Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fun With Freecycle: Ungrammatical Underlayment


When we decided to redo our laundry room, my contractor sent me off to buy some underlayment.  My contractor speaks with a thick, Polish accent, so I asked him to repeat himself three times.  I heard him right the first time, though.  He really wanted me to buy something called underlayment.

Still unable to process this information, I went to Home Depot and asked for “That stuff you put under the floor to protect it from water and stuff.”

“Oh! You mean underlayment?”

Finally, the horrible truth dawned on me.  Someone had created a product and called it “underlayment.”  Underlayment is not a word!  I’m not just saying that as a guy with three English degrees.  I’m saying that as a guy with three English degrees!

Look, the root of the word is “lay,” right?  It comes from the Old English for “put on the ground.”  Now, I can understand if you’re going to make something new you don’t want to call it a “lay.”  That would cause all kinds of problems.  I mean, imagine my contractor said “go get me a lay.”

So you add the prefix “under-,” which comes from Proto-German for...  Well, under.  Makes sense, you lay this thing under the flooring.  Now you’ve got a good name: “underlay.”

But no, you had to go ruin it by adding the suffix “-ment”  Ment is from the Latin for “I’m a stupid inventor who doesn’t know how to make a new word for my invention.”

Underlayment.  Sheesh.  It’s a crappy word, but I suppose it’s too late to change it.  I mean, Microsoft Word isn’t warning me to fix the spelling.  Underlayment should have a red underline beneath it.  Or, should I say, “underlinement.”

Anyway, I have half an underollment of underlayment if you want it.  It’s the good kind that protects against underwaterment.

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