Columns » Words

Words, Feb. 11



Headline: “Civil War panel low on funds: Don't have enough for anniversary markers, it says.”

I doesn't either, governor replies.

“Let's keep our fingers crossed that these local could-bes have been out of public view lately because they've been busy working on being dope, rather than, say, sulking because the A-state doesn't get its due.”

I assumed the reviewer had used the wrong word — surely “busy taking dope” was intended — but when I offered to make the cor-rection, he resisted. Dope has added a new meaning, he said. Among younger people, the adjective dope means “cool, nice, awe-some: Man, that car is dope.

He wouldn't let me change “A-state” to “Arizona,” either.

Don't be a dope, get away from that piste:

A quote from Ghana's one-man Winter Olympics team: “I was number 111, last to go in a blizzard, bitter cold and on a desperately icy piste. The starter asked me ‘You OK?' and I said ‘No, I don't want to go. But I must.' ”

Is piste a Ghanian word, I wondered. No, it's familiar to skiers the world around, evidently. A piste is “a track or trail, as a downhill ski run or a spoor made by a wild animal.”

People in states like Arkansas, Arizona and Alabama always hear unfamiliar terms during the Winter Olympics. The luge will be on us before we know it. And there's a strange device used in the sport of curling — a brume, I think they call it.

Incidentally, all us A-staters expect Olympic skiers to have names that are French, Italian, German or Scandinavian. The Ghanian team's name is Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong. He's also known as “The Snow Leopard.”

“She called police at about 7:40 a.m. to report that she was the driver.” Is at about a redundancy? Not in this case, according to Garner's Modern American Usage. Garner says that about can often do the job by itself, “but in many contexts, especially those involving expressions of time, the phrase at about is common, idiomatic, and unimpeachable.”

Add a comment