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A great vocabulary word for 1980's cars!


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Writers enjoy expanding their horizons and learning more.

In writing about my father's 1981 Buick for our newsletter,

I wanted a perfect descriptive word for the under-powered

1980's cars.

A word which I never used then jumped right into thought: "PALLIATED."

Having received the inspiration, I looked it up in Merriam-Webster's

Collegiate Dictionary. Its compound meaning couldn't be better:

"To moderate the intensity of; to cover by excuses and apologies."

So the sentence in the article read,

"Any boy that approaches the driving age finds himself increasingly

car-conscious; and with convertibles no longer in production,

I gravitated to the bigger, more comfortable highway-loving cars,

paying little attention to the compacts or that era's palliated sports models."

If a reader didn't know the word, he could understand it from its context;

and if anyone looked it up, he gained a new, useful word finely tailored

to describing cars of the 1980's.

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Good word! Same root as "palliative" as in "palliative care" which aims to moderate the intensity of terminal illnesses. I lost a good friend by remarking that Chrysler deserved to go bankrupt after building a pos like the early 80's K car my wife was driving at the time.

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A word which I never used then jumped right into thought: "PALLIATED."

....

In my experience John, using overcomplicated words just zones many people out. Personally I just skip over them. I'm lucky to even have time to read articles now, much less look up the meaning of words.

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Life is full and rich, always achieving more, doing more and better things!

Those who don't want to look up words, can get some understanding by the context;

but read good writing, the classics, or even The Wall Street Journal or

The New York Times Book Review, and your mind will be challenged to think!

At what age do people stop learning and say, "What I know at this point is enough?" 18, 22, 50?

Notice that if we coast, we can only go downhill, or else we come to a stop.

Some Chevy people might never be interested in reading beyond Chevrolets;

but when they start reading about Hudsons, and Nashes, and the Packard story,

they see a broader, more interesting hobby. So it is with English, and music,

and engine rebuilding, and every aspect of life.

It's a wide, wide world out there, and we might as well grasp as much of it as we can.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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In my experience John, using overcomplicated words just zones many people out. Personally I just skip over them. I'm lucky to even have time to read articles now, much less look up the meaning of words.

I tend to agree with John. The whole paragraph is easy to read, and at the very end he throws in one rarely used word which is relatively easy to decipher given the context. It's not like the whole paragraph was full of words that would lead you to believe the writer was looking down their nose at you.

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In my experience John, using overcomplicated words just zones many people out. Personally I just skip over them. I'm lucky to even have time to read articles now, much less look up the meaning of words.

I agree. It is always best to eschew obfuscation wherever possible.

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Ah, good to see some enthusiasm in the Newsletter part of the forum!

We had gone about a month without a single posting.

How much of our great English language have we forgotten--or never used?

Here are a few words I remember learning in school in CHILDHOOD:

[seventh grade] indomitable--unconquerable

[seventh grade] reverence--respect mixed with awe

[seventh? grade] indefatigable--incapable of fatigue; untiring

[Tenth grade] abjure--reject, renounce under oath

[Tenth grade] adjure--command under oath; urge earnestly

[Tenth grade] saturnine--gloomy, surly, sullen

[Tenth grade] chary--wary

[Eleventh grade] soporific--inducing sleep

Obviously, some things we learn but fail to retain. I see from

my 8th grade papers that I once knew how to distinguish between

an Elizabethan and a Petrarchan sonnet. Let's challenge ourselves to grow!

(And by the way, my career is in a technical field and has nothing to do with English!)

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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I was fascinated with books and learning at a very early age, being from a family that had not produced a college grad in who knows how many generations. I used to collect and study the "It Pays To Increase Your Word Power" columns from the Reader's Digest. Served me well when it came time for College Boards and later GREs. Yea I was (am?) a nerd.

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Yes, I remember those Reader's Digest columns,

and I still have a lot of old issues, dating back even

to the 1920's. They also had a column, "Toward More

Picturesque Speech."

It used to be a very insightful and educational magazine.

For example, one article, The Revolution of Nihilism: Warning

to the West" (November 1939) warned the world of Hitler's aims,

told how he would make treaties for convenience with no intention

of honoring them, and told his plans to invade specific European

countries. What foresight--and if only the world had listened then!

Reader's Digest at that time had no diets, fads, and ads.

It's no wonder they once had columns on vocabulary and English writing.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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That word definition is perfect.

reminded me of a 1983 or 4 Cadillac Fleetwood with the "fire breathing" 4100.

the customers original concern was a knock in the engine , so we replaced it under warranty( the campaign to replace just the main thrust bearing hadn't come out yet).

as i am working on the engine replacement the owner comes back in the shop and asks me if there is anything I can do about the lack of power, he say he has owned other Cadillacs but this one is a dog.

i told him about all I could do is bump the timing up a couple of degrees, so i did.

a week later he comes back and tells me that It makes a little more power but now it spark knocks and he doesn't want to buy high octane.

so I set his timing back to spec.

performance was sad in the early 80s!!

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First Born, tell your wife that this is the newsletter editors'

section of the forum! Isn't it great that there are so many good

automotive writers in our hobby?

Of course, everyone's welcome to participate.

And by the way, "eschew obfuscation" is an old joke meant to be humorous.

It is, and thanks for sharing it.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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Work need not be dull and doleful.

People who enjoy their work, and have a sense of humor,

sometimes insert hidden surprises. For example, an artist

may insert a small hidden feature in his artwork.

Writers can do the same.

Suppose you were writing about your experience with the compact cars

of the decade being discussed. With a twinkle in your eye, you could write:

"Yes, we had a Volkswagen diesel in the 1980's. The kids loved it, but to me,

it was a noisy, smelly, lagomorphic laggard."

Just as many people might not notice the hidden gem in the painting,

the average reader might skip right over the "lagomorphic" term. But finding out

the term brings an added dimension to the writing.

(Look it up if you wish. I don't want to spoil your fun of figuring it out for yourself.)

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And by the way, a "lagomorphic laggard" would be a slow Rabbit.

Lagomorphic means "relating to rabbits and hares," and an

Apperson Jackrabbit (if you've ever seen one) would be lagomorphic too.

As long as we're writing about writing--are there any other interesting words

relating to cars that come to mind?

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Bob, I like the tongue-in-cheek "Monet" car description! I could

understand it even though I don't follow art.

Thanks, Restorer32, too. Can you use that in a sentence

so we see how you are thinking of using it? It's interesting

that the Greek origin of "stoichiometric" involves "to walk, to go."

Here's a perfect word for a 1930's Classic or some other beautiful car:

"With its graceful, flowing lines, the Auburn speedster showed a great concinnity of form."

Concinnity--harmony or elegance of design, in adaptation of parts to a whole

or to each other. Its Latin root means "skillfully put together." (The word is

used most commonly describing literary works.)

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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Potential customer to restoration shop owner; "I would like you to adjust my carb and timing to as close to a stoichiometric condition as possible". I used to get great pleasure from wandering thru the OED (the 2 volume, virtually microscopic version).

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In my experience John, using overcomplicated words just zones many people out. Personally I just skip over them. I'm lucky to even have time to read articles now, much less look up the meaning of words.

Agree completely.

One of the mentors of my youth spoke (if I correctly recall) 14 languages fluently, and had several PHd's to his credit; and yet his normal speech, while always grammatically correct, was about that of a high school senior. His reasoning - "if the listener does not understand what I said, then I wasted my breath".

I have enough trouble with customers who don't understand the six letter word "octane"; whether it be MON, RON, or AKI. ;)

Jon.

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Potential customer to restoration shop owner; "I would like you to adjust my carb and timing to as close to a stoichiometric condition as possible". I used to get great pleasure from wandering thru the OED (the 2 volume, virtually microscopic version).

Would that be stoichiometric for gasoline or E-10? ;) And at what altitude do you normally drive?

Jon.

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One person told me that the average newspaper is

written to an 8th grade reading level. I can't vouch

for that, however.

So high-school vocabulary is 4 grades above the

common newspaper! It's clear that some of the top newspapers

include vocabulary well above the 8th grade level. Classical

literature, too, can be appreciated even if there's an occasional word

which one doesn't immediately know.

And I would say that spoken English, to which Mr. Carbking's

friend referred, is usually more informal than good written English.

Good written English, for example, doesn't use slang or contractions.

I hope no one would imply that some English words should

never be written, simply because someone might not understand them.

Such a practice would take writing down to the level of the least

knowledgeable person, and would become a downward spiral.

I certainly don't know all the fine points of classical music.

Should it rarely be played, because I don't appreciate all its nuances?

Or would it be better to expose me to classical music and

teach me its higher meaning?

Life should be about ELEVATING ourselves and others--never

pretentiously, but with zest. And these writings are with zest!

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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John - I was not implying that some words should never be used; rather that, articles (or conversation) should be at a comfort level for both parties, or, tailor the article to the intended reader. If you are doing an article for some PHd candidates, the infrequently used words might be appropriate. Personally, when I read an article, either technical or historical, in an automotive magazine (or website), I am interested in learning about the content of the article. And especially, if the article is about a topic in my field, that the information contained is accurate. One common example that is annoying is someone referring to a "Stromberg 94 carburetor". Should you be unaware, Stromberg produced a carburetor incorrectly referred to an the Stromberg 97 (it is actually a model EE-1); and Holley produced the carburetor incorrectly referred to as the model 94 (it is actually a model AA-1). So a "Stromberg 94" is incorrect on two counts. Accuracy in our writings not only aids the present generation; but relieves confusion to future generations.

And no offense was intended by my previous or present comments.

Jon.

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John - something I would personally like to see, would be someone with the time to do so, to produce a list of common words of interest to automobile enthusiasts; and arrive at a consenual meaning for these words. Some words are used by many (or all), but sometimes the understanding is less than accurate.

Being from the midwest, Will Rogers was one of my favorite entertainers. I will not try the exact quotation, but he once said something to the effect that what we know that is incorrect hurts us more than what we don't know.

One automotive word that immediately comes to mind is octane. I would venture a guess that as many as 50 percent of those reading these forums are using the wrong octane in their older vehicles, and simply wasting money (or worse). Here is a link to my website that attempts to explain, in non-technical terms, octane:

http://www.thecarburetorshop.com/Octane.htm

I personally believe if some one with writing skills were to pursue this project, they would find lots of help from members of this forum. There are some incredibly sharp individuals that lurk here!

Jon.

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I opened today's Wall Street Journal and share some

less common vocabulary used in just ONE single article:

xenophilia; xenophilic; xenophobic; expiated; misogyny.

Another time, I laughed when they used the verb "defenestrate"

in a tongue-and-cheek manner. It means "to throw out the window."

That newspaper is read from anyone from family men to

foreign prime ministers, and it shows how some better

publications go beyond 8th grade reading. And there are

some good vocabulary words that we can enjoy, though it

might be hard to apply those particular words to automotive subjects.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Sorry, but I would argue that someone who was not of driving age in the 1980s would not be able to determine the meaning from the context.  We all get it because we're all familiar with those deep, dark days of 180 HP Corvettes and similar cars.  My son, born in 1986, would not.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My cousin, a junior in high school, took his SAT

(Scholastic Aptitude Test) this year.  Knowing

good English, possessing a wide vocabulary, and

having the ability to express ideas in writing, are

necessities for an outstanding score.

 

Learning can be fun, but I hope no student would

ever laugh at the prospect of increasing his knowledge!

Even subjects he thinks he'll never use broaden his mind.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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