Monthly Archives: June 2007

At this particular point in time

Last week’s column sent a couple of acquaintances to the dictionary to keep me honest; I’d used the word “sublime” as a verb, in the context of causing a solid to convert to a vapor, and back again, with the application of heat.

Granted, to sublime something is not an expression one hears every day, except in laboratories. Nevertheless, these friends, who at first challenged my use of the word, managed to work it into a later conversation. But their tone indicated disdain, as if to say, “Yeah, sure, you think you’ve coined a word and expect us to fall for it,” rather than “Gee, I never thought of that.”

One of them then brought up her pet peeve, namely gluing “-ize” to words that shouldn’t have such attachments. For example, it’s acceptable, and even efficient, to choose “hospitalize” in place of “admit to the hospital,” or “politicize” in place of “inject politics into.” These terms are fine, and we have many of them. But why utilize “utilize” when we should use “use”?

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How many ounces did you lose?

A simple question from my daughter-in-law Heather caused a bit of confusion, and when I’m confused, I dream up ideas for a column.

Here’s what happened: Heather, my son Benji and I went to the Las Vegas Recreation Center for a workout. I pulled out three water bottles from the trunk, one for each. After our workout, Heather asked, as I stood perspiring on the scale, “How many ounces did you lose?? It occurred to me the question was perfectly ambiguous, even triguous. Did she mean how many ounces of water did I sweat, or how many ounces of weight did I shed, or even how many ounces of bottled water did I spill? In my case, finding those ounces occurs easier than losing them.

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Well, nobody’s perfect

Why are siblings so mean? Why such perfectionists? Why can’t my slightly older sister allow me to wallow in variations of my own distortions?

Let me explain:

Last week my column covered the pluralizing of surnames, pointing out that many people believe all they need to do is insert an apostrophe before an “s” and the job is done. Accordingly, it’s proper to report that the Trujillos (no apostrophe) took a day trip last week to Mountainair and Gran Quivira Monument.
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