On Perusing a Dictionary of Modern English Usage as It Pertains to Suffering

Deferring to the OED, Fowler’s* tells us not
To spell “inure” as “enure” for variant
Spellings are not needed; even if “inure”
Has two meanings, it is still only one word.
But who ever heard of “inure” relating to
Anything but some form of suffering?

Something quite beautiful and useful
Might well be put “in ure,” which just
Means we like this well enough to
Make a habit of it, and that cheers
Me up a little, as I had become inured
To “drudgery and distress” (Fowler’s
Example) and need reasons for joy.

You are thinking the primary usage
Became the primary usage because
The world has more misery than
Benefit, but maybe it is the other way
Around. Maybe language defines
Reality after all. If we had inured
All the good things all along,
Maybe we’d be in a better place.

If contemplating stuffy usage guides
Had inured, perhaps I wouldn’t have
Missed so many opportunities to be
Cheerful, to glide blissfully through
A life of Best Practices. Instead, I grew
Inured to heartbreak and dreary poets
Clamoring on about their lost loves.

*Fowler’s Modern English Usage, by H. W. Fowler, a handbook for pedants and arrogant copywriters.


◄ Poetry and the Cross-Pollination of Artistic Platforms

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Randy Horton

Fri 26th Apr 2019 16:59

I really enjoy discussing how language is used differently at different times and different places. I'm always baffled as to why one way or another would be considered "correct" usage.

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M.C. Newberry

Thu 25th Apr 2019 13:42

Interesting stuff, to be sure. I have a copy of "Usage And Abusage - A Guide To Good English" by Eric Fowler which first appeared in
the United States in 1942. In his Forward, the author mentions -
"To be fit for American publication, Professor W. Cabell Green
extensively annotated the work". On a purely personal level, I was
privileged to know the late William Benzie, author of a biography
about the founder of the Oxford English Dictionary. It intrigued me
that an Aberdonian living and teaching In Canada should write such
a work. I suppose that such a flexible language as English will
always be a subject for discussion - and long may it be so.

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Randy Horton

Thu 25th Apr 2019 06:23

Thanks for the comment. Of course, it's a little more complicated than that. ? http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20180207-how-americans-preserved-british-english

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M.C. Newberry

Wed 24th Apr 2019 15:38

I'm reminded of Alan Jay Lerner's wry lines given to Henry Higgins
about the correct use of English in his music masterpiece "My Fair Lady":
"They even are places where English completely disappears
In America they haven't used it for years." ?

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