In our hotel, I took a shower and saw that on the shower knob, in between Hot and Cold was the word “Tepid,” and that was enough to make me consider emigration. The engineer who designed that knob loved the language. It is the richest language in widespread use today, and “tepid” is a useful and lovely word. An American engineer would regard this as pointless — logic tells you that in between Hot and Cold is something in-between, lukewarm or moderate or room- temperature, lackadaisical, halfhearted, nondescript, whatever — and the use of “tepid” would be effete and elitist and unmanly and cause other engineers to avoid you in the cafeteria. Best to just use H and C. Or a red dot and a blue dot. A country where engineers are fond of language is a country I could be happy in, never mind politics.

Garrison Keillor today’s Washinton Post.

Surely there’s time in our Word of the Day session or our Grammarian’s report to take pleasure in the joys of language used carefully and well.


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