I’m in the club . . . now what ?

This week something monumental happened. My request to join the LinkedIn group “Word Nerds” was accepted. (And there was much rejoicing!) I am now part of a group of like-minded people who share my appreciation for the power and subtlety of words

Unfortunately — now that I’m in the club — I’m a little disappointed. They let me in, but how did they verify that I was worthy of membership? No one called to ask if I knew the difference between comprise and compose. No email was sent asking me to define a back formation. Didn’t a secret membership committee meet? What if they just want to use their LinkedIn group as a venue to discuss Weight Watchers and complain about their spouses?

I’m particularly sensitive to faux clubs. I was once cajoled into joining a book club where the members spent the meetings complaining about their lives. I was absolutely stupefied when I discovered they had no interest in actually reading the books. I remember sitting in my living room, my mouth agape, my eyes wide, thinking “So you don’t want to discuss symbolism in Tess of the Durbervilles?” What little innocence I had was lost that day . . .  lost, never to return.

But I digress.

My acceptance into the LinkedIn “Word Nerd” group has led me to think about forming my own “word nerd” club. But mine would be “country club” exclusive.  Potential members would have to prove their word-nerd worthiness. Here are my requirements for membership. Faux word nerds need not apply.

1. Can you appropriately use “fewer” and “less”?
(Hint: Use “fewer” with a number of individual persons or things and “less” for volume, mass, or quantity.)

2. Do you know the difference between “nauseated” and “nauseous”?
(Hint: To be “nauseous” is to cause nausea. To be “nauseated” is to become ill.)

3. Have you ever used “impact” as a verb?
The Oxford English Dictionary cites “impact” as a verb in the non-literal sense — “to have a pronounced effect on” — back to 1935.)

4. Is it grammatically correct to end a sentence with a preposition?
(Hint: “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.”)

5. Do you know what pleonasm is?
(Hint: The use of more words than those necessary to express an idea.)

6. Do you know the difference between “utilize” and “use”?
(Hint: “Use” is almost always preferable to utilize, which specifically means “to find a profitable or practical use for,” suggesting the discovery of a new use for something.)

7. And the membership make-it or break-it question: Do you recognize the Oxford English Dictionary as the definitive dictionary of the English language? (Automatic admission is granted to anyone with the OED iPhone app.

Those who don’t pass the test would be given the chance to earn an “associate membership” by writing a short essay about the proper use of “who” and “whom”; thus allowing me to be selective, but not overly-exclusive with admissions.

So, word nerds of the world unite. Form your own groups. Develop membership requirements. Connect with others who won’t make fun of you for insisting that nouns shouldn’t be used as verbs. And if you need to spend some meeting time complaining about your spouse, that is something up with which we will not put.

One Response to “I’m in the club . . . now what ?”

  1. A reader says:

    I am much impacted with your word-nerdiness and would love to utilize your wordy self for my own self-serving desires. I dream of noun/verb rules.
    I love the blog! And, I’ve already learned more than I did in the 3rd grade.
    Alas, I cannot distinguish between ‘whom’ and ‘who’. I could have looked in my Oxford (!) dictionary but decided that such cheating was quite tacky. I have a Webster iPhone app. I have passed nerdiness and have ventured into archaic.
    I would like to apply for ‘associate needing mentoring’ membership. I really do love large words. Let’s have a word-off–we’ll go through the alphabet and we must use strange word through all of the letters. Whoever has the most esoteric words must buy the other a libation of their choice.
    I can only comment on ‘rare’ and ‘scarce’. For something to be rare, there must be a limited number or supply of said thing. For something to be scarce, this means that the number or supply could be great but there is an obstacle to locating.
    Your blog is rare and my memory of all things wordish is scarce…
    Great blog…please keep it up.