This place matters

This place matters

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Your epidermis is showing

Proving that nuns, too, can have a sense of humor, Sr. Cheryl walked into class on the day we were to discuss the war of 1812 and announced she'd be teaching "the impressment of seamen and the non-intercourse act. A history teacher's worst nightmare."
Once, I was working at the head shop and playing with a slap bracelet (which I'm delighted to see are coming back), and a customer walks in and asks me "what, are you some kind of pseudo-masticist?" 
These, according to an article by DG Kehl, are examples of quasi maledictions: words that sound dirty but aren't.  According to the article, titled Quasi Malediction: The Case of Linguistic Malentendu, an aspiring senator once tricked voters by claiming that his opponent "is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert... Worst of all, it is an established fact that [my opponent] before his marriage habitually practiced celibacy." 
I would never practice celibacy, I'll tell you that much, kids.
I had never heard the word malediction before, by the way, and so naturally I had to find the etymology. It comes from the Latin mal, meaning bad, and dicere, meaning to say. To use maledictions, literally speaking, is to speak badly. Much like the guy who called me a pseudo-masticist. Quasi, by the by, comes from the Latin quasi, meaning as if. A quasar, on an only mostly unrelated note, is a celestial body that is like a star, but not a star. A quasi-star - the word is a portmanteau of quasi-stellar. And we all know how I love me some portmanteaus. 
A maltentendu, for those curious, is a misunderstanding. French, it would seem. The article I talk about here comes from a collection of articles from Verbatim, the Language Quarterly. All of these articles and essays use fancy big words unabashedly; I'm not proud to say that my usage skyrockets whenever I open this book. I know big words. I like big words. This book's big words could thoroughly trounce my big words on the playground and send them home crying for their mommies. Then again, I could technical-document those snooty intellectuals right under the table.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was trying to think of a good pun to throw in here, but the 4 hours of sleep is making that hard.