Saturday, April 15, 2006

language ranticle

A small rant-- a mere ranticle.

The words are enmity (EN-mity) and remuneration (re-MU-neration), folks. Not emnity and renumeration.

I know what you're thinking: you think EM-nity makes sense because it roughly matches the spelling of words like con-DEM-nation. You also think that it's re-NUM-eration because the "numer" somehow reminds you of "number," which you associate with money. (You might also be thinking of "numismatics," i.e., coin collection and study.)

Trust me: I thought that way myself about those two words. But I was wrong, and I purged myself of that particular bit of ignorance years ago. In cruising some online articles this evening, though, I saw my old bugbears, alive and well, roaming on other people's blogs.

If you happen to see "emnity" and "renumeration" anywhere near you during your online safari, grab a high-power rifle, shoot 'em dead, skin 'em, and restock the veldt with "enmity" and "remuneration."

That is all.



Anonymous said...

Being quite anal retentive myself when it comes to language, I feel your pain. But it surprises me that people would say "emnity" rather than "enmity." I've never heard that before. It's a lot harder to say "emnity" than it is to say "enmity," too, so that doesn't make too much sense. Unless it's only an error made in writing...?

Kevin Kim said...


I think a lot of people mistakenly gravitate toward "emnity" because the combination "emn" occurs in words like "condemnation" and "indemnity." I was making that mistake for years, and I'd argue-- given the people I know who still make that mistake-- that's it's actually pretty easy to make.

Out of sheer monkey curiosity, I did a Google search on the misspelling "emnity," and got a whopping 70,900 results. It should be noted, though, that some of those results include correct spellings of the word, such as the online Webster's entry for "enmity."