Monday, November 2, 2009

Eight is Enough

Apologies. The last two weeks have had me working overtime at the job that actually pays my bills, and I haven't had enough mental energy left at the end of the day to post.  What's that?  Yes, I think I would like some cheese with my whine.  Here we go.

Today's word: octosyllable.  Definition: A word of eight syllables.

First thought: Isn't it odd that the word octosyllable only has five syllables? 
Second thought: How many words out there really do have eight syllables?

Like any person today with a healthy amount of curiosity, I naturally pulled up my search engine and typed in "eight syllable words."  Here are some that I found:  unconstitutionality, electronegativity, (you can keep on counting them on your fingers, I know you're doing it) unidirectionality, autosuggestibility.  I'm not sure whether these are actual words, although they seem legitimate enough.  I would have opened yet another tab to check, but I was stopped by the following suggestion to the eight-syllable question on Yahoo Answers.  

Yes, Yahoo Answers, that bastion of intellectualism (in-tel-lect...damn, only seven) that beckons to the desperate and downtrodden.  This was an "answer" (we didn't say they would all be right, now did we) posted by someone:  antidisestablishmentarianism.

Now, I don't know if I should be comforted by the fact that this "answer" (I have to keep using quotes, because the term is so loose) received zero votes on the site, presumably of confidence in the future of mankind, or if I should be even more disturbed by the fact that someone out there either doesn't know what a syllable is or mysteriously has twelve fingers on which to count them.

But really, shouldn't we expect to receive some ludicrous responses when we essentially ask thousands of complete strangers to weigh in on our issues? You'd have to imagine you'd get a cross-section of the population, which includes morons, dimwits, and your general idiots.

We don't do this in real life.  When I have a question or a problem, I don't think to myself, "Who's the dumbest person I know?  Let's get that perspective.  Yeah."  No, I go to someone with either expertise in the subject or life experience, someone whose opinions I respect or whose views are valuable. This is not to say you might not find a similar guru on Yahoo Answers ... but the law of averages says that most of the really quality minds are busy elsewhere.

Unless, of course, your question is potentially embarrassing, in which case, the Internet would seem to be the greatest invention ever.  One of my friends recently told me that there's nothing sadder than going into Google, typing in "can you" and seeing what autopopulates to finish the question.  Go ahead, do it.  It's an interesting window into what's foremost on the minds of America's youth. 

If you're not up to it, let me summarize by saying that there are countless young girls out there who are unnecessarily confused by all the ways in which a person can and cannot become pregnant.  I couldn't help but be reminded of a conversation I overheard on the bus about six months ago between two girls.  I'd estimate their ages at about 16.  It was slightly dramatic and vulgar, and the end went like this:

Girl #1:  "I ain't worried bout gettin' pregnant, cause I'm on the pill."
Girl #2:  "Girl, the pill don't keep you from gettin' pregnant.  It just kill yo baby."

I don't know what was said after that, because my ears were bleeding from the sheer ignorance.  I was engaged in an internal debate about whether to turn and correct them when I almost missed my stop.  At the time, I wasn't sure it was my place to intervene.  But in light of the internet question forum phenomenon, which dictates rightness by popular opinion, maybe I should have.  Perhaps we've been leaving them to Yahoo Answers for too long.

1 comment:

Pearl said...

See? This is why I wear headphones on the bus. :-) The amount of stupidity available registers much high than my ability to bear said stupidity allows.

Diggin' your writing style, Cotonee. :-)