‘Inchoate’? It’s not yet completed

Published by reposted only Date posted on July 18, 2010

If you don’t know the meaning of the word “inchoate,” you join many readers of The New York Times (NYT) who have looked up the word and many others in the NYT’s website built-in American Heritage dictionary. According to a feature published in The Daily Tribune (source not mentioned) “inchoate,” “profligacy,” “sui generis” and “austerity” topped the latest words published by The Times. The list is a yearly undertaking.

A profligate (extravagant) government is wasteful and a cure to that is austerity (simplicity and lack of luxuries).You may also say that many programs of President Noynoy Aquino 3rd are “inchoate.”

But the next word, “baldenfreude,” in The Times list may be considered “sui generis”(unique). A columnist used the nonexistent word in an article, puzzling readers.

“Baldenfreude” sounds German, but more recognizable is “schadenfreude,” the joy a person feels because of someone else’s misfortune.

For example, the enemies of Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez must be heady with schadenfreude over criticisms that the Customs collector allegedly cheated on his golf score and must therefore be disqualified by Noynoy.

Also on the list of most frequently searched words were “opprobrium”(strong public disapproval brought on one by his own action), “apostate” (someone who abandoned his religious faith), “solipsistic,”(the idea that the self is the only reality) and “obduracy” (refusal to change one’s mind about something), followed by “internecine” (conflict between opposing groups in the same country or organization), “soporific”(something that makes you feel sleepy), “kristalnacht,” “peripatetic”(traveling from place to place), and “nascent”(things or processes that are just beginning and are expected to grow stronger).

“Inchoate,” which means still being formed, was used in 13 news articles and seven op-ed pieces or editorials between January 1 and May 26 this year and was looked up 8,172 times, the feature said.

Should The Times ban the words for overuse or for being abstruse (not understandable) to many readers? Philip Corbett, The New York Times managing editor for standards, said: “I don’t suggest banning any of them. In some cases, they may be the perfect choice, and we refuse to talk down to readers and dumb down our prose.”

In the newspaper business, having an editorial ombudsman for standards to look after the language of news articles and to attend to readers’ grievances is worth considering.

The Manila Times has begun by banning words like “solon” (for congressmen and senators) and “erring” (for miscreant or disobedient). We’re still guilty of overusing “slam” and “undergo.”

But we have space for “inchoate” and “obduracy.” We don’t consider them soporific but nascent.

Adopt a wild animal . . . or a cow

Let’s stop eating “bayawak” (wild lizard) steak and “tapang usa” (venison) and help the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Adopt a Wildlife Program.

The program comes from DENR Secretary Ramon Paje, who gets our endorsement for confirmation by the Commission on Appointments.

To launch the program, the DENR released a list of more than a thousand native species facing extinction.
The species—which include 86 mammals, 27 reptiles, 21 insects, 53 amphibians, 137 birds and 873 plants—are eligible for adoption, Secretary Paje said.

Prominent in the list are the tamaraw (found only in Mindoro) the flowering waling-waling plant (native to Mindanao) the Philippine eagle, baboy damo (wild boar), tuko (gecko), fireflies, pawikan (turtles) toads and frogs and rare crocodile species.

Financial contributions to specific conservation projects will help. Personal participation in special activities—such as research work, monitoring, habitat restoration, information dissemination and reporting violations of the wildlife protection act—are meaningful acts of adoption, the department said.

How about adopting a gecko and keeping it at home, which former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has done? The reptile feasts on flies and keeps the house clean, she told the press several months ago.

We don’t think it’s such a good idea. Wildlife species belong to the forests, seas and mountains. We know a gentle soul who buys caged birds from time to time and, after leaving the marketplace, releases the birds but keeps the cages for décor at home.

The best thing is not to hunt wild animals, admire butterflies from a distance and step around frogs when they cross your path. Boycott restaurants that offer shark’s fin soup or wild turtle meat.

The rewards for adoption are feeling good, the reassurance that you’re promoting the cycle of life and a Certificate of Adoption from the DENR that entitles a participant to tax incentives.

Meanwhile, the Agence France-Presse has reported that an increasing number of Swiss urbanites are adopting cows for a taste of rustic life.

Clients consult a website for a catalogue showcasing about 20 breeds. For the equivalent of $350, they can reserve a cow for a season, visiting the animal as often as they wish.

Instead of going to the beach for their vacations, the Swiss spend time in the mountains with their cows.

The project offers city folks a chance “to compare the stressed-out world of the cities and the hard lives in the mountains,” the man who created the program said.

It’s hard indeed when you are required to work hours on the farm, rounding up the herd, cutting firewood, preparing cheese and milking the animals.

Our resident dairy expert is thinking of a similar project in Batangas, offering goats instead of cows. Goats can be tough and challenging, he says. They make good pets. But don’t get their goat or you’ll get a nasty butt. –manila Times

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