Sunday, March 28, 2010

A guest post from Craig Conley

Craig is author of a number of strange and unusual reference books that revel in the oddities of and possibilities for our language. You can view many of them here.

He wrote this guest post for us, and we liked found it to be "expecially" charming.
Jeff Stone* is perfectly correct in colorfully noting that "there's no freakin' X in the word 'especially.'" Yet we can't help fondly remembering those centuries when the word "expecial" meant "singular" or "exceptional," as in the context of accessories designed "to meet the expecial needs of the physician" (BROOKLYN MEDICAL JOURNAL, Vol. 8, 1894) or European colonists in the Potomac being advised not to expose themselves to the danger of the Tuscarora War of 1711 "without expecial necessity" (James Rice, NATURE AND HISTORY IN THE POTOMAC COUNTRY, 2009).

Our favorite context for the word "expecial" is, of course, the world of algebra! Back in 1919, a textbook entitled FIRST COURSE IN ALGEBRA embodied "an expecial effort to connect the elements of algebra in a clear and forcible manner with the affairs of every-day life." If any field is qualified to put an X in "especially," it's algebra!


Stan said...

Glad you axed Jeff to post - it is a good one!

The Ask Murderer

Martha Brockenbrough said...

Stan, nicely played!

Unknown said...

Wow - My Magic Post made it to an official grammar site. Sweet.

Nothing is more annoying than a person who can't speak his own language. Grrrrrrr.

Thanks for a groovy site.