Friday, November 18, 2005


11 AM. The office of Palinode Productions. Phone rings.

Palinode: Good morning, Palinode Productions.

Schmutzie: Hi there. I've got your dumb question for the day.

P: Is it eleven already?

S: Labelist.

P: That's more of a word than a question.

S: Is that a word, labelist? I just came up with it.

P: You've made up the word.

S: Yes.

P: But that's not really your question.

S: No.

P: You want to know if it's spelled with one or two l's.

S: Exactly.

P: Definitely one l.

S: Otherwise you'd be a labellist.

P: You'd be all for Patti LaBelle, marching in the streets.

S: Holding placards. Shouting out LaBelle-friendly slogans.

P: You're no LaBellist.

S: No way!

P: What do you think is worse: you calling me up at work to ask about a made-up word, or the fact that I knew immediately that your question was really about the spelling of a made-up word?

S: Worst of all is the spread of vioent LaBellist demonstrations.

P: Pah! Ti! Pah! Ti!


The other me said...

*sigh* you see, there are some of us in this big old world who have phone calls like
" hey can you get my prescription while you're out?"
Now how many people would howl with laughter about that if I wrote it on my blog? Life can be very unfair and cruel to some of us.
Although, being fair to myself, my 4 year old did ask me " are chips OK for poorly butts....or no?" could be a blog entry out of that one perhaps.

Lynn said...

Maybe you all can help my husband and me out with the spelling of one of our made-up words. It's "squeetle," and we've been using it for years without any problems. But we recently had a little squabble when we needed to write the word down. I thought "squeetle" was the right spelling, but he thought it should be spelled "squeatle."

palinode said...

It all depends on what squeetle means. So do tell.

The Other Me: What are poorly butts? That almost sounds like some tiny hamlet in southern England. Now passing Reading... Maidstone... Poorly Butts...

The other me said...

Poorly butts...if I tell you he had been up all night with the worst case of a stomach flu and was sore, in the butt area, you know, feeling quite poorly...does that help?

The other me said...

oh and he was wondering if he ate some chips they would cause more stinging moments ( I hope) not asking if he could apply chips to the poorly butt.

Lynn said...

Squeetle (skwēt’l) n. 1. something terribly cute that makes a little squeaky noise when you squeeze it too hard 2. something that likes to be squeezed in this fashion 3. something that runs around squeaking all the time. v. 1. the act of squeezing a squeetle. Get over here, or I’m gonna squeetle you.

You can see the confusion here. Is it “squeetle” after the “ee” in squeeze? Or is it “squeatle” after the “ea” in squeak? We really need you and your wife’s expert advice to help us resolve this spelling conundrum.

palinode said...

The sque/atle question is a tough one. Schmutz thinks ea. I think ee. We are divided.

And so is the word. Have you thought that it may be two words folded into one?

It's not certain whether the word derives from squeaking or squeezing. I would guess that the substantive form derives from the squeak but the verb form derives from the act of squeezing. I offer the following gimcrack solution, expressed handsomely in the following sentence:

Put that squeatle down or I'll squeetle you.

Really, that's not too elegant. It's possible that you're mistaken about the form of the verb itself. The infinitive is probably to squeet, with the noun form squeetle derived backward from the past participle. Like so:

Put that squeetle down or I'll squeet you. I'll squeet you right good untily you've been all squeetled.

That's my thinking on the matter.

palinode said...

The other me: I still think Poorly Butts sounds like a weirdly named manor somewhere. I also think that chips are good for poorly butts.

Lynn said...

P (and S), I am really surprised S likes the “ea” spelling. I don’t know her at all, but I thought she’d be with me on this one. The “ee” version is so sleek, streamlined.

I took four years of Latin in high school, but still all your talk of past participles and infinitives has my head spinning. I am consulting my Latin grammar quick study guide, but what’s the use? This discussion is over my head.

So in short, have we settled on “squeetle,” or is this matter still up for debate?

Gaunilo said...

I think that what is really important in this debate has been overlooked: the ideological import of the "ee" - "ea" opposition. What about that?

I am totally, by the way, a Labellist. How could you not be? We all need our causes, this is mine.

Nothing But Bonfires said...

I was all set to say something witty about Lip Smackers and the rights of people who liked the Dr. Pepper flavor to take to the streets and protest the popularity of strawberry......and then I realized that those are made by Bonnie Belle, not Bonnie LaBelle.

So, uh, witty joke aborted. I guess they'd be Bellists rather than LaBellists. And obviously I need to spend more time in CVS.

Lynn said...

I forgot to mention that when a squeetle squeaks, it makes a sound like "REEEEEEE." That might be an important squeetle fact. I don't know.

Anonymous Midwest Girl said...

Lynn, I have to agree with you. The "ee" spelling is much more elegant. Put me squarely with the squeetle party.

Jason said...

Well, I suppose it's time that I 'fessed up: I am a card-carrying LaBelletriste. I'm all for Patti LaBelle, but I find myself sad and gloomy at the fact that her career has gone so far south she has nowhere to go but north.

This is not at all the same as a Labelletrist (no 'e'), which no one would ever accuse me of being.

As for 'squeetle', I love the word, and I am tempted to go and wake my wife up just so I can use it in conversation (she would squeatle me). My preference would be, as in that last sentence, to allow a range of spellings, but one pronunciation (like centre/center). This would allow for maximal play in written communication, but clarity in speech, which seems more likely to be directly urgent statement, for example, 'Watch out! Don't step on the skwēt’l!'

Red said...

Um, guys? Labelist already has 2 l's.

palinode said...

Ain't that the truth. From now on the debate will no longer center on whether the word is 'labelist' or 'labellist'. It will now be 'labelist' or 'labeist'. Or possibly 'abelist'. Or maybe 'babelist,' which is either a list of babes or a really hot affixer of labels.

Actually, if you poke around in a dictionary, you'll find the words 'labelist' and 'labellist' absent. The proper term for one who affixes labels is 'labeller'. The proper term for a label-affixing hottie is 'babeller'.

Anonymous said...

last week our group held a similar talk on this subject and you point out something we have not covered yet, appreciate that.

- Kris