A year ago or so, Mary and I visited some Wisconsin friends who have the TV set turned on to Fox News literally 24/7. We found that odd, but not disturbing and found it stimulated some interesting conversation along the way. I don’t know if that is when Mary started watching O’Reilly or not, but she is now a faithful fan and, in fact, we have tickets for a rare visit he will soon make to Orange County.
In trying to analyze what attracts her to the show, I moved from politics to content to guests and think I have it figured out. While she was hooked by the guests, she is mesmerized by the Factor Word of the Day. For those of you who have recently returned from another planet, Bill ends almost every daily session by leaving the audience with a word, which he uses in a sentence, for them to use, look up or both.
I remember a similar exercise from my sixth-grade nun and credit it with the fact that most people think I have a pretty good vocabulary. This would not seem surprising, since O’Reilly was a teacher before he entered the commentary field. My older son today reminded me that my use of the word “embrasure” could be considered ostentatious, as he had never heard the word before I used it in talking about his son, and doubted if anyone in the pool hall had heard it either, a fact I conceded might be correct. This from a boy/man who took Advanced Vocabulary from a teacher who would leave high school teaching to become Elizabeth George.
Recently O’Reilly hit Mary on three successive days with words she couldn’t find in our dictionary: Blooter, Broozle and Niding. I could have guessed pretty well only on Blooter (bumbling idiot as in, “Don’t be a blooter.”) and truthfully could care less about knowing that broozle means to perspire profusely and niding means a coward. And as for not find the words in our dictionary, I chalked that up to the fact that the dictionary remains the only wedding gift still in regular use after fifty-plus years together. I note as I write this that Bill Gates also seems not to be familiar with any of the three words .
I suggested to Mary on our fifth anniversary that we acknowledge those gifts still in regular use with another thank you note to which Mary replied, “I sent out the last ones. If you want to do it, be my guest.” They never got sent. Nor have I mentioned the idea on any successive anniversary
As I write this post, I am reminded that words change and get added (and sometimes subtracted) from dictionaries all the time. My Elizabeth George-trained son said my six year old grandson impressed his Principal when his mother passed on the comment to Ms. Norman that Ethan thought his first-grade teacher, Ms. Feeney “owned”. This stymied the Principal and prompted Ethan’s mother to comment that she thought it meant, “totally smart” (which she is) and in any respect was a compliment. The Principal was going to see if her children knew the term.
I am not as surprised with what the new words are and how they come into being as I am about how they seem to become verbs from nouns (“Let me Google that.”) or how specific items become the category of the item: Xerox, Kleenex, or Tablet. Intellectual property rights are beginning to blur.
I wonder if some of you share my feelings of inadequacy in maintaining pace with the changes in our language. Maybe time will bring an App on my iPhoneto keep me from being a blooter. Or maybe there already is one for me to download.
My next blog will contain some interesting information on inheritance that I picked up on in the last few weeks.