Tag Archives: The New Yorker

Forget the last post; this is the real deal

Two days ago I wrote a post about Mary Norris, The New Yorker‘s “Comma Queen” and her review of three new grammar books with very different approaches. Unfortunately, the link was incorrect. The link below should take you to her brief article. I think you’ll enjoy it. She’s quite witty.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/comma-queen/the-long-hot-summer-of-grammar

 

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Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Do We Really Need Prefixes?

I have been a subscriber to The New Yorker since the Millard Fillmore administration and must have read this humor piece by Jack Winter in the July 25, 1994 issue. Somehow, I had forgotten it, but my longtime friend Darrell F. sent it to me, knowing it would be up my proverbial alley. Mr. Winter must have spent a long time with a thesaurus and dictionary to get the perfect words for this article. Do enjoy it!

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How I Met My Wife

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 a 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 risk 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.

I was plussed. It was concerting to see that she was communicado, and it nerved me that she was interested in a pareil like me, sight seen. Normally, I had a domitable spirit, but, being corrigible, I felt capacitated–as if this were something I was great shakes at–and forgot that I had succeeded in situations like this only a told number of times. 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. Wanting to make only called-for remarks, I started talking about the hors d’oeuvres, trying to abuse her of the notion that I was sipid, and perhaps even bunk a few myths about myselfs.

She responded well, and I was mayed that she considered me a savory character who was up to some good. She told me who she was. “What a perfect nomer,” I said, advertently. The conversation become 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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My All-Time Favorite Typo

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This goes back a long way, but it is a typo I saw with my own eyes in the San Francisco Chronicle (often called the SF Comical because of its frequent typos) in the early 1970s. It was soon reprinted in The New Yorker for readers’ enjoyment.

Here is the back story: In those days, the Chronicle published not only engagement and marriage announcements but also divorce announcements of so-called prominent residents. Also at that time of the Vietnam War, many troop trains were leaving from Oakland, CA. That may seem like a non-sequitur, but stay tuned.

A prominent San Francisco “socialite” at that time, whose parties and adventures were closely monitored by the newspaper, was named Dolly McMasters Johnson. This is what the Chronicle wrote when the Johnsons announced they were divorcing: “Mr. (Iforgethisfirstname) Johnson is suing his wife, Dolly McMasters Johnson, for divorce on grounds of frigidity. [Insert a troop train.]”

I recall the article went on to give personal facts of interest to readers about the unhappy couple, but after that lead, what could be more fascinating?

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Filed under All things having to do with the English language