During my years of teaching, I don’t believe I ever had students — even at the college level — who consistently spelled “a lot” as two words. To that I say, “’Alot’ of students can’t tell the difference.” I believe the bigger problem is simply using the wrong word. There are, after all, many synonyms for “a lot,” including “many” and “plenty.”
When was the last time you heard someone confuse “compose” and “comprise”? I’ll wager that most people who (mis)use “comprise” do so in a sentence like “The U.S. is comprised of 50 states.” No! The U.S. comprises 50 states, and not the other way around. The country is not comprised of anything.
Yet another form of verbal confusion is using “compromised “when we mean “comprised,” which has an entirely different meaning and takes us in a different direction. For example, when my wife says, “I took out the meat from the freezer to “unthaw it,” I have had to compromise my grammar-cop personality in order to remain married.
Similarly, people often confuse “condone” with “condemn” and come up with something like, “I condone your stealing the money,” when they mean they don’t approve of the theft.
Another word that has only recently come into our language has an unusual spelling and appears extremely difficult to pronounce. The clashing of certain consonants too often appears like trying to read a telephone book from the Czech Republic. And in case you’re one of the few people away from TV or a newspaper last week, here’s the word: “covfefe.”
The power of mass media and its tremendous effect on the language, using a word coined by our president, illustrates the fluidity of language. Most words have a discernible origin, which most dictionaries explain. Other words — often the result of a mispronunciation or a misunderstanding — have worked their way into the language, on the basis of what the object looks like, sounds like or does.
Let’s see how many ways we can parse the word.
But first, let me explain that The Donald obviously failed to proofread the message he was transmitting. It looks as if Trump overlooked a typo in writing “coffee” and forgot to go back and correct it.
According to multiple sources, on Facebook, Twitter and Messages, the word “covfefe” has been trending all week.
The presence of two Fs and two Es suggests Trump was referring to coffee. But there’s still much enjoyment in speculating on Trump’s intentions.
Here are some snippets submitted by people on the Internet:
My friend, Martin Sommerness, a journalism teacher at Northern Arizona University, says he loves the “smell of covfefe in the morning,” his assumption referring to a drinkable liquid. Trump’s new word doesn’t appear in any dictionaries — yet. And though coffee is a popular guess as to what the word is, there are other guesses.
One person asked, “What’s even the point of CNN if they’re not going commercial-free with covfefe coverage?”
As people search for the word Trump coined all by himself, the dictionary provides a host of words the editors believe may have been intended: “coven,” “cover,” “covet,” “covey” and “curee.” The name of the Golden State Warriors’ super hoopster, Steph Curry, might even join the list.
Some people suggest that if the definition of “covfefe” is so darned important, they should try a non-English dictionary, such as a Norwegian tome. But others have shot it back to the suggesters: “Nope, ‘covfefe’ isn’t a Norse word either.”
So, does that word with the awkward combination of fricative sounds have a future in English or any other language? I’m betting that, if we consider the source, we’ll soon come across “covfefe,” even if its widespread usage is intended as a criticism of the man who won the election by such a “yuge” margin.
Remember back in the ‘60s, when every teenage male dreamed of Liz Taylor and Debbie Reynolds? And giddy girls would imagine a lifetime with Richard Burton or Eddie Fisher?
What was the result of the widespread admiration teens heaped on those Hollywoodians? Well, one result was that millions of parents showed their admiration by naming their kids Debbie and Liz. These are, it must be stressed, acceptable names, but what if?
What if, in the near future, Trump fans choose to honor the multi-millionaire president by naming their offspring “Covfefe,” or some variation thereof?
People will be saying, “We think ‘covfefe’ is such a wonderful name, but several of our neighbors already named their boys and girls the same thing. So we’re calling our son ‘Covvy.’ We wanted to shorten the name of our other child, a girl, to ‘Fefe,’ but that was already taken.”