Favorite

Words March 16 

 “But no matter which version of Indian history California adopts for its 6th graders, it is bound to aggravate someone. The Board of Education has already heard from South Indians who argued that the HEF and Vedic Foundation represent a North Indian upper-caste perspective.”
I’ve known people who insisted that aggravate has one meaning — “to make worse” — and that using it to mean “annoy,” as in the example above, is incorrect. The authorities don’t support them. Random House, for example, says:
“Both senses first appeared in the early 17th century at almost the same time; the corresponding two senses of the noun aggravation also appeared then. Both senses of aggravate and aggravation have been standard since then. The use of aggravate to mean ‘annoy’ is sometimes objected to because it departs from the etymological meaning ‘to make heavier,’ and in formal speech and writing the sense ‘annoy’ is somewhat less frequent than ‘to make worse.’ The noun aggravation meaning ‘annoyance’ occurs in all types of speech and writing.”

 Seeing the headline “Heifer urges workers to ‘cow-mute,’ ” I thought that Heifer International, the philanthropic organization, was asking its employees to mute their cows, possibly with some device specially made for the purpose, like a trumpet mute. Heifer provides livestock to needy families in 50 countries. All those animals mraw-ing at the same time would make quite a racket, I suppose. But it turned out the article was not about quieting cows, but about workers being encouraged not to drive their cars to work, in the interest of protecting the environment. Now I understood. “They want their people to ride cows to work,” I said to myself. It made for an engaging mental image: hundreds of Heifer workers mounted on cattle heading down President Clinton Avenue toward their new office building. But, wrong again. Cow-mute is only an attempted play on the word commute and the Heifer name. The employees are encouraged to use all sorts of transportation other than the single-passenger automobile — bicycling, walking, car pooling. A worthwhile project, no doubt. But to me, only the person who rides a cow will qualify as a gen

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

More by Max Brantley

Most Shared

Latest in Words

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

October

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Trust and obey

    • A very timely and beautifully written piece. Indeed, the whole frightening paradigm is about preserving…

    • on October 15, 2017
  • Re: Trust and obey

    • Anyone else ponder how many times donald trump, playboy for five-decades, may have paid for/insisted…

    • on October 14, 2017
  • Re: Conspiracy theories

    • Here's the business end of the Politifact article cited above by Vanessa: "Newsweek's claim is…

    • on October 14, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation