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Words, Dec.17 

Plain speaking:

I had occasion recently to look for information on a former Louisiana congressman. The Yahoo search engine suggested several sources. This was one of the listings:

“Billy Tauzin — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia … Wilbert Joseph Tauzin, II, usually known as Billy Tauzin, American lobbyist, crook and politician of Cajun descent, was aka a Cajun cook and is President and CEO of PhRMA … “

 

“Embryonic stem cells see ban fall.” And went out for drinks afterward.

 

Les Manville of Jacksonville writes: “If worst comes to worst. We write it that way and say it that way. But shouldn't it really be If worse comes to worst?” Logically, yes. But, rather like those embryonic stem cells, sometimes the language sees logic fall. Worst to worst is too well entrenched to be rooted out now. As to how it became entrenched, I don't know. People say the darndest things.

 

When will they ever learn?

Gene Saugey has the floor. “Every time I hear ‘short-lived' on the TV or radio they always use a short ‘i' (as in ‘give'). This is nonsense because ‘lived' pronounced that way is a past-tense verb, and ‘short' is an adjective, which cannot modify a verb. It should be a long ‘i' (as in ‘hive'). If something has a short life, it is ‘short-lifed,' but the ‘f' is softened to a ‘v' (just as the plural of life is ‘lives,' not ‘lifes'). Please get the word out that it is ‘short-LYVED,' not ‘short-LIVVED.' “

We're looking at you, Katie Couric.

 

“Christine Lindberg, a lexicographer, announced that the New Oxford American Dictionary's 2009 Word of the Year is ‘unfriend,' which means ‘to remove someone as a friend on a social-networking Web site' ” …  Not that I loiter around social-networking Web sites, but I like the sound of defriend better. It reminds me of defrock, and it rhymes with befriend. “The governor befriended the prisoner by turning him loose, but defriended him after four policemen were killed.”  

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