Sunday, December 16, 2007

there's nothing plötzlich about it

"Christmas always comes so suddenly"

This is the card I received from my German cousin last week. I was surprised to find that plötzlich means sudden. I didn't know the word and I assumed, based on the sound of it, that it would have something to do with plodding. That's the problem when you worship at the church of onomatopoeia. Things quite often to turn out to mean the opposite of what you had always assumed.

Need evidence of my moronic proclivities?

I always associated irascible with mischievous (perhaps because it sounds like rascal); turns out it means cantankerous.

I have on occasion used restive in place of calm. Naturally it means impatient.

I have used supercilious as a synonym for superficial, while the whole time actually means haughtily disdainful.

Don't even get me started on sonorous.

Sure hope Santa brings me a dictionary for Christmas. Obviously I could use one.

Do you have any words that you have been using incorrectly for years?

Do you have any favourite onomatopoeia? onomatopeias? onomatopoeum?


mellowlee said...

lol! Well that post made me smile, until you asked that question *g* I'm sure there are plenty of words I use incorrectly....I will let you know as soon as I figure that out ;O)

Toccata said...

It's not meanings so much as syllables. For years I used to say ridiculous with an extra syllable, ridiculious. I still have to think before I say it aloud. I often want to add an extra syllable into words. It's like I have some weird speech impediment.

phlegmfatale said...

...and it's all kinds of jacked-up that "reckless" people are most likely to have "wrecks" complexes.

Anonymous said...

i avoid those problems...never use words with more than 3 syallables

John Mutford said...

I've been using "bemused" as sort of the opposite of "amused," as in really unimpressed. Recently I found out it was more along the lines of "bewildered." Since we're on the subject of words, I've added "poignant" to my shitlist.

BeckEye said...

"Sure hope Santa brings me a dictionary for Christmas."


OK, that had me laughing uncontrollably because it reminded me of the Spongebob episode, "Christmas Who?" Sponge was trying to convince everyone that Santa was coming and Squidward got mad and said, "My wish is that the people of Bikini Bottom will stop paying any attention to the inane drivel that is constantly streaming out of this dunderhead's mouth!" Then Spongebob answers, "Gee Squidward, maybe Santa will bring me a dictionary so I can understand what you just said."

Boy, I love that little sponge.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm sure there are a whole bunch more words that I use incorrectly, that I don't even know about yet, Mel. I'm sure I will be made aware at the most embarassing moment possible.

Or maybe you are secretly British, Toccata. Let me hear you say aluminum. Hmm, but then they say medicine with less syllables, so that can't be it. Nope, I guess you are right - some sort of weird speech impediment.

Aha, homonyms! My favourite, Phlegmfatale! The world needs more homonyms.

I'm going to try to stick to two syllable ones from now on, Kelly. Possibly one.

Everybody likely thought you were just easily bewildered, John, so you probably pulled that one off just fine.
Why the hate on for "poignant"? It's a fine word.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Man, I have got to start watching Spongebob, Beckeye! I had no idea what I was missing, obviously. Been wasting my time on South Park.

dguzman said...

Oh Barbara--first time on your blog, and lovin' it already.

Nice post-I don't actually know if I use any words incorrectly. I don't think I do, but then I'm kind-of a snob because I majored in English, so I would probably be in denial anyway!

Now there are some words I've seen in print that didn't mean what I thought they should--like "nonplussed." Why does that mean "surprised and confused" instead of "NOT surprised and confused?" Seems like it should be a negative of something, but I guess no one says "I'm plussed" when they mean "I understand perfectly!" That one really gets on my nerves.

I also tend to have favorite big words that I try to use, like "fallacious" and "facetious" (I just like the sound of them).

Deb said...

I can't think of any offhand.

But this is kind of related as it's about me using incorrect words, by way of a hyphen.

I post on a football forum where the mods are imbeciles and stray off topic. One particular thread was being hijacked and they were trying to engage others in argument, me included. I decided to back away and just start a new thread at that point, to prove I was "above all of that" and to showcase my superior football knowledge.

So my new thread was about Wes Cates' contract renewal, which I entitled:


Well they had a bloody field day with that one.

Anyhow, did you just ask if I had a favorite opium?

Deb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deb said...

ha, how wv was ojrot. They forgot the in hell part.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Hi Dguzman, welcome! You make an excellent point about nonplussed. It's rather a silly word, isn't it? I wonder who should take the blame for that one?
I'm partial to the big disease names myself - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and such.

Ha, Deb! The beauty of the forgotten hyphen. I hope that you did not apologize, correct or explain. Because it's better when you leave them baffled.
Niiiiice wv. And so true.

JustRun said...

Ugh, I've had so many good comments but Blogger's "visual verification" has been jerking me around. Dumbasses.

Anyway, yes, German is tricky. Some words are so close to English while some are worlds apart. Like brother and sister, the words, not the people. Then again, maybe it's English that's tricky.

Gifted Typist said...

Oh, BB, I love your twisted take on things

I use the word Walthamstow for water and leibfraumilche for milk. They are such delicious words with so few opportunities for use that I have subverted them for my own pleasure. Now, even my kids answer to Walthamstow and leibfraumilche at suppertime.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha I do that all the time Barb, but due to my aging brain, I can't remember the words. Lately tho I find myself saying or hearing the word nucular and it sounds ok. Aaaak

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Bless you for not booting your computer out the window after all that Blogger jerking around, Justrun. English is a really weird language. Hell, we can't even agree on whether or not to throw a "u" in there.

"Liebfraumilche"! That's priceless, Gifted Typist! You sure know how to subvert your family. Do your kids know the literal translation of the word? Bet they wouldn't be so thrilled if they did.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh god help you Berni! Dubya has finally gotten to you! I do the same thing with a couple of words that Jer insists on mispronouncing, and I can't tell the difference anymore.

Splotchy said...

bilious means fluffy like a cloud, doesn't it?