This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


This word and I first met way back in the days that I was a contractor at IBM.

I was up in a third floor lab, with my co-workers. I had entered a bug report the day before. What it was about, I don't remember anymore but I do know it was a big deal with me and my cohorts. At least to me it was. And then I made it known to the rest of my peers.

The next day, the bug had a reply from the developer. I still remember the scene: me telling everyone I got a reply, about 3-4 of my pals circling around me as I read out loud the response.

I was reading it very carefully, then started getting excitedly annoyed, so my voice was louder, my reading faster. And as I just went through the script, animatedly I stopped at the developer's use of the word "superfluous".

"What the hell does that mean?"

It was an interruption to my annoyance.

"How do you even pronounce that word?!?"

"SuperFLEWus?" Was one response.

"SuPERfuhlus" was another.

There was no help. And then me and superfluous became fast becoming one of my favorite all-time words that I didn't know how to pronounce.

Back before online audio-dictionaries, I would look the word up and see this:
su̇-ˈpər-flü-əs (Seriously? How does one interpret that for pronunciation?)

It was a word I wanted to put on my license plate...but I prefer to keep my word spelled out as close to its natural occurrence as possible, and in NC, we have up to eight characters we can use for our personalized plates. S-1 U-2 P-3 E-4 R-5 F-6 L-7 U-8 O-9 U-10 S-11. Not going to fit.

The word came back up the other day, with two of my co-workers. I said "superFLEWus".  My friend responded with "You mean suPER-fluh-us?" 

Yeah. That was it. A reminder that I still had no idea how to pronounce my favorite word.

But now I do.

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