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Words April 13

by and


I hear those gentile voices calling:

“Senate Energy Chairman Pete Domenici recently praised the Department of the Interior for promoting ‘environmentally-gentile’ oil development in America’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Not one week later, tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled onto the delicate tundra of Alaska’s Arctic North Slope, giving all of us a preview of just how ‘gentile’ oil drilling operations would be if they were allowed on the Arctic Refuge’s fragile coastal plain. One report from an industry expert indicated this spill could be the largest in the history of North Slope oil and gas operations, second only to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. … Oil and gas exploration is not ‘gentile’ to the environment.”

Anything alcoholic qualifies as “band booze”:

“Hot Springs, circa 1920: Prohibition was on but humor was found in posing with the symbols of the then-band booze. ‘Drinks For Money, Not Fer the Bull,’ ‘White Mule, 2 Bits A Shot,’ and ‘Old Taylor 3 Days Old’ read some of the signs.”

Don’t play on the tracts:

Ken Parker saw this caption in the old-postcard series of the daily paper — “Osceola 1912 … The railroads allowed the clearing of vast tracks of bottomland forest which was then converted into farm fields.”

Jan Wylie writes:

“What happened to the word ‘memento’? A friend spent 10 minutes with her nose in Webster’s and finally asked how to spell it. ‘Momento’ is (if my Spanish of 45 years ago holds up) Spanish for ‘moment.’ I just hate to see a useful word dribble out of existence due to sloppy usage.”

Memento (“something that serves as a reminder or warning”) is still around. Ms. Wylie would appreciate Bryan A. Garner’s terse comment in his Dictionary of American Usage: “Memento. So spelled — not momento.” Merriam-Webster and other dictionaries are more accepting of momento as a variant spelling. That doesn’t require any of us to accept it in our own vocabularies.

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