The grammer police strike again!
May 21, 2006 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Why is electrical a word, but electronical isn't?

Should I feel bad about using a word with an implied meaning in everyday speech?

I got in an argument with a guy at work on Friday about the word. I was trying to tell a story about my trip to the hardware store and said the phrase: "the part in my hand looked electronical."

The technician then interrupted me with "that isn't a word!" And I then declared that it was a word because I just used it as a word and I'm pretty sure it is in the dictionary. He goes and looks it up and proclaims once again that it isn't in the dictionary and then goes about telling everyone how he corrected my grammer. I never got to the end of my story. I was pretty pissed off to say the least and called him a condesending ass.

The reason it burned me so much is because I am the electrnoics guy there. The person who corrected me knows nothing of engineering or things that are electrical in nature and is the technician that is there to support the engineers. I think him lashing out comes from the fact that he isn't a very smart fellow and is forced to be around 4 engineers all day every day. He saw an opportunity to patronize me, and took it.

Now, I am having a hard time getting over the entire situation. I don't care about the word being in the dictionary and I'm sure that we all use words that have not made it into the dictionary yet but still have an understood meanings.

How do I diffuse the situation on Monday? Right now my brain is telling me to let it go, but my gut is telling me that I need to be a total asshole to this guy and put him in his place. What do I do if he provokes me or eggs me on further? I hope that he would not, as I would be able to get him fired but I do not wish to do that over something so silly if you really think about it. But this guy talks crap to everyone and I know of at lest 1 other engineer who dislikes this tech's constant attitude.

Thank you for answering any of my questions.
posted by nickerbocker to Human Relations (58 answers total)
 
Electronical is a perfectly valid word, whether or not it is in the dictionary. If you want so spend time pursuing it, though, I suggest that you go to the library and look it up in the Oxford English Dictionary. There's a good chance the word is in there - it does have over a million Google results.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:51 AM on May 21, 2006


electric is to electrical as electron is to electronic. Both the latter are adjectives describing the former.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:51 AM on May 21, 2006


Get over it. You were wrong, and you don't like it for various complicated reasons, but there's nothing you can say that will make you right.
posted by smackfu at 8:54 AM on May 21, 2006


smackfu: I know I was wrong about the word being in the dictionary. I am sore about it, but big freaken deal!

Everyone knew what I was talking about, this guy was just waiting to correct me on something and it was really uncalled for.
posted by nickerbocker at 8:57 AM on May 21, 2006


SeizeTheDay: i don't think so.

saying "He built and electron circuit" sounds funny.

On the other hand:

"He built an electric circuit."
"He built an electrical circuit."
and
"He built an electronic circuit."

all sound good to me.
posted by nickerbocker at 9:01 AM on May 21, 2006


How I would defuse it is to use the word "electronical" in front of him, and then give him a grin when he starts to say something.
posted by smackfu at 9:02 AM on May 21, 2006


I would say 'electronical' is wrong (although I wouldn't correct you about it in real life). It's not in the full OED (dictionary.oed.com). By the way, don't show him this post - "diffuse", "grammer" and "condesending" are kind of asking for it...
posted by matthewr at 9:06 AM on May 21, 2006


If it is used 1.4 million times (according to Google), it is a real word. I don't care what the dictionary says. The dictionary is not the be all and end all of language -- speakers are.

The -al morpheme is interesting in English because sometimes it doesn't mean anything. E.g., the different between classic and classical is hair thin, if it is even there at all. I think it's a similar case with electronical.
posted by pealco at 9:11 AM on May 21, 2006


Electronical is a perfectly valid word, whether or not it is in the dictionary.

Why are you trying to answer this question when you don't have a clue? No, it's not a word, and there's no particular reason (why isn't snurk a word, or belastic?) except that electronic takes up the semantic space it would occupy, so there's no need for it. Bottom line: he was a jerk for interrupting you and making an issue of it; you're thinking of being an even bigger jerk because he upset you. Don't. It's really not worth it. Just make a joke of it, and maybe use "electronical" at every opportunity for a while just to watch him twitch.
posted by languagehat at 9:16 AM on May 21, 2006


On non-preview: the Google results are interesting, and suggest that a lot of people are using it, which means it may be on its way to acceptance, in which case it will be in future editions of the more comprehensive dictionaries as an alternate form. But there's no way to win an argument about whether something "is a word" unless you can point to it in a dictionary; simply saying "lots of people use it" won't get you anywhere. It's best, for practical purposes, to take "being in the dictionary" as a definition of word except for cutting-edge slang terms.
posted by languagehat at 9:19 AM on May 21, 2006


Recieve gets 18,600,000 Google hits. Does that make it a word?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:30 AM on May 21, 2006


Recieve is a typo, but electronical isn't.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:31 AM on May 21, 2006


Electronical is redundant, like truthfulness.
Electronic and truth do the job.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:33 AM on May 21, 2006


English major reporting for duty.

"Electric" and "Electrical" are pretty much the same thing, with a redundant suffix for the latter. Electronical is technically a word (by the actual definition of "word"), just not commonly used. Those who say it isn't a word need to look up "word" again.

It might be worth noting that a dictionary is not a book that says how words are to be used, it is a record of how words have been used in the past. It's practically the same sense that a newspaper does not dictate what should be happening -- newspapers report what has happened. A dictionary is only a list of words that people have used before, and accepted variations in spelling. English is made up of all sorts of made-up words derived from dozens of languages that come into common usage by frequent speaking of it and gradual acceptance, whereby dictionaries change entries to include new current uses. The populace doesn't adapt to dictionaries, dictionaries adapt to the populace.
posted by vanoakenfold at 9:36 AM on May 21, 2006


Right now my brain is telling me to let it go, but my gut is telling me that I need to be a total asshole to this guy and put him in his place.

Listen to your brain.

What do I do if he provokes me or eggs me on further?

Ignore him. Be the beter man.

I hope that he would not, as I would be able to get him fired but I do not wish to do that over something so silly if you really think about it.

Yes. You would not want to screw with a man's livelihood in this economy over something so incredibly petty.
posted by WCityMike at 9:37 AM on May 21, 2006


"Recieve" is very much a word. (Un/)Acceptable forms of spelling a word does not limit whether a word is a word.
posted by vanoakenfold at 9:40 AM on May 21, 2006


Languagehat: I disgree with your suggestion that the dictionary be the standard for wordness (not in the dictionary).

From your academic training, I'm sure you know that because of morphological combinatronics, the number of possible words is endless. The dictionary cannot account for every possibility. Further, the definition of what a word is is fuzzy at best, so arguing about whether a word is "real" or not is pointless.

Instead, what I think is more important is whether the speaker's intended meaning was properly communicated. When nickerbocker uttered "electronical", I'm sure there wasn't much confusion on his co-worker's part as to what he was talking about. The question of whether it is a word or not is moot.
posted by pealco at 9:44 AM on May 21, 2006


If I used the word squiptipadoogleboinkaflop (a word I have designed to describe an error in judgment when assuming that whether a word is found in a dictionary consitutes it as a word or not -- the gentleman who corrected you squiptipadoogleboinkaflopped) often enough, and it came into popular usage, dictionaries would eventually include it. Eytmology books, or word origin references, often cite merely one source of popular or published media that the word once appeared in as evidence for it being used at some time by someone, whether it is in popular usage now or ever was. Going by this, the fact that I have used it here (and defined it, particularly) permits future etymological references to include it as a valid word. Take that.
posted by vanoakenfold at 9:47 AM on May 21, 2006


High five, vanoakenfold.
posted by pealco at 9:50 AM on May 21, 2006


You can think of this outside the rules of grammar and the evolution of language. Whether or not you were correct, the best thing to do is to just let it go. If he brings it up again, go with laughing it off. It's just not worth it to debate the matter with this fellow.

And in the future, I would make the suggestion that it is helpful to refrain from calling people names (like ass or similar), because doing so does sometimes make a slightly tense situation a more volatile, angry one.
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 9:57 AM on May 21, 2006


Instead, what I think is more important is whether the speaker's intended meaning was properly communicated. When nickerbocker uttered "electronical", I'm sure there wasn't much confusion on his co-worker's part as to what he was talking about.

That is what I was trying to point out in the moment. Everyone knew what I was talking about, and I communicated the subject just fine. This guy was just trying to make me look like an idiot. The fact that he made me upset and yell curses at him means that I did in fact look like an idiot in the end.

I think I should be satisified that by calling him a stupid name that I got him back for making a stupid interrupting comment and leave it at that. Monday morning pretend like nothing happened and go about my work as I would any other day.

I've butted heads with this guy before... he takes things really personal and last time I called him a name he wouldn't talk to me for a week. I think this may happen again.
posted by nickerbocker at 9:58 AM on May 21, 2006


electronical.com - what you need, when you need it.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:58 AM on May 21, 2006


Short answer: electronic is already an adjective. (I know that hasn't stopped us in the past, but still.)
posted by danb at 10:02 AM on May 21, 2006


I incidentally googled my squiptipadoogleboinkaflop creation, and found remnants of an old Wikipedia article for it I had created quite some time ago but got subsequently removed by editors, and somehow it had been picked up by other online dictionaries, from the full wiki article I wrote. ^5 back, pealco ;-DDD
posted by vanoakenfold at 10:04 AM on May 21, 2006


As others have said, the "it's not a word" objection is wrong. It's a word if it's a word, it doesn't require an authority like a dictionary to validate it. I whole-heartedly support neologisms.

However, as languagehat points out, electronical doesn't answer a need that another word, like electronic, cannot. I don't support neologisms when they are almost or completely unnecessary.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:24 AM on May 21, 2006


nickerbocker, I think you can safely say that electronical is an acceptable grammar formation because our language already is fine with putting redundant suffixes on a word. I give you "historical". What's that supposed to mean "of or pertaining to things that are of or pertaining to history?" You can legitimately say "it was an historical reenactment of an historic moment."

So, English has got some pretty goofy qualities (if you were in academia you'd see people coining new words, neologisms, if you will, all the time by throwing a suffix on some otherwise abstract noun. It's downright problematic! Or even problematical!).

As for your work issues, I know some close friends who have themselves been fired because they couldn't control themselves from having long-running insult battles with coworkers. This could blow up in your face, too. So, just take a deep breath and laugh it off.

On preview - I see EB beat me to neologistic territory, but I must disagree with the suffix contention which I have already covered. Redundant suffixes are part of the language, unfortunately.
posted by Slothrop at 10:36 AM on May 21, 2006


Electronical is redundant, like truthfulness.
Electronic and truth do the job.


How does truthfulness map to truth, exactly? I can most certainly doubt someone's truthfulness, but I couldn't in the same sense doubt their truth; and of course one is rarely said to be "telling the truthfulness".

Seems like it's not redundant at all, but serving a seperate meaning.
posted by cortex at 10:37 AM on May 21, 2006


"Recieve" is very much a word. (Un/)Acceptable forms of spelling a word does not limit whether a word is a word.

Sure, but the funtion of langage is to convay meening, and if u aksept aniting az u wurd, eventulli th se;nz f wht uzayyyg fzittzlk feiopp zies qrzlp. Wzihh?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:38 AM on May 21, 2006


Electronical is a perfectly cromulent word.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:41 AM on May 21, 2006


Sure, but the funtion of langage is to convay meening, and if u aksept aniting az u wurd, eventulli th se;nz f wht uzayyyg fzittzlk feiopp zies qrzlp. Wzihh?

Yuae, beawrgh angjgwth 6 12 ajehrjal 26 saetheth.

Whether or not anyone else understands it, a word is simply, in its most basic sense, a symbol or sound or representation of something, regardless of character set, widespread acceptance, or even interpretability by any given party except the one to whom it accurately portrays it, regardless of whether it conveys anything to someone else. If I were to say "a" is a word, which in English it is, Xaxxon on planet JJJJJJJJJq 3 may might not recognize it as a word within his/her/its ability to even pronounce "a" or even formulate an imaginary conceptual perceivance in its mind, but the fact that I've said it is and means something to me, makes it a word.
posted by vanoakenfold at 10:52 AM on May 21, 2006


FFF beat me to it. That's how you should have responded. A tacit admission of fault with self-deprecation.

And for god's sake don't bring it up again, unless you enjoy self-flagellation.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:53 AM on May 21, 2006


First of all truthfulness isn't redundant because "true" and "truthful" have different meanings.

Secondly "electronical" Isn't a "real word", any more then you can argue that any random string of syllables is a real word. Could it be a neologism? I suppose, but if any mistakes can be made then it is a mistake. If you want to get into an epistemological debate with your co-worker over the definition of 'word' I suppose you could.

And frankly it just, sounds dumb to me, but just be confident in knowing your co-worker was a total dick, which is worse then making a mistake :P

Also, "electronically" is a word I guess that was the only way to make 'electronic' sound good as an adverb, but 'electronic' is an adjective and 'electronical' would be an adjective and so totally unnecessary.

"Electric" and "Electronic" really have different meanings in the English language these days. It seems like Electric means a much simpler type of circuit, like a light bulb or something, while electronic usually means a complex digital or analog device.

"Electric" comes from the Greek word for amber "elektron" (amber builds up a static charge when you rub it), while "electronic" comes from the English word "electron" (which sounds the same, but has a totally different meaning) meaning the charged particle.
posted by delmoi at 11:12 AM on May 21, 2006


[a few comments removed. please take "who is or is not an asshole" comments to metatalk or email]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:33 AM on May 21, 2006


Ironical is a real in-the-dictionary word, and means the same thing as ironic. I still think it's dumb, though.
posted by zsazsa at 11:41 AM on May 21, 2006


in regards to the page title, its "grammar" not "grammer." (sorry, had to)
posted by atom128 at 11:55 AM on May 21, 2006


I think him lashing out comes from the fact that he isn't a very smart fellow and is forced to be around 4 engineers all day every day.

Maybe he lashed out because his co-workers think he isn't very smart. If you routinely treat him like you think he's stupid, then you are in the wrong here.

It doesn't matter whether or not you're right. Obviously that's a matter for debate, just from the discussion here. What matters is maintaining a professional relationship with somebody you work with every day.
posted by joannemerriam at 12:09 PM on May 21, 2006


To deal with this situation, I believe you should think like Machiavelli, but act like St. Francis. This guy clearly feels put down and undervalued at work. You, nickerbocker, are clearly in a position to step on the back of his head and grind his face in the dirt, and your fellow engineers might well cheer you on.

How about finding a way to use this incident to give him some status, instead? Youv'e made some mistakes in spelling in your question and your responses; perhaps you may occasionally do something similar in whatever written materials you must produce on the job (I find your overall use of language expressive and enviably strong, by the way). Could you possibly find an excuse to write something and make a gruff remark to the effect of "since you got so excited about 'electronical' maybe you'd like to look this over and tell me what I did wrong now"? By doing that, or the like, you would not only give him something he wants so badly he's willing to jeopardize his job for it, you would establish yourself as someone of such unshakably high status you can afford to joke about your mistakes. You would also establish yourself as someone who is in a position to hand out praise, and there is nothing more high status than that.
posted by jamjam at 12:18 PM on May 21, 2006


This thread is very metafilterish and metafilterific.
posted by camworld at 12:44 PM on May 21, 2006


You should definitely orientate yourself to utilize some proactive preventative preplanning, or this eventuality will repetify.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:57 PM on May 21, 2006


"Electric" and "Electronic" really have different meanings in the English language these days. It seems like Electric means a much simpler type of circuit, like a light bulb or something, while electronic usually means a complex digital or analog device.

Electronic implies the presence of active components, which almost always means semiconductors (tubes are active, and are considered electronics). Other components in an electric or electronic circuit are passive (well, they have the property passive, but they are collectively passives, even though you rarely say actives).

Note that wikipedia indicates that the difference between passive and active components is the latter's need of a power source to function, which would make diodes passive. However, there are other definitions in use.

Sometimes the distinction is drawn between components which have a linear (passive) or non-linear (active) response. I believe that in this usage passive is usually implied, a component is either active or other. This is complicated because a certain class of integrated circuits are classified as linear - the most well known being an op-amp. These are active components, they can not be passive by any criteria, they require a power supply and they contain non-linear components.

There is one final distinction between active and passive I've encountered. Active circuits are sometimes seen as the source of oscillation. Which is to say, rather than just being excited by an incoming frequency, an active circuit creates it's own frequency. By some definition this requires the presence of an oscillator, but it is interesting to note that any non-linear component will inherently generate frequencies different from the excitation frequency - these are called harmonics.

Now if we want to really start getting circular.. Linear sometimes refers to a certain class of power supply which uses linear regulators (in this case linear in the same sense as an op-amp). The only other class I can think of is switch-mode.

How do you properly use italics to single out a word when you are talking about its definition?

Oh ya, Electronical.. It sounds very very wrong!
posted by Chuckles at 1:15 PM on May 21, 2006


Irrespective of whether it is in some sense a word, "electronical" is a very bad word choice. Appending extra suffixes to words is a classic "I'm not very smart/knowledgeable but am trying to sound as if I were" thing to do. I've heard people mention rendezvous-tations and how they'd observated something, and so on. So something to avoid, especially since your job centers on technical competence.

Would you say that something looked electronicalish? Electronical is from the same planet -- that planet that abortions like "impactfulness" come from. The better word choice is simply "electronic," because that's the one that doesn't make you look foolish or ignorant.

This would be very different if your defense had been "Electronical is a very specific term that means something different from `electronic'" or had otherwise implied that "electronical" were an actual term-of-art commonly used in electronics. Then I would look ignorant and foolish for not knowing that. But you didn't say that.

That doesn't make your co-worker less of a prig. Dealing with the dude:

Do you have HR? If you do, talk to HR and explain that you're tired of being talked down to by Mr. Technician and that he should be more respectful or polite to the people he works for.

If you don't, it's probably time for you and some other people to collectively explain that you don't care to have your word-choices corrected by him, and that his job in part depends on how well he interacts with you and the other people he works for.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:20 PM on May 21, 2006


As someone who often inadvertently mangles words, but conveys meaning perfectly well despite the mangling, I've had to deal with this situation occasionally. A quick admission of guilt over the misuse in conjunction with dismissal of the importance of the misuse usually works. Something like a very quick, "Ok, sure you're right, but what I am saying is...". Or, if there is doubt in your mind over the legitimacy of the claim, "You may be right, but, what I am saying is..." And get back to the topic at hand. The fellow managed to derail the story with your help. As the silly old saying goes, it takes two to fight. Much better to acknowledge and move on quickly than to get bogged down in a I'm right, you're wrong fight over small stuff.

As far as what to do on Monday. Say hi act polite. Really, honestly let it go. If he keeps making it an issue, something like, "Ok you where right, I used the wrong word. Can we stop now please?", if he doesn't. talk to the supervisor, accept some of the blame, but stress you want to move on but he is being harassing.
posted by edgeways at 1:31 PM on May 21, 2006


"the part in my hand looked electronical."

Hmm.. In the context of what ROU_Xenophobe is saying, this might have been reasonably. You could have been saying that the part looked either electrical or electronic, that you didn't know or care which. Saying electronical in an ironic way could convey exactly that idea.
posted by Chuckles at 1:56 PM on May 21, 2006


reasonablye
posted by Chuckles at 1:57 PM on May 21, 2006


Electronical is not a word for the same reason that ironical and psychical are not words, they sound dumb.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:58 PM on May 21, 2006


Staying away from the "is it a word/what is a word" discussion altogether -- clearly it's a word that makes sense, which is why your brain came up with it at the time.

Someone on TV was talking about a coronation recently and said "after the king was coronated". Given a moment to think they would of course have realised the word they wanted is "crowned", but just as clearly it makes sense that at a [something]ation, someone is being [something]ed.

Whether or not the word is in a dictionary, and whatever that means, "electronical" is that kind of word. A word that follows the rules in a mental model of grammar. So is "electronicness", or "electriconicality" or "electronification".

However, that isn't your problem. Your problem is that you care so much about this minor thing, and that the other guy cares so much about getting an opportunity to laugh at you. There's clearly some very important status issue going on in your workplace relationship with that guy and this is the San Andreas Fault of that relationship.

In any normal relationship, you should have both had a quick laugh, you would have said "Oops yeah maybe that isn't a word" and everything continued as before. Clearly, this is not a normal relationship.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:26 PM on May 21, 2006


ok, kirth gerson is my hero for today.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 3:00 PM on May 21, 2006


doctor_negative, as I said above, ironical is most definitely a word. Yes, it is a rare and awkward variant of ironic, but it's in the dictionary and is legal in Scrabble, for instance. OED's first example of use for it is from 1576.
posted by zsazsa at 3:50 PM on May 21, 2006


I love the word "electronical" and have used it for entertainment for years. I also insisted on using the word "wiln't" as a kid instead of "won't." Still makes since to me. My friends and I also love adding suffixes to every adjective we can, e.g. "That was all kinds of horribleness."

Words exists so long as people understand them. New words make life fun. And meaningful.


Wordsmithery. Do it.
posted by trinarian at 4:32 PM on May 21, 2006


Ur frender haz uh choyce. Hee kann uhdmit tat electronical iz uh wurdthing ore uhdmit tat hee understooded wut thiss sez withoutte uzing wurdthingz.

In which case, what ARE you going to call all those things written above this sentence?

That said, being a jerk to a jerk won't get you anywhere. Tell him you over-reacted and are occasionally insecure about spoken Engligh, and that you should both try being adults to one another.
posted by ontic at 8:09 PM on May 21, 2006


When I'm speaking with friends, I'll often make up new words (based on well understood old words, but with inappropriate pre or suffixes), I'm not attached to any of these words, it's a bit of fun. If anyone wanted to challenge my use of one of these words I'd think they were being obtuseful, but I wouldn't throw a fit about it. I've even sometimes used words which I thought I was using correctly, and which made sense to me, but which I was wrong about. This is embarrassing for me, just like you were embarassed about electronical. I think it's a great word, but I certainly wouldn't ever have thought it was a 'real' word. Being embarassed is one thing, going so far as to start talking about how incredibly important you are, and how this guy is nothing, and you can have him fired? That makes you look like a complete loser, so drop that stuff.

Moving forward, I suggest you use electronical whenever you feel like it, but not with malice. Just because you like the word. Use it in future just as you've used it in the past.

I also suggest that you write your word into the office dictionary, I'm sure there are some blank pages in there somewhere. Don't be a dick about it though, and don't try to draw attention to it, just do it in such a way as it might be noticed some time when someone looks something up. They'll think you're awesome. (Draw attention to it and they'll think you're an idiot.)

Really though, leave the dude alone. He was right after all, and he's so stupid, and you're so smart. So I'm sure it's never ever happened before, and won't ever happen again. So let him enjoy it.
posted by The Monkey at 9:05 PM on May 21, 2006


Oh, one more thing... Part of your question:
Should I feel bad about using a word with an implied meaning in everyday speech?

Absolutely not. It's all fun, if people understood (and there's no way a reasonable person wouldn't understand a word like electronical) then it's fine.

If it was important business communication, and your bad word choice was obfuscating something important, that'd be another matter, but it clearly wasn't and it clearly doesn't, so keep it up.
posted by The Monkey at 9:07 PM on May 21, 2006


It is a word. It is a word used by morons when a better word would suffice. Apologize to your co-worker for being a moron, and thus abandon the circle of pricks.
posted by klangklangston at 11:42 AM on May 22, 2006


As my husband so astutely pointed out just recently: All words are made up.

I like languagehat's idea of using "electronical" all the time. Passive agressive dickheadedness usually makes me feel good without causing any real confrontation in these types of situations.
posted by frecklefaerie at 11:54 AM on May 22, 2006


"All words are made up."

Yes, in the same sense that every product is "all natural," even when made of processed uranium and petrochemicals. But for those who do not have a goal of representing themselves as idiots, electronical is a poor choice of words.
posted by klangklangston at 12:27 PM on May 22, 2006


"Yes, in the same sense that every product is 'all natural,' even when made of processed uranium and petrochemicals. But for those who do not have a goal of representing themselves as idiots, electronical is a poor choice of words."

Almost no one takes me for an idiot when I use a neologism of my own. That's because I'm not an idiot. A few people aren't smart enough to tell the difference, but screw 'em. There is nothing wrong with making up a new word if you have a large enough vocabulary to justify the need. The only people who look like idiots when they neologize are idiots.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:25 PM on May 22, 2006


In that AskMe is not the place, and that I generally like you, I'll leave aside the siren's call of a snarky response. What I will say is that being known as an idiot is one of those things that is based on available evidence. If I hear someone consistently use "orientate" in a non-ironic manner, I their place on the continuum moves closer to moron. Further, the telling clause in your reply is "if you have a large enough vocabulary to justify the need." There is no need for "electronical" without it being part of a punchline.
posted by klangklangston at 6:02 PM on May 22, 2006


What I will say is that being known as an idiot is one of those things that is based on available evidence.

Which is to say, based on your individual perception of the available evidence. You're drawing a conclusion about someone with different word choices than you, about whose language-acquisition background you know presumably little or nothing. Do what you like, but leave me out of it—I draw the idiot line nearly orthogonal to word choice and vocab.

I've certainly known plenty of idiots with polished vocabularies and smart, bright people without. I've acquired non-standard usages, on my own and through folks I associate with—does that make me an idiot? I'd say it makes me a typical language user.
posted by cortex at 6:18 PM on May 22, 2006


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