Saturday, December 23, 2006

Fy Authority

In modern English, the prefix "de" is a common one. It derives from Latinate origin and usually implies a reversal or reduction of that which follows it.

Fair enough.

By this seemingly logical rationale, we get verbs like "deactivate", "decontaminate", and "deconstruct", signifying that we've stopped our activating, ceased our contaminating, and undone our constructing. We derail trains. We detox ourselves.

All that being said, then where on earth do we get "deplore", "deprive", "defy", and plethoric other verbs which fail to follow the established conventions? Why the crap, if I can deplore a poor worldview or an ideology, can't I plore a good one? And if I had a happy and fulfilled growing-up experience, why can't I say I was a prived child? Would the linguistic police write me up for reckless endangerment if I put a bumper sticker on my car which proclaimed, "Fy Authority"?

Are we really such a glass-is-half-empty culture that we have only managed to maintain all these terms in their negative constructions? I mean, seriously, where have all the ploring, priving, fying people gone? Are they with the ept, couth, peccable ones?

On that note, please enjoy the following New Yorker piece by Jack Winter (25 July 1994). It's so brilliant I could have written it, but sadly, didn't.

"How I Met My Wife

It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very chalant, despite my efforts to appear gruntled and consolate. I was furling my wieldy umbrella for the coat check when I saw her standing alone in a corner. She was a descript person, a woman in a state of total array. Her hair was kempt, her clothing shevelled, and she moved in a gainly way. I wanted desperately to meet her, but I knew I'd have to make bones about it since I was travelling cognito. Beknownst to me, the hostess, whom I could see both hide and hair of, was very proper, so it would be skin off my nose if anything bad happened. And even though I had only swerving loyalty to her, my manners couldn't be peccable. Only toward and heard-of behavior would do.

Fortunately, the embarrassment that my maculate appearance might cause was evitable. There were two ways about it, but the chances that someone as flappable as I would be ept enough to become persona grata or a sung hero were slim. I was, after all, something to sneeze at, someone you could easily hold a candle to, someone who usually aroused bridled passion. So I decided not to risk it.

But then, all at once, for some apparent reason, she looked in my direction and smiled in a way that I could make heads or tails of. I was plussed. It was concerting to see that she was communicado, and it nerved me that she was interested in a pareil like me, sight seen. Normally, I had a domitable spirit, but, being corrigible, I felt capacitated ~ as if this were something I was great shakes at ~ and forgot that I had succeeded in situations like this only a told number of times.

So, after a terminable delay, I acted with mitigated gall and made my way through the ruly crowd with strong givings. Nevertheless, since this was all new hat to me and I had no time to prepare a promptu speech, I was petuous. Wanting to make only called-for remarks, I started talking about the hors d'oeuvres, trying to abuse her of the notion that I was sipid, and perhaps even bunk a few myths about myself. She responded well, and I was mayed that she considered me a savory character who was up to some good. She told me who she was. "What a perfect nomer," I said, advertently. The conversation become more and more choate, and we spoke at length to much avail. But I was defatigable, so I had to leave at a godly hour. I asked if she wanted to come with me. To my delight, she was committal. We left the party together and have been together ever since. I have given her my love, and she has requited it."

This post brought to you courtesy of intellectual OCD and Guinness Extra Stout.