Vernaculata, Goddess of the Vernacular of the Peasantry, is at it again, keeping me awake at night pondering the weirdness of the English language. And it is weird; weird enough to make the savviest of editors (that would be me) tear her hair out at times, trying to figure out what is—and what isn’t—a word. For example:
- If coffeepot and coffeemaker are compound words, why are coffee grinder and coffee shop each two words?
- Has anybody ever really used the word “antidisestablishmentarianism” in a sentence? (This sentence doesn’t count.)
Why are German Shepherd dog and Chihuahua supposed to be capitalized, but golden retriever and poodle lower cased? Yeah, yeah, I know … Chihahua is a Mexican state, and Germany is a real place, thus the proper noun. But why not German shepherd, lower case “s”?
- Along the same lines, why must I remember to capitalize Scotch, but not bourbon? If it weren’t only eight o’clock in the morning, I might go pour myself a stiff bourbon to ponder that one.
- How did “ginormous” become a real word? It appeared on the scene about twenty years ago, a cute mish-mash of words little kids said. Now it’s in Webster’s.
If ginormous made it into the dictionary, I want the word I made up yesterday to be there, too. “Embezzle.” Not steal money, not that embezzle. Mine means “to attach shiny things to your old purses or shoes to make them look new and sparkly and, preferably, bubble gum pink.” Embellish + Bedazzle = Embezzle. Makes perfect sense to me. Who do I contact at Webster’s to get it included in the next edition?
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