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#250 - 03/15/00 10:42 PM need help with trivia question  
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jackiemw Offline
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I'm addicted to a weekly language-related trivia contest at englishconsulting.com. Usually I know the answer or can find it, but this week's deceptively simple question has me stumped. Here it is: What would some language "authorities" say is wrong with this sentence? An apple is a healthy snack. Any suggestions?
Any ideas?


#251 - 03/15/00 11:08 PM Re: need help with trivia question  
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AnnyO Offline
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I think it has to do with the word healthy. If the H is silent, then the word begins with a vowel sound, so use an instead of a, such as an hour, an heir. However, depending on what part of the country or world you are from there may be some disagreement as to whether the H is silent.


#252 - 03/15/00 11:13 PM Re: need help with trivia question  
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RonDavis Offline
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The answer could be hairsplitting about the precise meanings of words.

Maybe there is a supposed distinction between an apple and a snack that consists of an apple.

Maybe it is not the snack that is healthy, but (potentially) the person who eats it.


#253 - 03/15/00 11:24 PM Re: need help with trivia question  
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Wordsmith Offline
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An apple could be healthy, if the farmer took good care of it. But I believe here we are mainly concerned
with whether it is a healthful snack or not.


#254 - 03/15/00 11:25 PM Re: need help with trivia question  
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deborah s Offline
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I believe I know the answer to this one. The sentence should read: An apple is a healthful snack. (Or maybe "an healthful" snack...not sure on that point.) I wish I could tell you why healthful is correct and healthy is not, but unfortunately I don't know the exact reason.

What do you think?


#255 - 03/16/00 12:02 AM Re: need help with trivia question  
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jackiemw Offline
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Thanks for putting me on the right track! Watch-Word!!! (A Glossary of Gobbledygook, Cliches, and Solecisms) agrees that healthful should be used rather than healthy. They say healthful means giving or promoting health; healthy means having good health. Example - a climate is healthful; only a person is healthy (except when word means considerable quantity as in a healthy serving of pie). Thanks "hairsplitters!"


#256 - 03/23/00 12:15 AM Re: need help with trivia question  
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jmh Offline
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I think this is a good example of a very silly word. There is nothing wrong with "healthy". We can talk about a company's finances being healthy as well as a healthy appetitite or a healthy sum of money. Let's leave healthful in the gobbledygook book where it belongs.

I would also like to raise the issue of other silly words along the lines of transportation used instead of transport, for example, (in the simple case where they have the same meaning) this leads to the creation of unnecessary words along the same lines as "to transportate", or words along the same lines as the term "transportationise/ize". Why is there such a tendancy to make a new longer word when a perfectly acceptable short word will do the job?


#257 - 03/23/00 05:07 AM Re: need help with trivia question  
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lusy Offline
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I agree in principle with jmh on the issue of unnecessary words, but I do feel quite sure that "healthy" and "healthful" are in fact interchangeable in the sense of either conducive to or enjoying good health.


#258 - 03/23/00 08:16 AM Re: need help with trivia question  
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jmh Offline
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Regarding the use of the word "an" with words beginning with "h". I think it is technically correct to use "an" but people appear to be increasingly uncomfortable with it. I remember a recent discussion in the UK press about "a historic occasion" versus "an historic occasion".


#259 - 06/20/00 10:06 PM Re: need help with trivia question  
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jackiemw Offline
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Thank goodness this word trivia contest is almost over (runs for 26 weeks). I'm stumped on this week's question, though. Here it is - "I can't wait to sink my teeth into that!" he said bitingly and "I'm gasping for air!" she said breathlessly are examples of what specific type of play on words? I'm sure I once knew this, but I've been looking through reference books and surfing for more than an hour. I know this is the right place to post this question!


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