Reason #736293 We're A Match Made In Heaven: A Mutual Appreciation Of Linguistic Oneupmanship, As Discovered In The Car On The W

"Hey Hol, did you know that both 'indexes' and 'indices' are correct?"

"Uh, yes. Actually, I think I did know that."

"Well, don't you think that's kind of unfair?"

"Unfair? What do you mean, unfair?"

"Well, say you use 'indices' in conversation. Then people know that you know a little something, right?"


"But if you can say 'indexes' as well, and it's still correct, then that seems like sort of a cop-out. No-one's going to be impressed with 'indices' anymore. They're not going to think that you know a little something. They're just going to think you're the kind of tool who says things like 'indices' when 'indexes' will do just as well."

"Oh my god, you're so right."

"I know!"

"Actually, though, I still think you can get away with 'indices' and sound clever. I mean, most people who would have said 'indexes' are going to feel stupid when you bust out the 'indices,' aren't they? They'll probably think they've been saying 'indexes' wrong all those years and feel awful about it. I think you can still have the upper hand."

"Yeah, true. Hey, do I come off the freeway here?"

"Nope, next exit. So listen, how do you feel about 'criteria' versus 'criterium'?"

Mar 12, 2007

The singular of "criteria" is "criterion." A criterium is a bike race.

Now that that's out of my system, I completely agree with you on the importance of linguistic accord in a healthy relationship. My husband is still annoyed that I knew how to pronounce "quixotic" properly and he didn't. And I had to break out two different dictionaries to prove it.

(I just recently found your blog, and am working my way through the archives. You're hilarious.)

Mar 12, 2007

The other day I saw a sign for a landscaping company called 'Octopuses Garden' which just about made me lose my mind...

Because naturally the plural of octopus is octopi and the possessive of octopus is octopus's...

With you on the linguistic superiority train.

Mar 12, 2007

... although now I see that octopuses is also an acceptable plural. So I find myself in the same situation as you with indices. Hmm.

But still! Not possessive!

Mar 12, 2007

The first thing that I must say is that Seans use of the word "tool" made me smile. I just used that word about five minutes ago.
The second thing would be that my husband and I enjoy linguastically oneupping Each Other. As in:
Me: well arent YOU a font of knowlegde.
Him: I think you mean fount.
Me: *googling the saying* Um. Yeah. Jackass? You can use EITHER. Ha.
Him: ...
Thats love, right there.

Nothing But Bonfires
Mar 12, 2007

Wow, Cobwebs, I think you just one-upped ME. Although "criterion" is TOTALLY what I meant. Um, absolutely.

Mar 12, 2007

One thing I love about you, LOOVVVEEEE about you (and apparently Sean, too), is your vocabulary. I think that it's safe to say I learn a new word nearly every time you write a new entry. Is that a little sad?

For other people who read this entry and pronounced indices as [in-dy-seez], please note that the correct pronunciation is [in-duh-seez].

It's a public service, really.

Mar 12, 2007

Oh, it's not {in-die-chez}? Huh.

Mar 12, 2007

Oh, I am a terrible snob about that stuff; I always correct people who try to use "alumni" as a singular word rather than the correct "alumnus" or "alumna". I actually used the word "indices" in a billing narrative just last week!

Another, and timely, pet peeve of mine is "Daylight Savings Time." NO. It is Daylight Saving Time, as in "it saves daylight." Everybody on earth gets that one wrong. (Does Daylight Saving Time even exist in the UK?)

Mar 12, 2007


Editors do not think about this stuff on their day off, because thinking about it all the time would mean that there is something wrong with editors, by which I mean "besides the mental illness that already causes editors to comment in the third person." It's possible that editors do have a natural fascination with the topic, but this fascination is dangerously close to becoming an obsession, so if editors want to keep from turning into a vocabulary-obsessed hermit whose only friend is a little man named Noah Webster, with occasional social visits from those meddling Merriam brothers, the editor should now RUN FROM THIS BLOG.


Mar 12, 2007

wow, not only are you and sean a match made in heaven, you are a match with my flatmate. she takes a marker pen to restaurants so that she can "update" the menu with correct tense and spelling

and im totally picturing this huge garden full of octopi, although you know the person who named the landscaping company was just obsessed with bowl-cuts

Daily Tragedies
Mar 12, 2007

You were headed to the outlets to blow your first paycheck, weren't you? It's can tell us.

Mar 12, 2007

Wait, how do you pronounce quixotic?? (*nervous I have been saying it wrong all this time*)

I, too, appreciate linguistic oneupmanship, but this weekend my boyfriend told me I am just a douche.

Nothing But Bonfires
Mar 12, 2007

Daily Tragedies, you obviously know me FAR too well. That's exactly what we were doing.

Mar 12, 2007

Ooohhh. This makes me think of "Eats, Shoots and Leaves." The Panda says "no!".

Mar 13, 2007

That knowledge (that "indexes" is also correct) is the exact sort of thing that would annoy me, but I would feel silly for saying so. You guys are lucky you see eye to eye on this one.

Quixotic, by the way, is kwik-SOTT-ik, just like it looks (but not, like, I don't know, key-HOE-tic, or something, like Don Quixote). (So, Sadie, I bet you have been saying it right.)

[And here is the moment of ultimate dorkdom, where I somehow have to say that although "octopi" has come to be an accepted plural of "octopus," it's historically inaccurate, because "octopus" is from the Greek whereas the "-pi" plural formulation is from the Latin. "Octopuses" is preferred in English, "octopodes" is the Greek plural. But yeah, none of them is posessive.]

Mar 13, 2007

Er, nor are they possessive. Criminy.

Mar 13, 2007

Truly, an incomparable match of superior wit, wisdom and cheekbones. Seriously...the two of you are genetically blessed. Thank your parents.

Mar 13, 2007

And now I have to find a legitimate excuse to use "octopodes" in casual conversation!

Mar 13, 2007

Oh, the one that gets me is candleabra and candelabrum.

Perfect conversation - certainly well suited.

Mar 13, 2007

vague gets a gold star. "Quixotic" derives from the behavior of Don Quixote, so my husband was adamant that it should be pronounced that way. I'm sure you've been pronouncing it the way all the normal people do, Sadie.

(I have no idea what other couples argue about, but most of our arguments end with somebody getting out either a dictionary or an encyclopedia.)

Mar 13, 2007

O.K. then, how about preventive vs. preventative? Both are technically correct (they are both in the OED), but "preventive" is the preferred version. When I hear someone say "preventative," it just doesn't feel right. Oh, you know what I mean.

Mar 13, 2007

Holy concentric cosmic circles, batman.... this guy in my office just learned the word "indices" and has been talking about it for two days straight. Now here it is again!

Tres bizarre.

- M

Mar 20, 2007

While exploring options in med school, I told a professor that I was interested in "preventative medicine." His reply was, "Drop the '-ta'." So humiliating. By the way, that incident completely vaporized my interest.