Monday, September 21, 2015

Wordplay from The New Yorker

I heard about this piece on NPR recently, and knew it was just the sort of thing I would enjoy. Maybe you would, too. It's called "How I Met My Wife", by Jack Winter. It was published in The New Yorker in July, 1994.

It's full of words that are correctly used with a negative prefix, minus the prefix, like "ruly" instead of "unruly" Some of them require a bit more thought than others to figure out. Some refer to a figure of speech.
I love this because these are just the sort of jokes and observations I find myself making all the time!
Just ask anyone that knows me well. I've been known to make remarks like these (these words taken from the article below):
"Why is it always 'nonchalant'? Does anyone walk about 'chalantly'?" or
"If you fold up a flag, would that be considered 'furling' it?" or
"If you can, in fact, understand something that seems tricky, would you say that you CAN make hide or hair of it?", or finally
"What does 'indefatigable' really mean?
If I can fatigue you, then I can tire you out. You are fatigable.
Then, if I can somehow energize you, then you would be defatigable.
But if this cannot be done (you can NOT be energized after being tired out) then you're indefatigable...which seems to mean the opposite of the actual meaning of the word.

Well, you're probably tired of this, so I'll just let you read the original:



SHOUTS AND MURMURS about man who describes meeting his wife at a party. In his description, he drops many prefixes. It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very chalant, despite my efforts to appear gruntled and consolate. I was furling my wieldy umbrella for the coat check when I saw her standing alone in a corner. She was a descript person, a woman in a state of total array. Her hair was kempt, her clothing shevelled, and she moved in a gainly way. I wanted desperately to meet her, but I knew I'd have to make bones about it, since I was travelling cognito. Beknownst to me, the hostess, whom I could see both hide and hair of, was very proper, so it would be skin off my nose if anything bad happened. And even though I had only swerving loyalty to her, my manners couldn't be peccable. Only toward and heard-of behavior would do. Fortunately, the embarrassment that my maculate appearance might cause was evitable. There were two ways about it, but the chances that someone as flappable as I would be ept enough to become persona grata or sung hero were slim. I was, after all, something to sneeze at, someone you could easily hold a candle to, someone who usually aroused bridled passion. So I decided not to rush it. But then, all at once, for some apparent reason, she looked in my direction and smiled in a way that I could make heads or tails of. So, after a terminable delay, I acted with mitigated gall and made my way through the ruly crowd with strong givings. Nevertheless, since this was all new hat to me and I had no time to prepare a promptu speech, I was petuous. She responded well, and I was mayed that she considered me a savory char- acter who was up to some good. She told me who she was. "What a perfect nomer," I said, advertently. The conversation became more and more choate, and we spoke at length to much avail. But I was defatigable, so I had to leave at a godly hour. I asked if she wanted to come with me. To my delight, she was committal. We left the party together and have been together ever since. I have given her my love, and she has requited it.

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