By Mike Redmond
The Hendricks County Flyer
Wed Mar 06, 2013, 04:31 PM EST
Hello, friends, and welcome to another in our ongoing visits with the world's most pedantic superhero, Captain Word Guy.
Captain Word Guy, what's on your mind today?
You mean when prices for goods and services rise while purchasing power falls?
No. I'm talking about Word Inflation - the practice of misusing a word, either by misunderstanding or misapplication, until its meaning is changed, obscured, or lost altogether. For the other one you need to talk to Captain Economics Guy.
Well, aren't you just a ray of sunshine.
Captain Weather Guy.
Anyhoo, tell us more about Word Inflation. Why are you thinking about it?
I saw a post on Faceplace in which the writer described something as "penultimate," as in "this is the penultimate example of an American family."
What's wrong with that?
Simple. It's incorrect. He or she meant "ultimate."
But what if the family was better than ultimate?
There's no such thing. Ultimate is ultimate. You can't go beyond infinity and there's nothing after ultimate. But I often see people using "penultimate" as a way of saying even more ultimate than the regular ultimate.
Isn't that what it means?
Nope. It means "next to last." Therefore, according to the post, the family mentioned is the next to last example of American families. Which is not what the writer intended.
And this is inflation?
Yes. It grows from what I call the Superstar Phenomenon. Once upon a time, when some boob decided "star" was not enough word for certain celebrities, the word "superstar" came into use to define a stratum of stardom achieved by only a few. Then word inflation kicked in. Buffoonery ensued and soon everyone who ever stood in front of a camera or hollered into a microphone was called a superstar.
So then there came a time when people had to build another stratum to define the superstars who were greater than the garden-variety superstars, and soon we were being overrun with divas and icons. It's madness, I tell you. Madness.
You worry too much.
Do I? Open your ears. How many times in a year do you hear the word "irregardless?" There's no such thing. It's either "regardless" or "irrespective." Choose one and move along, please.
Dozens, but I'll stick with this one for now: How many times have you begun a sentence with "Hopefully" when what you really mean to say is "I hope."
Huh? What's wrong with "hopefully"?
Nothing if you use it correctly, as in: "Please free me," the prisoner said, looking hopefully at the parole board. But the modern use of hopefully as a way of saying "I hope" has been approved by a number of dictionaries. It's common usage now. Which is why I am not always hopeful for the English language.
Well, we're coming close to the end of our allotted real estate on the time-space continuum, Colonel Word Superstar Icon Guy, and I'd like to thank you for a most illuminating discussion on a subject that bores me to tears.
Oh, please. You're lucky Captain Trigonometry Person isn't here.
We'll have to bring him along sometime. I'm sure it would make for a very unique discussion.
Ack. You can't modify "unique" in that way. Unique means "one of a kind." Something can't be very one of a kind.
Is that your penultimate pet peeve?
I give up.
© 2013 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
I am writing this letter to thank and to acknowledge the great and swift job that the Wayne Township Fire Department did, as well as the ambulance, in responding to a medical emergency in our household on May 15.
May 23, 2013
It is worth mentioning that more Americans were killed by the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last Sept. 11, than were killed by the recent terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon.
I hate dog movies. In dog movies, the good, loyal, lovable dog always dies at the end and I end up sitting there in the dark with big tears streaming down my cheeks.
May 21, 2013
Mr. President, the buck stops with you.
President Truman set that standard, with these very words posted on a sign on his Oval Office desk.
But now, with over a thousand days left in this second Obama administration, we find a Nixonian stench emerging from the “W. House.”
Rarely has the White House briefing room so resembled the main ballroom at a meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference.
I’ve not kept it a secret that I find people who dress their dogs in clothes to be, to put it nicely, somewhat more than just eccentric. And many friendly, helpful readers out there have not kept it a secret that they really wish I would not express my views about dogs dressed as humans.
May 17, 2013
Distrust of government secrecy has been elevated to an exceptional level with the disclosure the Justice Department covertly examined two months of Associated Press phone records to determine who leaked details to the AP about a foiled terrorist plot.
The federal government recently announced new regulations for buying fast food.
It sounds like the plot from a dystopian libertarian novel. The word “patriot” and the phrase “educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights” triggered heightened scrutiny from the most intrusive agency in the federal government.
The action at the bird feeder has been spectacular lately: Cardinals, finches, songbirds in impressive variety crowding around all day long in search of sustenance. It is truly gratifying …
For my neighbor.
That’s what it’s like at his feeder.
May 14, 2013
An NPR broadcast examines the question of how communities can better prepare for tornadoes like the one that struck Moore, Okla. on Monday. The broadcast features commentary from Michael Fitzgerald, who reported a five-part disaster series for the CNHI News Service.
May 22, 2013
Part I: Are We Prepared? | Part II: Disaster Dollars Part III: Lessons Learned | Part IV: Warning Signs Part V: The Big One
Twitter is adding a new security tool to its website, making it harder for outsiders to gain access to accounts, a month after a false posting triggered a stock-market decline.
May 23, 2013
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