Friday, June 13, 2008

The Humorous Vocabulary Builder, Take 3


A boat named alacrity.

As I sit in my spartan temporary headquarters at Dalhousie University, I can think of only one word: alacrity. Alacrity is a cheerful willingness to do something, usually manifesting itself with promptness and whatever else is associated with perky productive people.

The problem with this word is that only approximately 1% of the English speaking world will understand what the fuck you are talking about if you use it. Of course, alacrity is a great word for that very same reason. In casual conversation, most people won't be sure if you are insulting them or not, and will be unsure of themselves. If this is the effect you want to have, then great.


Unrelated to the subject at hand, but amusing, no?

As with most rare words, it is a useful way to signal to other pompous asses that you too are an educated fuckwit. This, of course, goes without saying. What doesn't go without saying is that alacrity is perfect for thanking/complimenting a coworker or client by e-mail. The reason for this is that they will see the word and look it up if they have to. My theory is that people like their compliments to be like easter eggs. It is more fun if they have to dig a little bit.

So, the next time somebody replies to an e-mail in an unexpectedly prompt manner, go ahead and tell them that you appreciate their alacrity, they may just appreciate you for it (or despise you). In fact, this is exactly how I learnt what the word meant: somebody thanking me for my alacrity, and me looking it up afterwards. I am grateful.

What pompous jerk is using this word on the web
Running a Google search reveals a number of things about alacrity. First of all, it apparently makes a good name for many companies in the communications and human resources sectors. In other words, people tend to use a Thesaurus to come up with a rare word to serve as their company name. Good for them.

Your alacrity has increased my homosexual attraction to you tenfold.

The first non-company and non-dictionary reference I found was to a poem entitled :"alacrity of the modern-day strawberry". This guy apparently enjoys strawberries because they taste like migrant workers and, really, who could blame him? I am not a poetry expert, but the imagery of a strawbery cheerfully giving itself up to be slaughtered by children brings me great joy and hilarity. This guy is a comedy genius.


Anonymous said...

i am not sure if you're putting me down or not, and either way is fine, but the line about the sweat of migrant workers was not meant as racism, just a reminder of the hard work to meet ever increasing demand. It's about unnatural processes to get these manipulated fruits in the store, on our plates. i thought alacrity (zeal, cheerfulness) fit, even if strawberries have no feelings.


Glenn (Ed. SBF) said...

It wasn't really a put down. Intentionally misinterpreting your poem is my idea of a joke.

Anonymous said...

i liked the post. Also, i thought your interpretation of the poem was funny. i often wish i could be funny. Sadly, if and when i am, it's always accidental.

Thanks for the mention. i'll be back to read more of you.