. Normally I think that words added to a person’s vocabulary and/or the dictionary indicates an increase in knowledge. As we learn, we usually expand our repertoire of useful words. EMBIGGEN, on the other hand, seems like a dumbing-down of vocab. Lacking words like enlarge, expand, extend, increase, the inventor tacked an iffy prefix and suffix onto BIG and send it out into the world.

Rather like calling scrambled eggs an eggbeat. “My eggbeat was too enrunable”

Re: EXPANDING. One of the things I did when we were in the city yesterday is exchange jigsaw puzzles with a friend. She lives in a small seniors’ block with a number of others who enjoy puzzling, as do the seniors living at our nearby Villa, so every blue moon we do an exchange. I filled two boxes with about 15 puzzles I had here; she in exchange gave me a HUGE black garbage bag plus a smaller bag. Counting them later I found a total of 26 — and one was a multi-pack of seven! So instead of decreasing my puzzle stash, I’ve embiggened it. All lovely–and almost all 1000-piece puzzles. (Villa folks prefer 500-piece ones, but they’ll tackle these lovely scenes, I’m sure.)

Embiggened is a good word to describe my upper lip right now, too. As in swelled or puffed up. I felt a small cold sore — or fever blister — arising at the corner of my mouth. By evening my whole upper lip was burning. Now I’m sporting FOUR large bumps spread across my top lip, each doing its bit to fatten the whole. As in the old song, I’ll be “sipping cider through a straw” today.

Doing a quick exchange with another blogger about translation programmes. I wonder if embiggen has been added — or will it be too transient to bother with? What about RETWEET, another new word? Constantly being improved, these programmes are still limited — you still need a proofreader — because English words have so many different applications. I recall one Spanish ESL student laughing about the idea of a nose running! Or consider telling a doctor that your elbow joint isn’t running fast, when you should be saying it isn’t functioning properly.

When we lived in Quebec, some journalist did articles about English companies using translation programmes and the hilarity that resulted at times. For example: gloves with stretch fabric “for a snug fit” became “for a comfortable seizure.” The words mind and spirit — the one word ESPRIT in French — so easily get mixed up, too. In one case, “It doesn’t violate the spirit of the author” with a dictionary’s help became “It doesn’t rape the mind of the author.”

Using the precise word is essential to good communication — and we are so blessed to have such a range of precise words. 🙂

Pixabay image

Discreet Issues

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is DELETE. My response will be this little tale of persnickety spelling. (With thanks to Alexas Fotos and Pixabay for this image.)

Adamson had some reservations about the newly hired secretary. He paused a few paces back from her desk to observe her as she typed up his letter to a client. She was pleasant enough to chat with, and definitely attractive. Perhaps that was her biggest appeal to Fotheringill, who’d hired her. Adamson felt their manager tried to cater to certain clients who had an appreciative eye for pretty smiles and youthful curves.

Observing Miss Secretary at her work, he wondered if this girl had the spelling smarts to do a competent job. Red lines popped up frequently on her screen, indicating that SpellCheck wasn’t happy, and she seemed to hit the DELETE key so often. When he saw the words “a discrete inquiry into the matter” appear on the screen, he gritted his teeth.

Stepping close to her desk, he pointed to the error on her screen. “You have the wrong word there. It’s supposed to be D-I-S-C-R-E-E-T.”

She looked up at him. “Does it matter?”

“Definitely. Look the word up in the dictionary.”

Half an hour later she entered his office with a self-satisfied smile and laid the letter on his desk. He looked at it and his eye automatically went to the needed correction. He shook his head as he read, “We’ve made a discreet inquiry into the matter and found that the concreet was delivered at 9am on May 3rd.”

He pointed to the offending word. “Did SpellCheck not tell you this word was wrong?”

“It was underlined, but I figured, if it’s DISCREET, then it will be CONCREET. It’s your report and you know how to spell,” she replied, sounding rather huffy.

Further down in the letter he spotted another error: “This clause in the contract will be deleeted…”

He slapped his hand to his forehead. “One size fits all,” he muttered.

He handed her the letter. “If you wish to keep this job, Miss Secretary, I recommend that you join a remedial spelling class ASAP. I understand there’s one held every Thursday at the community college for those who made it through school without learning how to spell.”

She bristled, grabbed the report and walked out of his office with her head held high.

He’d have a word with Fotheringill about the basic requisites for secretaries but he doubted it would have much effect. Thank God for the faithful Mrs Taylor, employed to scan and correct all correspondence before it left the office.

As he passed through the office area later, he overheard Miss Secretary complaining to one of the other staff about Mr Adamson being so difficult. “Don’t know why he’s so hard to please. He actually told me to join a spelling class! I mean, does it really matter if it’s EET or ETE? As long as the customer gets the idea.” She sniffed. “They probably don’t spell perfectly, either.”

“He’s always been that way,” the other secretary answered. “Mr Fotheringill never fusses about spelling.” She giggled. “He cares a lot more about how we look. Not to worry. Just send it to Mrs Taylor – she deals with the spelling stuff.”

Adamson rolled his eyes. Oh, well. Five more years and he’d take early retirement. Then he’d write his memoirs!

A Motley Tale

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is MOTLEY

Definitions being:
– variegated
– made up of many different people or things
– a woolen fabric of mixed colours, made centuries ago in England
– a jester or fool
– a mixture especially of incongruous elements

I thought of how Lewis Carroll pulled so many bits and pieces from various tales and rhymes and wove them together for his Alice in Wonderland. Definitely a motley crew of characters.

And my muse said, “Well, why not?” So…

A Motley Verse

The cobbler and the carpenter went walking one fine day.
They wandered through a woods ablaze with leaves of scarlet gray.
There in the trees they came upon a runaway London bus
and said, “This thing should be returned. I guess it’s up to us.”

They drove it to the Firth of Forth and crossed to Isle of Skye
but never did reach London town. (They can’t imagine why!)
So they loaded it on a Viking ship and joined the hearty crew
whose destination was the Thames, much to London’s rue.

The bus was set there on the dock; the drivers held for ransom.
The price was gained, the sacking done by these invaders handsome.
Fatigued, the cobbler and carpenter then caught their train for home:
the 4:50 from Paddington — as mentioned in the tome.

They spotted the crime that set Miss Marple on her sleuthing plan,
and testified at the trial that the doctor was truly the man.
At last they reached their homes and settled back to normal life,
each of them soundly scolded for his wanderings by his wife.

Big-Word Issues

Clcker-Free-Vertor-Images – Pixabay

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is PERNICIOUS, a word that means highly injurious or destructive, deadly, my M-W online says.

One synonym offered is DELETERIOUS. Harmful, often in a subtle or unexpected way. A great word to describe the cold I caught last week Monday. This bug laid me low! Quite unexpected and very undesirable. It villainously derailed my plans for writing and blogging. (What delicious big words!)

I’ve always thought that pernicious carries the sense of an ongoing harm, but apparently not. Yet it’s often applied to medical conditions which are continuous. I could say that my chronic leukemia is a pernicious condition. I’m happy to report that I finally saw my oncologist Monday and she has given me treatment in the form of a pill with a huge name, ACALABRUTINIB.

A mouthful, eh? Thankfully the pill is much smaller than its name, and most people tolerate it quite well. Once I start taking this, I must take it consistently – religiously – twice as day for as long as I live. As soon as I’m over this cold, I’ll get started.

I started my month with the plan of doing other work in the daytime and blogging in the evening, but my own nature or innate rhythm interfered with that ideal. Morning’s a good time for me and I find reading and blogging fuel my brain. By evening I’m inclined to unwind; I’d rather sit with a book rather than write anything. Still, I did work on the novel I’ve been writing…and…I was able to get at some sewing projects last week.

The last time I was in the Cancer Clinic, in May of 2019, before COVID changed all my appointments to phone consultations, I was 40 lbs heavier than I am now. A lot of that weight loss has come since my diabetes changed my life in August. I haven’t sewed much in the past year, so I’m definitely needing some new dresses. (I make all my own.) I was inspired last week and got to it in spite of this pernicious cold.

Well, that’s a quick recap of the past ten days, and a response to the fitting word, pernicious. Now I hope to continue my usual smorgasbord of misc. assorted prose & poems. My omnium-gatherum. (Love that one!)

A Headlong Rush

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is PRECIPITATE

Precipitate can be a verb meaning:
to throw violently, hurl
to bring about especially abruptly
to cause to condense and fall or deposit
to fall headlong, fall or come suddenly into some condition
to move or act with violent or unwise speed

Though this word is usually replaced by something simpler. Rain and snow fall. You throw, toss, or hurl something.

He threw the baseball to his brother, who caught it and chucked it back. However, his second throw was high and wide. The boys watched in dismay as the ball hurtled over the fence into their neighbour’s yard. The sound of breaking glass told them they’d better precipitate their exit from the backyard.

Sir Knightly discovered that his rare and precious volume of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales had disappeared after a dinner party at his stately manor last week. An investigation was made by a private inquiry agent, who found the stolen volume in Lord Thornbury’s possession. In spite of efforts to keep this matter out of the news, the Press got wind of the affair. The news report created a scandal that precipitated his Lordship’s departure for an unnamed colonial shore.

It can be a noun:
a product, result, or outcome of some process or action
or an adjective:
falling, flowing, or rushing with steep descent
exhibiting violent or unwise speed

The precipitate river, swelled with spring runoff, rushed toward the cliffs where its waters squeezed between narrow rock walls and flung themselves onto the rocks below.

When his aunt scolded him for driving too fast, he boasted that he lived his whole life in the fast lane. She replied that this precipitate approach to living may well lead to a premature death.