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C’est vendredi matin! Et voilà: quelque chose qui n’est pas necessaire! Sensass!

August 20, 2010

Why the French post title? Je ne sais effing pas. Pourquoi penses-tu que je dois expliquer tous mes choix ridiculeux? J’attaquerai ta tête avec un chauve-souris de baseball.

This morning I realized something as I wrote a Facebook comment and felt compelled to pass it on to my readers, fond as you all both are of language and metrics. Basically, it all began when I took a thorough 15-lb. Christmas gander at the word pedometer.

Although innocuous when pronounced aloud, I noticed against my will that it looks filthy disgusting on the page. Why? Because the English brain is trained to pronounce a word like that trochaically, i.e., in this case, PE-do-ME-ter.

Hmmmmm…that can’t be right. Or can it? The brain is champing at the bit to try using it in a sentence. Let us proceed.

CHILD: Mom, can I go outside and play?

MOTHER: Check the pedometer first. If it’s above five, you’ll have to stay in.

CHILD: It’s at 4.5!

MOTHER: Well… All right. But don’t leave the yard.

And just like that, thanks to a metrical glitch, the brain has transformed the word pedometer from a simple Greek-derived term for a step-measuring device to an equally simple, equally Greek-derived, but less really-existing term for some kind of wall-mounted electronic gadget that ascertains the proximity of Noone to one’s home or office.

I guess mainly why I’m writing this post is so I won’t be the only person inadvertently imagining the above conversation every time I see the word pedometer from now on. I find that the desire to dilute one’s inappropriateness is one of the top five reasons for having a blog.

I think my French is off in the first paragraph. Should dois be in the subjunctive? Indirect discourse? I used to be fluent. Now I mangle the language at every opportunity, often unintentionally.

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