Thursday, May 25, 2006

More Spurious Words

Here are two sets of words from 1000 Mistakes Corrected and Peculiarities of Language Noted, by Prof. W.H.Larrabee and Prof. H. A. Buttz, New York: N. Tibbals & Sons, 1873. The first set are words that may surprise many of us.
107. Interview -- as a verb is spurious. "Our reporter interviewed President Grant yesterday." "A correspondent of the Herald has interviewed Count Bismark." Instead of interview say converse with, "have an interview with," or employ some of the many other expressions which are at command.

110. Lengthy -- is a barbarous combination of letters for which there is very little use. Webster suggests that its application be limited to writings, discourse, etc. There is certainly no need of it anywhere else. Say long.

115. Reliable -- is much condemned by critics. Trustworthy is its proper substitute, and is undubtedly a better word. Authentic also may often take its place....Many writers pronounce emphatically and very dogmatically against reliable. It has, however, obtained general currency with writers and speakers as well instructed in language as they, and will probably carry the day against them.
This second set of words is more familiar to us as poor word usage.
105. Experimentalize -- is improper and unnecessary. Say, "experiment, or make an experiment.

113. Preventative. -- Say preventive.

117. Rotatory. -- Say rotary.
To this list I would like to add pressurize when used to mean to pressure someone into doing something they would rather not do. I have heard and seen this a little too often for comfort. Wood and air are pressurized. People are pressured.

NOTE: I just looked up both words in the dictionary (The Random House Dictionary of the English Language. New York: Random House, 1966.) While my explanation is correct, the word pressurize appears under pressure as a synonym with no explanation as to its usage. Look up pressurize and it's there.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Pronominal Adjectives

I had never even heard the term "Pronominal Adjectives" until recently. Either we were never taught it in school, or I was absent that day. When I did finally come across it, I had to ask Craig what it was. He knew, of course :)

Here is the explanation from my most recent acquisition,The Elements of Grammar by Samuel S. Greene, A.M. Philadelphia: H. Cowperthwaite & Co., 1855.

Those limiting adjectives which may, without the use of the article, represent a noun when understood, are called pronominal adjective; as, "That (book) is his; this is yours."

The principal pronominal adjectives are, this, that, these, those, former, latter, which, what, each, every, either, neither, some, one, none, any, all, such, much, both, few, fewer, fewest, first last, little, less, least, many, more, most, own, some, several, sundry, enough.

The book goes on to give declensions of the words one and other. I didn't even know you could decline nouns or pronouns. You learn something every day.