Once upon a time, I thought that ‘laxy’ was a real word. Obviously, its definition was somewhere between ‘lazy’ and ‘lax’. I learned the truth the hard way; that is, I once tried to play the word ‘laxy’ in a game of Scrabble. The word was challenged and looked up in the dictionary, and I was greatly surprised  to discover that it wasn’t there. In denial, I ran to consult every book in which I thought I remembered having seen that word, and found that they all actually said ‘lazy’. It was a traumatic experience; my view of the world in which I lived was badly shaken.

Another word which I thought was real and also used frequently was ‘quotia’. Come to think of it, that belief also was brought to a sudden and shocking end during a Scrabble game. Someone had played ‘quota’, and I insisted that it was supposed to have an I after the T. Everyone else said that there was no I, so the dictionary was consulted, and I was forced to reluctantly acknowledge that quota was a real word and quotia was not. That was such a difficult idea to accept that I still use the word quotia sometimes. For the record, a quotia is not exactly the same thing as a quota; it’s a bit more specific. The word ‘quotia’ is a combination of ‘quota’ and ‘quotient’, and it is what you get when you split a task or project into small sections (individual math problems, lines in a book, etc.) and divide it by a unit of time (minutes, hours, days, etc.) to determine the rate at which you should work towards the completion of the task or project.

I have also learned that ‘causual’ is not a word and ‘casual’ is, and that there’s no such word as ‘spacial’; it’s supposed to be ‘spatial’. If you think about that, it makes no sense, because ‘space’ is spelled with a C, but my spell-check says that I’m just going to have to learn how to deal with it.

Anyway, the moral of this story is that in order to overcome one’s linguistic misunderstandings and to learn to speak in a language that other people might understand, one must play a lot of Scrabble.

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