To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I am feeling kind of negative these days, and I don't want to post negatively. So I will probably be a bit terse until my mood rights itself.

But I will talk about the word "nausea". The spelling of this word apparently is a stumbling-block to some. You can easily remember how to spell this word if you realize that it has a Greek root: "naus", meaning "ship". "Nautical" has its root in that word. Jason, if you'll remember, had a ship called the Argos, and his crew were the Argonauts. An astronaut is a star-sailor. To be nauseated literally is to be seasick, but the term means any kind of queasiness or feeling that you might toss your cookies. A related term is "nauseous", which people use to mean that they are nauseated, but which actually describes something that invokes nausea.

Homonyms present a great stumbling block to some people. Homonyms are words that you pronounce the same, but have different meanings and may have different spellings. "There" is a location, like "over there". "Their" is the possessive of "they", which if English was a logical language, would actually be "they's". "They played with their dog." "They're" is the contraction of "they are". "They're playing with their dog."

I, me, myself. "I" is the nominative case. "Me" is the objective case. The object of a to-be verb takes the nominative case. It is I. This is she. The objects of other verbs take the objective case. Let me do that. She spoke to Harvey and me. "Myself" is reflexive. I hit myself in the eye. I'm going to sit right down and write myself a letter. If "I" is the subject, "myself" is the object; otherwise, not. "She spoke to Harvey and myself" is WRONG. Do not be afraid of the word "me".

A NY Times article complains that on average, the performance on standardized tests of both publicly and privately schooled children is mediocre. What the heck else would it be? The whole country can't be Lake Wobegon. And one should be careful about drawing conclusions about test scores being below average. Some test scores are going to be below average, and some above. That's what "average" means. A related issue is rank: for instance, the fact that some state ranks 50th in per-pupil spending. If the states don't all have the same per-pupil spending, and you rank them, some state will rank last. It's inevitable.

Sometimes I read stuff like this and it bothers me, and I feel that I am hyper-critical. Other times I gloss over things that are incorrect or illogical and I worry that eventually they will seem right to me. My spoken grammar has definitely suffered in this way.

Okay, well, I am going to put my headache to bed. Things will look up this week. They'll have to. I will make them.


Sue said...

Thanks for explaining that myself thing. I hear it misused and cringe, yet I never understood how to explain my reaction.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Glad to be of help.

I save myself from hopeless pedantry by refusing to use the word "whom" even when it's appropriate. "Who did you want to give this to?" and so forth.