Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Antepenultimate Blog Post

This post isn't the antepenultimate blog post, it's just a post on the topic of the antepenultimate. I plan on keeping up this blog until I keel over and die. So if my eventual death doesn't involve keeling over, maybe I'll continue the blog from my grave. But it's highly unlikely.

I admit I included the words "the," "blog," and "post" in the title only because it made the above explanation slightly more relevant.

Anyway, the post was inspired by the discussion in comments on the blog post "The Ultimate Chalupa," by Patrick Rothfuss. Logically enough, antepenultimate came up. So then I said, "I was close to ecstatic when I saw 'antepenultimate' used casually and correctly in a linguistics textbook of mine. Apparently it’s a pretty standard word for linguistics — easiest way to talk about stress or other features on the antepenultimate syllable of a word. Generally stress."

But later I was thinking about it, and okay, it's not necessarily the easiest way to say it -- for example, for someone who didn't know the word "antepenultimate," "the next-to-the-next-to-the-last" or "the third-to-the-last" would be easier. But it'd sound silly in an academic context, and like you were talking about siblings, not syllables.

And that made me think, next time someone asks where I fall in the sibling lineup, I should say I'm the penultimate.

And that made me think, not only is Robert the seventh son of a seventh son, he's also the antepenultimate. Some people have all the luck.

But then, luck is the whole point of being the seventh son of a seventh son, isn't it?


Ronald said...

Now, see... most people can just say things like "my brother" unambiguously when referring to siblings. Even in our family, all of us except Robert can refer to him as "my youngest brother" (I suspect he can refer to himself even more succinctly than that).

Marcy said...

True, and MOST people can just say they're the middle child, or the oldest or youngest or whatnot. But not us. Robert could answer the question, "And which one are you?" by deliberately misunderstanding and saying, "I'm Robert!" or by saying "I'm the youngest son," but they still might want to know how many daughters are younger, and it's just way more cool to say, "I'm the antepenultimate." Don't you think?