Sunday, April 1, 2012

An Idiotic Joke of a Word

Have I ever mentioned that I don’t like April Fools’ Day? I don’t, and it’s not because I consider myself some sort of expert prankster who just can’t be topped so don’t even try and sunglasses and “screw you, teach!” and then skateboard flawlessly out the classroom door. No, it’s just that a majority of my brain energies are spent on constructing “It would be funny if”-type situations, and when I hear a lot of people’s ideas about zany pranks that they think will delight and amaze, I realize that they’re forging into this territory for the first time. So, as I also do on New Year’s Eve and the feast of St. Agapanthus, I sit this one out.

In fact, this is as close as I’m going to get to any sort of participation in this holiday: a terrible world that I personally hate and that I only know exists because Words With Friends let someone play it against me.
phpht (ffft) — interjection: an expression of mild annoyance or disagreement.
Phpht was not a word I used when it was played against me for a considerable score. No, I gave a fairly deadpan, “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding,” because the same app that told me grunty wasn’t a word was perfectly happy to accept phpht, which is apparently a nonstandard variant of pht, which in turn is how a stupid person might represent the angry, breathy noise of protest that would otherwise be represented as ffft. “How is the pig?” “Oh, you know, the usual — pink and grunty.” I see nothing wrong with that sentence. But were the sentence “I used the word phpht, which doesn’t even need a vowel, against Drew in a game of Words With Friends, and it totally got more points than Drew got with crux,” then I would, in fact, have a problem that no amount of exasperated ventilation could solve. It would be the umiaq debacle all over again.

Lest I sound like I’m dumping on the players who utilize all the possibilities in the Words With Friends dictionary, I should probably also admit that I used the word edh against my friend Mollie, and she had every reason to ask me exactly how edh is a word. I quickly explained that it’s an alternate spelling of eth, a letter used in Old English to represent the “th” sound. I did not, however, mention that I only knew about it because someone used it against me.

So see? Words With Friends is good after all. It teaches you about English language obscurities all while testing the limits of your friendships.

Previous words of the week after the jump.

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