January 16th, 2007

Words, Words, Words

I have a new favorite word. It is an excellent word for many reasons: 

1. It is superlong.

2. It’s not at all necessary because

            a. No one else knows what it means so

            b. You would always have to define it as you used it, so why bother using it in the first place?

3. It’s practically unpronounceable.

 

All of which adds up to a word you have to truly love in order to bother memorizing how to spell.

 

I was always a good speller, probably because I was a good reader. But I was always a very poor pronouncer, probably because I didn’t recognize words I knew in print when I heard them.

 

Example One

Once in fourth grade or so I was telling my mom a story, and I really needed to use the word “vehement.” (NEEDED to.) So I did, and that’s when it all started to go downhill.

 

“What did you say?” My mom was giving me a funny look, but that was nothing unusual.

 

“She was just really vehement about it.”

(This would be a good place to mention that I pronounced “vehement” as veh-HEM-ent.)

 

When she stopped laughing, she told me how to really pronounce it. It was a long time before I tried that one again.

 

Example Two

In the district spelling bee in sixth grade, I was up against one other kid in the final round. My word was “awry.” I had never heard this word before. But the example sentence made me think of a word I did know: awry. (This would be a good place to mention that I pronounced this word as AW-ree. Which sounds a lot more awry than a-RYE, I’m sure you agree.)

 

So I said to the proctor: “Is that word ever pronounced AW-ree?”

 

She blinked rapidly, but merely said, “Let me check the dictionary.”

 

Seconds later she informed me that no, it was not. I squared my shoulders and decided to take a chance that, for whatever reason, she was mispronouncing my word AW-ree.

 

I won the spelling bee. (And I learned that whoever decides how words should be pronounced is very, very silly. I maintain my “AW-ree-sounds-more-awry-than-a-RYE” stance.)

 

As the executive editor of Fibromyalgia AWARE (oh--did I forget to mention the latest issue is out?), I encounter a lot of unprounceables. Or things that would be unpronounceable unless you gave them a lot of consideration.

 

Words like:

Dysautonomia

Corticotrophin

and

Cytokine.

 

And don’t even ask me about the medications—it’s a tossup whether the generic name is better or worse than the brand name (although one is usually shorter than the other, as is the case with Cyclobenzaprine/ Flexeril).   

 

But nothing could top my new fave, which I came across in a press release last week.

 

So without further ado, I present to you

 

SPHYGMOMANOMETRY

A truly excellent noun meaning “the elicitation of pain during blood pressure testing.”

 

For those of you meeting SPHYGMOMANOMETRY for the first time, treasure this moment. For all of you out there—both longtime friends and new acquaintances—use it wisely. Words like this don’t come along every day. Not even in the pages of Fibromyalgia AWARE.




Site Meter