“The subject for my anthology is the Trojan Horse. I’m extremely fascinated by…”

Yes, I’m a tease.

Here is another student “fascinated” by a topic for the anthology project. As for me, I’m extremely fascinated by my students’ tendency, fairly widespread, to intensify their terms via “very,” “extremely,” and maybe “very extremely.” They want to say something intense but haven’t the vocabulary; hence the Holocaust becomes “an extremely bad event” or a “very painful time.” The intensifiers themselves actually aid and abet in trivializing the significance of the noun, since they modify adjectives that are fairly pedestrian. “Very painful” puts the Holocaust in the same category as a wisdom-tooth extraction. The “extremely fascinated” above would have been better expressed as merely “interested,” leaving room for the substance that follows to show the fascination rather than merely proclaiming it.

Now, that done, on to the killer:

“The subject for my anthology is the Trojan Horse. I’m extremely fascinated by mycological creatures and stories.”

The Mushroom That Ate Troy.

Is the culprit Autocorrect? I typed this pair of statements into a Word document: “He is mytological. He is mychological.” Spellcheck recommended “mythological” for the first, “mycological” for the second. Both recommendations came with the other choice as option #2. Obviously it’s expressing its preferences based on the first letter in the combination: if “t,” then “myth,” despite the absence of an “h”; if “ch,” then “myc,” despite the presence of an “h.”

I’m fairly sure my student doesn’t think that he studied Greek mycology in his high school English class, or that the Trojan Horse is a fungus. But if he doesn’t think it, then why did he let it stand when he proofread his paper? Ah, one of the great mysteries of Freshman Comp.

Next time I’m slicing mushrooms for an omelet, I’m going to be haunted by the mycological creatures I may be inadvertently destroying, any one of whom would have an extremely fascinating story to tell if I had let him live, I’m sure.

The Trojan Horse. (Image from nomoretiers.org, an important site)

 

Trojan mushrooms? (image from Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

5 responses to ““The subject for my anthology is the Trojan Horse. I’m extremely fascinated by…”

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