The case for ‘nother’.

It is a special time for those of us who consider words an art: Merriam-Webster has published a new dictionary.  Among the newly included words are some familiar (edamame) and some strange (prosecco, which is a type of Italian wine I would now like to try).  The dictionary makers have decreed which words should be included by closely monitoring usage of the English language, which I applaud.  However, it makes me wonder just what the criteria for inclusion are.  Do these words eventually go into the Scrabble dictionary?  if so, when?  Why is the not-yet-word ‘nother’ still not included?

Many of you are familar with the word “another”, a combination of the singular article ‘an’ with the word ‘other’, meaning ‘one other’.  I am unsure what evolutionary twist of language smooshed these two words together into a single word, but I do know that they have again been separated in new ways.  Yes, I am am talking about the frequently-used phrase “a whole nother”.  Examples of common use of this phrase include movies (Star wars, Luke says “But that’s a whole nother year!” in regards to helping with the farm for the rest of the season instead of going to pilot school.), music (“A Whole Nother Thang” is the title of Clarence Haskell’s debut album), and personal experience.  Yes mom, I refuse to say “another whole”.

Now, the grammar sticklers would say “a whole other” would be the correct phrase that does not create a new word.  And I’m sure the dictionary sticklers would say that ‘nother’ is not really common usage – meaning might not be conveyed outside the “a whole nother” phrase.  Someone saying “I have two nother bathtubs” might be misunderstood.  However, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.  One day (someday soon) ‘nother’ will no longer be discriminated against.  We will be free at last.

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1 Comment

  1. Shelly said,

    July 8, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    POWER TO THE NOTHER!! Boo on that red squiggly line under my favorite word besides frigerator.


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