Friday, September 09, 2005

My Superpower

The other day, a friend asked me if I had ever blogged about my superpower (indicating, by the way, that he hasn't been reading my blog). Since I haven't, and the upper regions of my mind are too focused on the critical history of Old English charms, I thought this might be a good time for it.

I first realized that all English professors share a superpower some years ago when I shared an office with a fellow named "Mike." Mike would often say things using obscure or hastily-constructed vocabulary, which he would then follow up with the question, "Is that a word?" For example, he might talk about the process of coming to know something, refer to it as "epistemizing," then ask, "Is that a word?"

The answer is YES. For you see, I am an English professor, and by virtue of that fact, I have the power to invent new words, phrases, or grammatically structures. By the same token, I have the power to ratify the neologisms of others.

By virtue of my position, it is impossible for me to be grammatically incorrect! For, you see, it is people like me who determine exactly what grammatically correct is. For example, years ago, split infinitives were universally considered incorrect. Today, you can find large numbers of young turks (me among them) who argue that split infinitives are just fine for any text that will not be translated into Latin. If the President makes up a word, such as "strategery," he is mistaken; if I make up a word, I am coining a valid neologism.

Take the following sentence: "I ain't gots no reeson for to sometimes coin new words or new wordesque stuf." You might think that this sentence is rife with grammar and spelling errors, and you might also think that "wordesque" is not a word. You are WRONG! For I am an English professor! All bow before my might!

Please note also that poets have the ability to coin new words, but not to ratify them (only we English professors can do so). Also, if two English professors disagree, both are correct. Don't try to reason it out -- superpowers just work that way.


  1. I am humbled. Unworthy! Unworthy!

  2. Nick of Nowhere11:22 PM

    This would be a great time for me to thank the good professor for the waiver in spelling "d'oh" as "doh". You, sir, are my hero!

  3. Classic.

    Although, I will state for the record that I have found both "strategery" and "misunderestimated" to be rather usable, if not useful, words. So, perhaps you could use your powers to endorse them, if Your Wordliness is so inclined...

  4. Apparently that superpower is, to some degree, bestowed upon the spouses of English professors as well, at least in the minds of students. The assumptions seems to be "you're married to an English professor, you must know." I guess they assume all we ever do is sit around an discuss vocabular and grammar all day.