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Words, Jan. 22

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Mollie Kottel submits an item from Parade magazine:

Q. Where did Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony get the names Max and Emme for their twins? A. The uber-couple won't provide details, but we suspect that the names of their twins were inspired by PBS's popular bilingual cartoon series ‘Dragon Tales'.”

“What is an uber-couple?” Ms. Kottel asks. “Sounds stuck-up to me. My boyfriend and I like to eat peanut brittle, and put peanuts in our Cokes. Does that make us a goober couple?”

Most of what I know I learned from Parade magazine, but I had to go to another source for help with uber. Merriam-Webster On-line says it's a prefix from German, where it means “over, beyond,” as in “Deutschland uber alles.” In American usage, it means “being a superlative example of its kind or class; super.” I'll bet Lopez and Anthony have been described as a mega-couple too. Probably in Parade.

Incidentally, does anybody know if this Marc Anthony is the same one who used to date Cleopatra? If so, he must be older than Hugh Hefner. And still pairing up with young women? He's earned his adjectives.

In the original item, uber appeared with two little dots over it. This mark is called an umlaut, and it's supposed to help with pronunciation. My computer isn't capable of making this mark, or if it is, it hasn't told me. Fortunately, lack of umlaut is not a major problem, according to Bryan A. Garner's Dictionary of Modern American Usage. Garner says the pronunciation distinction made by the umlaut is “largely academic … these marks are often omitted.”

 

“The wine bar is a simple idea, yet it can be fraught.” H. Lee of Little Rock believes this sentence ended too soon. “Fraught with what?” he or she asks. I too believed that fraught (“full of or accompanied by”) was always followed by with, as in “fraught with danger.” Now I find that's only one usage. M-W says fraught can also mean “causing or characterized by emotional distress or tension — a fraught relationship.”

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