Friday, February 8, 2008


I have to admit defeat on this point. The Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary accepts the American pronounciation of foyer . From now on I will be calling the nine square feet of tile just inside my front door the "foi-yur". I might as well just accept it. The proper French pronounciation (it is, after all, a French word) of "foi-yay" is destined to slowly fade away. So. "Foi-yur" it is.

But I'm not letting you off so easily on some other points. Pay attention! This is important:

ELECTROCUTE means to kill by electric shock. I can't stand hearing people say "I stuck my tongue in the fuse box and I got electrocuted!" You're not dead (Darwin, where are you when we need you?), so you weren't electrocuted. Stop exaggerating.

It's easy to remember the meaning of electrocute, because it rhymes with that other word that makes you dead, EXECUTE. There is no way that you can be executed and live to tell the tale. Although I imagine that it's only a matter of time before the exaggerators of the world run out of easy hyperbole and start using this one. "Dude, I was riding that wave and I got totally executed!"

It might appear that all words ending in "-cute" will kill you. If that were the case, the word cute itself might acquire lethal connotations. "Boy, that charging rhinoceros sure is cute!" "Yeah, he sure is! RUN!!"

But it's not so, or elocution (the art of speaking in public) would also be fatal. "Wow, that speech really knocked'em dead!" could literally be true. Politicians would have to be careful or their speeches would kill off their supporters. Election campaigns would be... different.

I could go on like this all night. Yes, I am that much of a nerd. But enough lecturing. Class dismissed!


Karen said...

I didn't realize that electrocute could only be used where death was the result. I figured it was any severe shock. Thanks for teaching me something new today. :)

Warped Mind of Ron said...

But.. but... I like to exagerate! Come on if you don't let me exagerate I will literally die!! LOL

Aurora said...

Soooo... if I use electrocute in a too-cute way, I will be executed?

I too am sad about the disappearance of foy-yay.

Anonymous said...

Other than echoing karen's comments, I've got this image in my mind of a couple on safari having the rhino conversation in baby talk, but the image is a Far Side panel.

Good stuff.

Sparkling Red said...

Karen: You're most welcome! I'm just doing my duty as a member of the English Police, ma'am. ;-)

Warped Mind of Ron: Oh you! Silly. :-)

Aurora: Yes, I will personally execute you. You know, I was also going to rang on "decimate" being misused, but so many people used it "incorrectly" that the Miriam-Webster online dictionary added the new common definition. Yes, this is the way language evolves. No, I am not required to like it.

Whatigotsofar: Thanks. Good visual! I was picturing it more like a Monty Python skit, ending with a chase and the theme music from the Benny Hill show. :-)

The Ex said...

I always say I was "shocked" if I get an electric burst, you know? I don't regularly stick my fingers in sockets so yeah.

I say foi-yer but sometimes alternate to foi-yai if I'm feeling posh. I say rock it, girl.

Jenski said...

Fun with words!

You could always call your foy-yay an entry way and never have to say foy-yur.

R.E.H. said...

It is foy-yur to me... I'm terrible at pronouncing anything french (as in the language), so foy-yay comes out like foa-wayew or something like that.

Do you know a lot of people who are into the habit of licking electrical outlets?

Sparkling Red said...

The Ex: I went to a French-language school all the way through grade 8, so I'm always a stickler about French-derived words. I will rock my French!

Jenski: Actually it's so small that I rarely call it anything. It's just that space where we dump our shoes. ;-)

R.E.H.: Ha! I would love to hear you mangle some French. (Is is just me, or do all these references to French sound like sexual euphemisms?)

Anyway, since you asked, I did have a friend who, at the age of 7, stuck his tongue into a empty socket in a fuse box. The shock blew him across the room. And then in high school he ate a meatball off the subway floor. And then I married him. Do I have good taste in men, or what? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Good lesson teacher. If I were closer I'd bring you a sparkling red apple! : ) I am also a grammatical nerd - so I gladly welcome your lecture on proper verbiage.

Nicole said...

Cool - today I can say I learned something while blogging and that before 7 a.m.

But seriously, I like this :D

But I will NEVER pronounce Foyer the American way, my toe nails curl at the idea!

And now, Mdme teacher, what IS the proper term for flying through the room after sticking your tongue in the socket?

Idiocity? (What does Firefox mean, idiocity is NOT a word?)


Sparkling Red said...

Binky Ink: Awesome. I'm sure I'll find more misused English to complain about before long. ;-)

Nicole: Idiocity sounds like a good word to me. I'm all for using language creatively, so long as it's done consciously. :-)

jameil1922 said...

hahahaha. can we also banish 12am this morning? PLEASE!! you know i love to exaggerate but "that other word that makes you dead" is such a hilarious description!! love it!!

Sparkling Red said...

Jameil: Truly, I don't think I'd want to live in a world where no one ever exaggerated. :-)

Maxie said...

Yay, I actually learned something from blogging. But I still enjoy to be overly I may not change the way I use electrocute.