Thursday, December 15, 2005

Teacher Man

A quote from pages 74-75 of the recently published Frank McCourt's Teacher Man, which I am currently reading, having read his two previous autobiographical works and enjoyed them immensely. The speaker is the mother of a vocational student complaining about the assigned English vocabulary list at an Open House.

See what I mean? You people are out of it. You don't have handkerchief on the list and he'll be blowing his nose the rest of his life. And you know what you got on the list? Usufruct, f'Christ's sakes, u-s-u-f-r-u-c-t. Who came up with that one? That one of those words you throw around at your fancy cocktail parties in Manhattan? Now what in hell is Paulie going to do with a word like that? And here's another one, c-o-n-d-i-g-n. I asked six people if they knew what that meant.
McCourt, Frank (2005) Teacher Man. Scribner. ISBN: 0743243773

The right to use and enjoy the profits and advantages of something belonging to another as long as the property is not damaged or altered in any way.
"usufruct." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 16 Dec. 2005.

Fitting or appropriate and deserved; used especially of punishment.
"condign." WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. 16 Dec. 2005.