Paul Frank paulfrank at POST.HARVARD.EDU
Fri Oct 29 15:13:57 UTC 2010

On Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 5:00 PM, Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at stanford.edu> wrote:

> a friend tried to cheer me up (some health woes again) by offering the following on Facebook:
> Â >This might cheer you up. I just saw it on a forum:
> Â >"I'm not sure I understand. Could you illiterate?"
> presumably "illuminate" was the target. so it's some kind of malapropism, but could be either a CM (classical malapropism) or an FC (Fay-Cutler) type.
> arnold

Maybe the poster meant, "I'm subliterate. Could you dumb it down
enough for me to understand what you mean?" Maybe not.

Incidentally, I don't see "subliterate" in my paper edition of the
OED2 and, being one of the great unwashed, I can't afford an online
subscription. But the One-Look Dictionary has links to seven
dictionary definitions of "subliterate," including this most excellent
one from the Urban Dictionary: "1. To be completely clueless on how to
using the subway or other means of public tranportation; 2. To be
unable to read a subway map."


Paul Frank
Chinese, German, French, Italian > English
Espace de l'Europe 16
Neuch√Ętel, Switzerland
paulfrank at bfs.admin.ch
paulfrank at post.harvard.edu

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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