Sunday, December 07, 2008


Duodecimate, Vicesimate, Etc.

A correspondent writes:
Anent decimation, it is a word I suspect we both have trouble using these days, being acutely conscious of its literal & historical sense. I have not heard it used as I would wish it were used in 25 years. So we are the odd ducks out, and the loose sense has clearly won the day. I strike back with humor when I can, using new coinages in contexts where they will be seen as humor, not pedantry. If the stock market drops something over 8%, I lament the duodecimation! A 5% drop vicesimates the market. You get the idea. We cannot prescribe anything to anyone, but maybe some people will notice how we play with language and be amused enough to follow suit.

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