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Thread: Mercurial: tell me what it means

  1. #21
    Teach your children Uncle David's Avatar
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    Re: Mercurial: tell me what it means

    Quote Originally Posted by judibug View Post
    It's not so much that I want to dumb things down for the Kats of the world, I just fear that I will be seen as pretentious.
    In real life I don't worry so much about coming off as pretentious because I'm as likely to say 'True Dat' as I am to reply 'I concur'. It seems to work for me. Still, all of my friends know that if they ask me the definition of a word I've used I will answer them without judgement. So, I'm comfortable using whatever words come to mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by judibug View Post
    ...callipygian. Look it up.
    I did! I doubt I'll be working it into a casual conversation anytime soon.
    The funniest thing about this particular signature is that by the time you realise it doesn't say anything it's too late to stop reading it.

  2. #22
    Wild thang Rattus's Avatar
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    Re: Mercurial: tell me what it means

    Quote Originally Posted by judibug View Post
    I think Tarzan's problem is his lack of social skills. He's highly educated and well read, but he doesn't play well with others . . . especially when the others are a bunch of idiots like this year's group. Compare him to the erudite Richard Hatch, who would have known exactly what mercurial meant -- but would have known not to use it.
    There is no reason in the world not to use the word mercurial. It is not at all unusual, and furthermore using only language that can be understood by a Kat does a disservice in both assuming that one's listener is of subnormal intellect and limited curiosity, and in perpetuating the ineffective educational standards that lead to paltry vocabularies in the first place.
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  3. #23
    Organizing my sock drawer RBmumsie's Avatar
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    Re: Mercurial: tell me what it means

    "Callipygian" - Love it! And, trust me, I WILL find a way to work it into conversation this week. I'm wondering how many people will understand it vs the people who are brave enough to ask what it means?

    And, Rattus, I agree that mercurial isn't that unusual of a word. But, I don't remember hearing it used in casual conversation before, at least not in the past few years. I think most people would go with "volatile" as being more expressive. JMHO.
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  4. #24
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    Re: Mercurial: tell me what it means

    I meant that Richard Hatch would have known not to use it ON SURVIVOR, where you don't want to do anything to mark yourself as smarter, stronger, faster, whatever.

  5. #25
    Wild thang Rattus's Avatar
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    Re: Mercurial: tell me what it means

    Quote Originally Posted by RBmumsie View Post
    And, Rattus, I agree that mercurial isn't that unusual of a word. But, I don't remember hearing it used in casual conversation before, at least not in the past few years. I think most people would go with "volatile" as being more expressive. JMHO.
    I use it with some regularity. I tend to use mercurial to describe a lack of focus, where I would use volatile to describe emotional instability.
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  6. #26
    FORT Fogey
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    Re: Mercurial: tell me what it means

    Quote Originally Posted by judibug View Post
    Having been a high school English teacher, a newspaper editor, and (God help me) a proofreader of American Heritage dictionaries, I just have to weigh in on this thread. I actually stumble sometimes in conversation because I'm looking for a one-syllable word when there's a perfectly appropriate polysyllabic word screaming to come out of my mouth. It's not so much that I want to dumb things down for the Kats of the world, I just fear that I will be seen as pretentious. When I do use the lesser known word, I then paraphrase as others have suggested, but then I'm afraid that will make the listener feel stupid as well, since I had to explain it.

    I think Tarzan's problem is his lack of social skills. He's highly educated and well read, but he doesn't play well with others . . . especially when the others are a bunch of idiots like this year's group. Compare him to the erudite Richard Hatch, who would have known exactly what mercurial meant -- but would have known not to use it.

    And now for those who have whetted your appetite for an extended vocabulary, I give you the most unusual word that I ran across in my years as a dictionary proofreader: callipygian. Look it up.
    I looked it up but all my dictionary had was a picture of Kim Kardashian walking away.
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  7. #27
    Teach your children Uncle David's Avatar
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    Re: Mercurial: tell me what it means

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexxxx View Post
    I looked it up but all my dictionary had was a picture of Kim Kardashian walking away.
    I love visual aids!
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    The funniest thing about this particular signature is that by the time you realise it doesn't say anything it's too late to stop reading it.

  8. #28
    Organizing my sock drawer RBmumsie's Avatar
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    Re: Mercurial: tell me what it means

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexxxx View Post
    I looked it up but all my dictionary had was a picture of Kim Kardashian walking away.
    Which dictionary did you use? Mine showed J.Lo!
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  9. #29
    FORT Fogey TripleGemini's Avatar
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    Re: Mercurial: tell me what it means

    I'm in technical communication, and I'm an accessibility advocate. Two of our big mantras are "know your audience" (which is what I thought of when Uncle David mentioned "True dat" and "I concur") and "use the best word" (which is what I thought of when I read judibug's post).

    I find that I tend to go really polysyllabic when I'm tired. Even my writing changes! But otherwise, it depends on the conversation I'm having and who I'm having it with. TechComm and accessibility best practices say to strive for 5th-7th grade reading levels, unless you know you're writing for a specialized audience with a more advanced vocabulary. But in general, I agree with Rattus...people using new words is how we learn.

    I would expect Tarzan to have a wider vocabulary than Kat (especially after the appendix thing last week). To me, what matters is that we're actually discussing "mercurial" (and "callipygian" ;-) ).
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  10. #30
    8/2/64 until forever! AZChristian's Avatar
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    Re: Mercurial: tell me what it means

    Quote Originally Posted by TripleGemini View Post
    I would expect Tarzan to have a wider vocabulary than Kat (especially after the appendix thing last week).
    I've just been checking FoRT during commercials on The Celebrity Apprentice, so have been reading through quickly. When I first read this, I thought - WOW, I realize her vocabulary is limited, but even Kat seems to know more words than, "Me Tarzan, you Jane, that Boy." Then I realized you meant the current Tarzan on Survivor.

    Gotta pay closer attention.
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