The oddliness of languagistics


You might not have guessed it, but being in the newspaper business, we live and die by the words we choose.

Sometimes, we can inspire and create pictures with our writing, and other times we can be on par with Lil Abner or Paw Rugg (do a YouTube search), coming off as either uneducated or unintelligible.

It’s not so much the spelling, or at least it shouldn’t be, since most everything is done on computer, and even the chintziest word processor will let you know if you’ve erred in the spelling. Word even question grammar choices.

It’s the advent of words where we’ve added prefixes and suffixes and a host of other fixes to try to get our point across, or to sound knowledgeable about whatever subject we’re eloquently waxing about.

So occasionally, I like to point out some of the more egregious examples of word mangling. We all can blame the internet for this.


I was listening to talk radio, which I do a lot while driving the two-plus hours a day that I do, and a former ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, was talking about the successes of law enforcement in stopping terrorists before their plans could operationalize.

So the FBI’s efforts at unoperationalization were successful.

•Hot water heater.

Everybody is pretty much guilty of this one. We’ve all said it at one time or another, about having to replace the darn hot water heater because it flooded the house in the middle of the night.

So, silly question: Why do you need to heat hot water?


This is another example of creating a new type of word by adding an ize suffix. “Muhammad Ali was eulogized by Billy Crystal in a touching and funny way.”

Maybe I’m old, but it just doesn’t sound right.


As in, “Did you buy this recently?” “No, it was boughten years ago by my grandfather.”


Probably one of the most misused and wrong words ever. It’s self-canceling; ir means not, but regardless means without paying attention to the current situation, so you’re not going to do whatever without paying attention … I’ve got to sit down.

Just drop the ir. Everyone will like it. Irregardless.


To unthaw is to do the opposite of thaw, which I guess is to chill, which already has happened, so you really just leave the meat in the freezer and go out to eat.


The bane of W. Inevitably mispronounced as “nuke-u-ler,” when it’s said, “new-clee-er.”

I’m sure most of you have heard other zingers or have your own pet peeves when it comes to language; send them to me. We’ll reinvestigatize unpronounciations for printation.