Wednesday, December 15, 2004

World of words.

You'll notice when reading old editions of Reader's Digest that they always manage to print winning words of a Washington Post-sponsored contest, the Style Invitational.

What is the Style Invitational anyway?

It's a weekly contest where the Post asks its readers to redefine words by changing a letter of an original word, redefine words from a dictionary with no change in spelling, rewrite Post headlines and their lead sentence, things like that.

Here is an example of words of where the Post asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. (nicked from this site)

: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of obtaining sex.
: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
: A lecherous Mr. Potato Head.
Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the recipient who doesn't get it.
: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
: Terminal coolness.
: A degenerate disease.
: A poorly planned break-in. (See: Watergate)
: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like a serious bummer.
: All talk and no action.
Dopeler effect
: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
: Euphoria at getting a refund from the IRS, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
: A person who's both stupid & an... (infelicitous: American slang for co-worker)
: the resentment permanent workers feel toward the fill-in workers.
: a game of catch played by children in the living room.
: a generic skin disease.
: a spirit that decides to haunt someplace stupid, such as your septic tank.

Apparently, New York Magazine has been running a contest which is similar in vein. Readers were asked to take a well known expression in a foreign language, change a single letter and provide a definition for the new expression. Here are the winners (taken from the same website as before):

Rigor Morris. The cat is dead.
Respondez s'il vous plaid. Honk if you're Scottish.
Harlez-vous Francais? Can you drive a French motorcyle?
Veni, vipi, vici. I came, I'm a very important person, I conquered
Veni, vidi, visa. I came, I saw, I shopped.
Cogito eggo sum. I think, therefore I am...a waffle.
Que Sera Serf. Life is feudal.
Leroi est mort. Jive Leroi.
The king is dead. No kidding.
Posh mortem. Death styles of the rich and famous.
Pro bozo publico. Support your local clown.
Monage A Trois. I am three years old.
Haste cuisine. Fast French food.
Quip pro quo. A fast retort.
Aloha oy. Love; greetings; farewell; and from such a pain you should never know.
Mazel ton. Tons of luck.
Visa La France. Don't leave your chateau without it.
Carne Diem. Seize the meat.

The others I won't pretend to know, but the rest are pretty funny. Language play is universal.