Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Too good to not mention

Sometimes, when you finally get to your back reading, you find gems like this from John Means, proprietor of The Village Wordsmith, the writing and editing newsletter of the San Antonio Express-News:

Mahatma Gandhi, in the days he was giving the British a bad time, developed callouses as he walked across India, and bad breath and ill health as well.
That made him a super calloused fragile mystic, vexed with halitosis.

Take that, Mary Poppins. OK, you can groan now.


At 5/31/06, 10:58 AM, Blogger aparker54 said...

The AHD has the following note: "Do not confuse the adjective callous, as in 'Years of dealing with criminals had left her callous,' with the noun callus, as in 'I have a callus on my thumb.'"

The OED calls "callous" (n.) an erroneous spelling of "callus," but M-W Unabridged accepts "callous" as an alternative spelling. Decisions, decisions.

At 5/31/06, 12:58 PM, Blogger Doug said...

And calloused specifically is the allowed adjective form in Webester's NWC4 (def. 1: "having calluses"). But yet this makes it a bit weird to the eye, spelling it callus in one place and calloused in another under strict construction. This isn't unprecedented, given the same distinction between mucus (n.) and mucous (adj.). But Webster's also lists callus as a verb, so logical extension is that there would be a past participle, callused, which could serve as an adjective. Hmmmm ....

(I actually do have a question about callus/callous on my usage tests for editing class; before you all jump me, the tests are open book and it is listed in the usage section).

One could also make the argument that under AP it should be supercalloused.

But such tedious discussions drain all the fun out of the quote, don't they? An occupational hazard we must at times avoid.

To inject a little levity back into things, I do note one of the quotes the OED cites in the etymology of callus: "Editors have..to develop enormous calluses at every point of contact with authorship."

At 6/2/06, 6:10 AM, Blogger aparker54 said...

OK, OK, I suck. A few hours ago, I wrote an earnest e-mail (!) to the Salon copy desk about a piece on "The Break-Up." My note?
[Here's the objectionable quote]
"There are times I've enjoyed watching her, most notably in Stephen Herek's ridiculous and enjoyable three-chord fable 'Rock Star." There, she played a rock-star wife whose grooviness floated lightly above a bedrock of good, common sense."

[My remark]
Aniston's character in "Rock Star" (Emily) wasn't a wife; she was a girlfriend.
John Means' (Means's) joke was far beyond my powers, and I loved it. I'll agree that copy editors too often spoil the fun. Obsessive-compulsive disorder.


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