Saturday, May 12, 2012


Every so often, Li'l Language Lady is wrong (and I'm not talking about the controversial way she spells "little").

The last time this happened was several months ago. I've been so humiliated by my failure that I haven't been able to talk about it until now. Please be patient; this could be difficult for me.

It all began one pleasant morning in February, when I attended a webinar in which the presenter – twice – said the word "problematical." Well, I put on my Condescending Cap, thinking to myself the clever way I would address this crime in my blog: "The only thing problematical about this is it isn't actually a word! The proper adjective form of the noun problem is problematic."

It's a good thing I consulted a dictionary before spewing my ignorant bombast all over the Internet (by the way, have we reached the point where we don't have to capitalize that word yet?), because and Webster both confirmed that "problematical" is a synonym of "problematic."

But if this is the case, then I must wonder (after I exhume my face from my hands), how many suffixes can we add to a word before it stops being a real word? Why are -ic and -ical semantically identical? If I use enough grandiloquent words, can I redeem myself for wrongfully taking on airs?

At another time, I might research the answers to those questions, but today, I shall just leave you with this open end.