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Tag: philology

Input, Imput – get it together people – putt putt

It is clearly input. But why?

Input

I can put something, which is to say that I can place it, or give it, or present it.

Why? Put is a verb. Only.

  • I put the crown onto the frog. The crown however is not the “put”, it’s simply the crown.

I can however input something – type it in, place it in, draw it in – and I can also have input.

Input is a verb and a noun.

  • I input my blog into the inter-webs. Or. The inter-webs input is my blog. (note: no apostrophe s (‘s) on interwebs as it’s not possessive) 

The “in” is not a prefix!

If it was a prefix it would change the meaning of put to mean “not” put, as that is what the prefix “in” does.

For example:

incapable, not capable
incapacitated, without capacity
inconceivable, not conceivable

hence:

input, not put. Is wrong, as input is absolutely guaranteed to be put.

We get a better sense of how it’s come about from its antonym output, being stuff that’s come out.

Both of these words are, of course, compound words the joining of two words to create a new meaning.

Other examples include: backyard, courthouse, anywhere, thunderstorm, cupcake and, of course, inter-webs.

Imput 

Imput then is clearly not a word, even though you see it everywhere.

Putt Putt

Putt putt is a kind of golf where you putt only. The object is to putt it only once each turn.

In-putt-putt is not a word form (neither is inputtputt, inputt, or ingolf).

References

Boswell, W. (2016, January 30). What does the term “Interweb” really mean? Retrieved November 29, 2016, from https://www.lifewire.com/what-does-interweb-really-mean-3482412
Rube Goldberg machine. (2016). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rube_Goldberg_machine&oldid=745390200
Elowyn. (2008, August 15). Your Imput Needed. Retrieved November 21, 2016, from https://elowyn.wordpress.com/2008/08/15/your-imput-needed/

Mentee, Mentoree, Meant what?

A friend of mine recently disparagingly commented on a mentoring program for their use of the word “mentee”.

To quote: “You’d think a mentoring program would know there’s no such word.”

For those of you thinking I’m being needlessly fastidious and that I’m going to say the word ought to be mentoree, you’d be wrong, as mentoree is not a word either.

what?

It’s true. Both of these constructs reflect the same kind of grammatical over extension toddlers make when they say things like swammed or runned.

It’s as if people have searched through their recollections of word forms and dragged out good old:

  • addressor/addressee
  • departor/departee
  • abductor/abductee

and applied it to mentor.

Well, what’s wrong with that?

It is the nature of the verb that guides the usage of this language form.

In the above examples the or ending words are the doers, and the ee ending words are acted upon, but this is all predicated upon there being a verb there in the first instance:

  • to address
  • to depart
  • to abduct

Let me make this clear. In no way is there a verb to ment .  Meaning that we could have a mentor as one who ments, and a mentee as one who is mented.

The verb form of mentor is, unfortunately, to mentor.

Why is this?

Mentor isn’t a construct like  addressor or adbuctor, instead it comes from Greek mythology. Mentor was Odysseus’s trusted counselor. Indeed Odysseus made Mentor guardian to his son Telemachus, when Odysseus set off to fight the Trojan War. It’s a really cool story. Look it up.

So, what to do?

If you cared enough, you’d be careful about how you called someone in a mentoring relationship. You could say, for example:

  • Mentor and Student
  • Mentor and Young Artist
  • Mentor and Aspiring Teacher

Or my favourite:

Mentor and Telemachus.

Crisis averted.

Ridicule is permitted.

UPDATE March 2nd 2013 –  New blog post: Mentee, Mentoree, Meant Something After All –  on this topic capturing some of the comments below and speaking to the problems of style.

UPDATE July 12th 2013 – New blog post: Mentee, Mentoree – Ngram – Final Word – for those desperate for a “correct” answer.