Thursday, March 11, 2010

Grammar Niggle of the Week

If curious people are said to possess curiosity, monstrous people are said to possess monstrosity, and generous people are said to possess generosity, why do mysterious people supposedly possess a "mysteriousness"? Shouldn't they have a certain mysteriosity to them?

Likewise, furious people should be known for their furiosity, a wondrous event should be claimed to possess a quality called wondrosity, and of course, the nose of an elephant seal is remarkable for its bulbosity. And yet, the tyranny of the spell-checker insists that none of these are words. It's downright tragic, it is.

And since this is a fairly tiny, silly post, I'll puff it out a bit by mentioning that starting tomorrow, I'll be doing occasional guest posts on the explosively talented Christopher Bird's every Friday! He's generously consented to let me have a say every now and then, and I'm happy to ride on his coat-tails to the greatest extent the law will allow.


Bill Reed said...

But furiosity *is* a word. Even if Firefox has that squiggly line under it, it's a word, dammit.

Bruce B said...

Sorry for posting O/T, John, but I couldn't find your Dr. Who bit of fiction from several months ago, where this belongs:

As I read it, I kept flashing back to your multiple-part story...

Anonymous said...


Curious people possess curiosity.

Monstrous people possess monstrousness. A monstrosity is something different.

Generous people oossess generosity.

Mysterious people possess mystery. Mysteriousness is something different.

Furious people possess fury.

Wondrous events possess wonder.

Word evolution has many factors, and one of them is whether the adjective form came first or the noun form.

I know you were doing this as a lark, but I teach university English, and in this day and age I STILL have students who honestly want to know why they have to start the word "psychology" with a P instead of with an S -- and complain long and loud about it.

Anonymous said...

And apparently being a university professor doesn't make me immune to typos.


Sorry about that.