BOOKENDS

 

Thomas Russell Wingate  

June 2013  

 

 

 

                   1

 

Etymology is the study of the generation of words and the matings of languages.

 

These often start on the wrong side of the blanket.

 

                   2

 

A writer who tries to be “with it” will end up without it.

 

To gain and deserve the lasting respect a writer should have, you must write by eye far more than you write by ear

 

                   3

 

From nucleus (noun, three syllables) we derive nuclear (adjective, three syllables).

 

Nu is not a prefix in English.

 

Clear, by itself, has one syllable.

 

Nuclear (with two syllables) has become allowable.

 

“Noo-kyu-lur” is ugly and out.

 

                   4

 

You can see from their spellings that idea (three syllables) does not rhyme with clear.

 

Many English words—Wednesday, laughter, gunwale, midwifery, sword, boatswain—are not pronounced as they are spelled. (When you were in school you complained about that.)

 

Most English words are spoken as spelled. That is what spelling is for: to keep etymology straight and pronunciation standard. That is why knave and naïve are different in print and in speech.

 

                   5

 

Accents, idioms, and vocabularies mark you, enable you, and hinder you.

 

Know better than to report on television that funds were dispersed. No, funds were disbursed.

 

Do not deploy words as you hear them. Why not? Ask yourself where they heard them.

 

The messenger was dispatched. The enemy soldier was despatched by a single shot.

 

                   6

 

He made it clear he did not get the idea.

 

          Office supply store. Clerk, American, age about twenty.

 

          TRW: “Where are bookends?”

 

          Clerk: “What are bookends?”

 

          TRW: “You don’t read much, do you?”

 

Clerk (without embarrassment): “No.” (After pause, in tone of astonishment): “How did you know?”

 

 

 

          NOTE

 

 

 

1 See Two Cultures on website.


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