Wednesday, May 14, 2008


In trivia I recently explored the word kudos to discern whether it could exist in the singular. My M-W posse didn't fail me, giving a lengthy explanation on the back formation of the singular version, kudo. In that lovely little treatise, they alluded to the fact that the words cherry and pea are singular backformations of Greek words that look plural in English. Unfortunately, neither of their definitions yielded any hearty etymological fruit. So I had to search elsewhere for the full scoop.

I imagine other people might have dissimilar reactions (or none at all), but I love this about the English language. We just make up stuff, but we do it so brazenly, yet artfully. So-called grammar Nazis will protest at the slightest departure from the so-called standards, but a true linguist will exploit the tiniest loophole to cook up new verbal recipes in this melting pot of a language. Yesterday's grammatical affront becomes tomorrow's literary haute cuisine. Yummy. (Which, I just learned, finds its etymological roots in yum-yum.)

1 comment:

I welcome all comments and arguments, especially if you cite your sources (no need to use MLA style or anything).