Infla​med and Disgruntled

There are many times when I feel we should just stop trying to make English make sense and just switch back to Latin. Since time immemorable to present, we’ve tried to make words work by saying that they ‘based’ on words from other languages. This generally takes the form of Latin or Greek root words, but we are far from using them consistently.

To back this claim, I provide Exhibit A: Inflammable. When broken down, this word should be simple. It starts off using ‘flame,’ then adds ‘able’ to denote that the substance can be made into flame. Now, ‘in’ is a prefix taken from the Latin that loosely means ‘not,’ so of course, this word should mean ‘can’t be burned.’ Look inflammable up in the dictionary, though, and you’ll find that it means “capable of being set on fire; combustible, flammable.” If you want to be extra sure, look up ‘flammable,’ and the dictionary will say it means “easily set on fire; combustible, inflammable.” Frustrating isn’t it? Two words that by all logic and pixie dust should be opposites are really synonyms.

Still not convinced? Well then, to Exhibit B: Disgruntled. This adjective means “displeased and discontented; sulky; peevish.” So far so good. As some of its synonyms go to show, ‘dis’ is a prefix that, much like ‘in,’ is a negative. Logically speaking then, ‘gruntled’ must mean “pleased and contented; cheerful; patient,” right? Wrong. ‘Gruntled’ is a nonsense word that only contains meaning when shoved behind ‘dis.’ I rest my case.

In conclusion, English is a language that tries to act like another language entirely, fails miserably, then expects everybody to pretend that it makes sense anyway. Switching to Latin, on the other hand, would have many benefits. Including ready access by everyone to classical thinkers, rendering the flammable study of grammar inflammable, and making me very gruntled.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s