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Thursday, February 05, 2015

The Other "N" Words

This post isn't about what you think it's about if you didn't pay close attention.  It is totally not about THE "N" word, so if that's what you're looking for, move along.  This isn't the post you're looking for, move along.

Instead, it's about trying to make an acronym.  Horyon asked me to come up with an acronym for her school, Dongsung High School.  These were the best I could do (with my alternates in parentheses):

D edicated
O ngoing
N ever  (Neat)
G ive up (Great/Giving)
S trong
U nstoppable (Ultimate)
N onesuch 
G enerous

Which letters are the trouble makers?  I'm sure you can see it just looking at what I've done.  Go ahead and think about some positive words that start with N.  I'm willing to bet right now that you can only come up with two, and they are not stand-up-and-cheer positive.

Go on.  Think about it.  Adjectives starting with N that mean good things.

You probably came up with one that means well organized, or not sloppy.  Isn't that neat?  The other is such a hazy word that it is barely a step up from "good" itself, the fall-back for when we really don't have a sincere compliment ready to go.  It's right there in one of my favorite lyrics from the musical Into The Woods: (the song is "Last Midnight")

You're so nice.
You're not good,
you're not bad,
you're just nice.
I'm not good,
I'm not nice,
I'm just right.

"You're not good, you're not bad, you're just the chorus.  Now stay back there while I sing."
I don't want to go all hipster on you, but I haven't seen the movie yet.  These lyrics have been in my head since seeing a stage production starring Bernadette Peters around 1992.  Asked my girlfriend to buy the Broadway Cast recording for me for Christmas.  So yeah, I was a fan before it was cool.  It is cool now, isn't it?  If not, it should be, and I despise you for not loving it intensely.

Anyway, I have been guilty in the past of overusing the word "nice".  When I visited England for Andy and Sarah's wedding I was so overwhelmed by how good the beer tasted that I gave up trying to find new adjectives, and settled for "nice."  Oh, frivolous youth.  If I knew then what I know now I'd know more in the new now than I now know in this now.  I think.

Back to my assignment: I found that the other letters were relatively easy.  "O" was a bit tough, but not as bad as having two "N"s to deal with.  I mean, look at the words that come to mind:

Nay.  (which actually means "okay" in Korean, so double confusion)

And a host of "non-" words, from nonentity to nonpareil.  Which on the one hand means unrivaled, but on the other means the little round chocolate candies with sprinkles on top.  Those used to be my favorites at weddings and church dinners.  An excess of chocolate colors, though almost never brown, brightly colored sprinkles that now suggest to me an excess of artificial coloring, and minimal parental supervision, allowing the consumption of a no doubt unhealthy excess of the tasty little circles.  They were like the secret love child of a Hershey's Kiss and a bag of Skittles.  I couldn't take a chance that my wife's school would forever be associated with this!
Our school is sweet and diverse, but it melts in the summer.

I know.  I know.  The fault very likely lies more within my imagination than with the word itself.

I tried in vain to flip through my Kindle dictionary (the first time I have wished for a paper book in some time, and I am embarrassed to admit that I haven't had a paper dictionary in my home since we moved back to Korea in 2011!).  Then I tried browsing through online dictionaries.  They are mostly not conducive to browsing. though I did eventually find a browsable dictionary (don't get mad, bro, but it's Your Dictionary!).  Of course, I had already completed my assignment, but by now you can tell that I was not ready to let go of this one.  So I hit the Ns.

I kept finding words that were either negative or nonsensical.  Of course, positive was nonnegotiable.  I could have gone with Nonogonal, but I'm not convinced that their school actually has nine sides.
I have nine sides, and it ain't so bad!
I also decided that if I had to come up with nine metaphorical sides for the school that the potential complexity of this acronym would end up well beyond my pay grade.

Which, in case you were wondering, is zero.  I am not getting paid for this, other than appreciation from my wife, which is simultaneously priceless and lacking purchasing power.

I would have gone with Nether, but I didn't want to let them down.  I could have used Nautiloid, but didn't want to be shellfish.  In hindsight, I should have used Ninja: they never would have seen that coming.

I thought about Newtonian, but quickly realized that I knew exactly what reaction I would get.  I considered Neighborly, but that reminded me that Fred Rogers in no longer with us.  I changed my shoes, put on a cardigan, and had a good cry.  (Seriously, don't Google the man unless you have time for a little mourning, though you will come out the other side feeling uplifted.)

They are too big for Nano, too small for National, too cool for Nervous, and too awake for Narcoleptic.

Nauseous?  Don't make me sick.

Nihilistic?  Fine, let's throw the whole thing out.

Noteworthy?  Hmm... let me write that down.

Nobody?  Well, your Nobody called today.  She hung up when I asked her name.

Noisy?  She wanted positive, not accurate.

You can see my dilemma.  I actually found a useful site that collects positive personality traits.  I highly recommend it if you are having trouble describing someone.  I sent this link to Horyon along with my suggestion, and she ended up using that resource to go in a completely different direction.

Good for her, and for Dongsung High School.  May they Never Need 'Nother Nagging acronym!

For me it was a fun exercise.  It exposed me to some fun words, and cemented "Nonesuch" into my vocabulary.  It means a person who is regarded as perfect.  I know, I know, how could this word not have entered my vocabulary before this time?

I'll let you know the next time Horyon gives me homework.  She will no doubt be thrilled to see how much work I put into it.  And this post.

Never mind.

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A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.