Monthly Archives: September 2014

Is jewlery alright?

Maybe it’s time to give up the struggle. My temptation is to say, “All right, all you people on loudspeakers in big box stores, and all of you behind a microphone: It’s alright to call it ‘jew-lery.”

It seems easier that way. We hear it on radio commercials: jew-lery; even jewelers, who make a living selling jewel-ry, still insist on putting the “l” in front of the “r.”

A language cop from way back, I’ve harped on the subject often. Strange that people seem to spell it right, even if they can’t pronounce it. The key element is “jewel.” So why is it so difficult to simply add “ry” to “jewel”?

We often pick up pronunciation through analogy, the letter combinations of other words. We say “celery” and “cutlery,” two words that might lead us to say “jew-lery.” But when do people use even these words except at a salad bar or kitchen? Continue reading

God created zucchini

When God created zucchini, was He was playing a monumental joke on humankind in giving us a bland, tasteless, mushy-feeling omni-present veggie?

I believe the creator hoped to watch our expressions as we attempt to down that slick food that’s so prolific it ought to be named “rabbit.” Someone should write a book and title it, “How to Stop Growing Zucchini and Rabbits.”

Last week, a friend offered me a pair of those mystery squashes. I was on my way to a Lobo football game just then and placed the zucchinis on the dashboard of my car as we headed for Albuquerque.

My friend and I left the squash on the dashboard, along with our two Lobo tickets, our admission to the game. We were at the entrance when we discovered our error and ran back to the car, parked in Lot No. 6721 or 6722 — I don’t exactly remember.

In the time that we were gone, someone broke into our car. We found that two more zucchinis and two more Lobo tickets had been placed inside our car. That should teach us to be more careful. Continue reading

Another ‘like’ column?

A number of years and columns ago, I promised I wouldn’t be writing any more on the overuse of “like.” But like a traitor to the cause, I’m preparing just one more, hoping that by being nauseatingly whining, I can help cure the problem.

However, before writing such a column, let me explain that in the past, I’ve written columns based on a single word: Once, I became fascinated by how a guide on AMTRAK ended every sentence with “so” as he narrated our trip through Indian Country in western New Mexico.

Another time I wrote an entire column on “la jura,” a term that refers to cops, but only when they’re on the move. And we’ve already exhausted all the uses of “sapo,” a Spanish word that describes a lucky shot, usually in basketball. And of course, I’ve picked on “ya know,” “I mean,” “let’s see,” and other words and expressions that serve only as fillers.

In previous columns I’ve asked readers for their opinion on whether terms like “conflate,” “irregardless” and “comprised of” have always been around, to be resurrected in the heat of political season, or whether these words have simply sprung up for the occasion. Continue reading

Is it OK to pray?

Remember those non-stop grammar lessons in school in which we’d spend long hours pondering whether a particular word was a verb or a noun?

Yes, Sister Grammatica Correcta would drill us on parts of speech; she would use every inch of chalkboard space to diagram sentences, and to be sure, give us enthusiastic students an opportunity to strut our stuff. What fun!

We had a particularly loud end-of-class bell that I prayed would ring. In that school, Immaculate Conception, it was OK to pray — in fact, it was encouraged and often required.

Around the time that the Supreme Court was taking prayers in public schools under consideration, there came a comic strip that showed Archie, Jughead, Veronica, Betty and other classmates on a school-sanctioned ski outing. Somehow, Jughead took a spill on the slopes and landed upside-down, minutes and inches from suffering real injury.

So Jughead got the attention of the sponsor-principal and hollered, “Has the Supreme Court ruled on Prayers in Public Schools?” The principal answered, “I don’t know, Judhead. Why do you ask?” Continue reading