Friday, July 29, 2011

The Humorfulness of Words.

So this is going to be stupid and pedantic, but I like to think about words and specifically what a mixed up melting pot of a mutt the English language is.

What is the opposite of humorless? Strictly speaking I think that it should be humormore. Or humor-more. Because the less suffix is what changes the word for humor to no humor. And the opposite of less is more. So the opposite of humorless should be humormore.

But I know that “humormore” isn’t a word. Initially I honestly thought that the opposite of humorless would be humorful, but Microsoft Word is giving me the red squiggles on that one. So I hopped on the google machine and discovered that the internet says that it is a word (and is even allowed in Scrabble).

But technically, shouldn’t the opposite of humorful be humorempty. Since humorful is a word constructed to mean “full of humor” the opposite should mean “empty of humor” because humorless is also constructed and would technically mean “having less humor” which is not the same as being empty of humor, because empty means that there is none inside, which is pretty absolute, but less is a comparison. It just means that there is not as much as there is someplace else. And that is not the same as being empty. But we all know that that is not how these words work.

A grain silo which is grain-less is understood to be empty of grain and it doesn’t need to be sitting right next to a grain silo which is full in order for us to know that.
I’m sure that I am probably understanding some of these words wrong, so if anybody knows more about these things, feel free to pipe up. Just don’t get me started on why flammable and inflammable mean the same thing.


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