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mercredi 5 janvier 2011

Washington Post Word Contest (Part 1)

Le présent article a été rédigé par Jonathan Goldberg, que je remercie. Une traduction en français sera publiée prochainement sur ce blog.

Every week the Washington Post invites readers to participate in its “Change a Letter, Change a Lot” contest. The idea is to take an existing word, change one letter or add one letter and give the word an entirely new meaning. Here are three entries that have appeared in the Washington Post, with my own explanations added:

1. Cashtration : The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time

The word “castration” usually refers to the procedure of removing a man’s testes -- a procedure that stops most of the production of the male hormone, testosterone, resulting in impotence. In this case, the letter “h” has been added to the word “castration” to create cashtration. The new definition suggested creates the concept of becoming financially impotent when buying a house (presumably because of the costs of paying off the mortgage over a long period.)

2. Ignoranus : A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.

Although the literal meaning of asshole is a familiar form of the medical term anus, or rectum orifice, it is commonly used in American slang as a pejorative way of describing a person. (Once considered very vulgar, it has become an accepted term of speech in fairly wide circles.)  The word “ignoramus” (from the Latin “we do not know”) is not vulgar and is used simply to describe an ignorant person. The two words have been merged here to create ignoranus, thereby creating a vulgar variation of ignoramus.

3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

Intoxication is a state of being drunk, which sometimes creates a state of euphoria. Here the word has been changed to intaxication. The definition of this new word combines the idea of taxes with the idea of euphoria or intoxication.  It humorously suggests that although receiving a tax refund may induce in you a state of euphoria, that state is short-lived, because you soon realize that you have received nothing more than money you paid in the first place.

Caveat: Cashtration, ignoranus and intaxication do not exist in English and have been invented only for the purpose of this contest.

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