Friday, December 21, 2007

Words for Christmas

I really dislike the word biweekly. Now, normally I’m quite tolerant of words, as long as they spell themselves correctly, place themselves in sentences in a reasonably grammatical fashion, and hang out with the right sort of punctuation. And of course they must mean what they say, which is where we run into problems with the word in question here. You see, although when we’re speaking of years, there is a clear differentiation between biennial and biannual, biweekly can mean either every two weeks or twice weekly, so you tell me: what earthly use is a word like that?

There are certainly plenty of words in English called homographs, that are spelled the same but mean different things. But in most cases it is clearly obvious from context which meaning you are to take. I suppose if you just yelled, “Duck!” one might not be sure whether to hit the dirt or look around for an interesting specimen of waterfowl. And “Throw me a ball” could be ambiguous. Do I want a spherical object or a big dance party in my honour?

I just can’t imagine under what circumstances I would choose to use the word biweekly. If I tell you my cleaning lady comes biweekly, or I have to gas up my car biweekly, what do you glean from that? You have no idea how often these things happen. (Bimonthly, by the way, has the same problem.)

This could be avoided if we embraced the term semiweekly for twice a week (which is indeed what it unambiguously means) and reserved biweekly for every two weeks. But how do we go about making this happen? Any dictionary you consult today allows for either definition for biweekly. This is useless, people! Stop the madness and make yourself clear!

In an earlier blog, I’ve briefly touched on other words I dislike, for other reasons. But I must finish off here by telling you one of my favourite words. It’s abecedarian, meaning to do with the alphabet or, by extension, things of a rudimentary nature. When I first heard it, I thought it must be a relatively recent term and admired the cleverness of its coiner, but in fact it has been around since at least the Middle Ages. Such crystal clear derivation! Such a dandy word! It is my Christmas gift to you -- along with semiweekly.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot...

Well, I have no specific topic today but I’ve reached the point, again, where I feel I have to say something lest my vast readership forget about me altogether. So I shall ramble.

First of all, I find myself astounded that it is December 1st. I have not purchased a single Christmas gift, and that is unprecedented. I have always made at least a start before December 1st, but this year that date suddenly came upon me without warning. Boom. 24 shopping days till Christmas.

But not really 24 days. This coming week I will be involved in a special work assignment that promises to keep me tied to my computer at least eight hours a day, so in fact I only have 17 shopping days till Christmas. But I won’t shop weekends or Christmas Eve, so that leaves me ten shopping days till Christmas. And out of any given ten days, I’m likely to have a migraine on at least one of them, so that leaves me at best nine shopping days till Christmas.

See how I can effortlessly work myself up into a complete frenzy?

Offsetting that negative freak-out, however, is a positive one. Scarcely seven weeks back from my last holiday and I already have my next cruise booked! Now, this is the lifestyle I have in mind! I’m off back to the warm Caribbean again at the end of February. There are endless itineraries for cruising the Caribbean area, and if one repeats some beautiful little tropic isles, well, who cares? It’s about the warm sun sparkling on aquamarine waters, the steel drum music, the flowers, the brightly-coloured fabrics, the brightly-coloured drinks o’ day…

This is what keeps me sitting at my computer working away. I work to cruise.

And in our neck of the woods, we have the first snowfall of the season today. Thank goodness we had the foresight to have our snow tires installed last week, just in the nick of time. RH always cleverly saves up a couple of routine things that need doing to our Accord, such as oil changes or mysterious tune-ups of one sort or another (I have no idea), because our Honda dealership will throw in a gratis tire change if you’re having something else done.

We’ve become very devoted Honda people. We have owned four (including VCCGirl’s), and we couldn’t be happier with the cars themselves, the organization in general and our dealership specifically. Shortly after we bought VCCGirl’s Fit with her recently, we got a call from the Honda head office surveying our purchase experience with the dealership. RH gave rave reviews in all areas but one: there had been a slight but annoying glitch in the filling out of the purchase papers. Some optional fee he had asked to have removed from the contract kept reappearing in the various versions of it and it was only due to his vigilance that VCCGirl didn’t end up paying it. The very next day, we got a call from the manager of our local dealership apologizing profusely for the inconvenience we had suffered. He had obviously received a blast from the head office almost immediately. It’s always a bit surprising when large corporations actually seem to take you seriously!

I guess that’s all the rambling I’ve got for today. It’s 3:30 p.m. and already starting to look like evening outside as the snow falls ever more thickly. It’s very pretty. It’s making me want to go crank up the Christmas tunes and start unpacking those boxes of decorations!