Do you ever feel like pterodactyl is an inside joke? Like, do you look at that word and think, “That cannot possibly be right?” Do you see pterodactyl and suspect it was maybe, probably, actually spelled teradactile until one day, at their top secret, annual, global conference, All the Paleontologists decided they were sick and tired of being belittled by the Other Scientists as the Ross Gellars of the Science World and never, ever invited to sit at the Cool Kids’ Table with Neil DeGrasse Tyson or Lisa Randall? Do you think the Paleontologists were bitter they’re never invited to play themselves on Big Bang Theory like Stephen Hawking and The Wild Thornberrys like Jane Goodall? Do you think they were enraged their conference is always during the mid-summer heatwave in Fresno, California or Trenton, New Jersey while All the Physicists toast each other with fine wine just after the new year in French ski villages like Val Thorens and Alpe d’Huez?
I think they were all, “NOPE,” and “DONE,” and “OVER AND OUT, Other Scientists,” and that’s when they made their pact to just EFF WITH US FOREVER AND EVER by agreeing to insist teradactile, which makes sense, is spelled pterodactyl.
Tommy was all, “We could throw a P in front of that.” And Patrice went, “And spell the end with a Y.” And then Robertta goes, “Let’s just arbitrarily change the A in the middle to an O,” because she’s still angry her mom spelled her name with two t’s.
I mean, it was a joke, obviously, after a few too many fancy cocktails at the conference center bar themed to look like a tacky Tiki Shack, but then they all looked at each other. It was an instant mindmeld as they simultaneously thought, “We could pull this off. Who’s going to tell All the Paleontologists in All the World that we’re Wrong about how to spell pterodactyl?”
They were drunk on power. And a little bit on rum punch. So they pulled the trigger.
They never meant it to go this far. They were in a bad mental space, and they didn’t think it through.
They never meant to harm all those Second Grade Spelling Bee hopefuls, dashing their dreams on P’s and O’s and Y’s.
But it’s just too late to come clean now.
They have to live with it.
Every day, they have to live with regret.
Let’s think about that for a while, shall we?
P.S. Did you know that the pterodactyl’s scientific name — pterodactylus— means winged finger? I bet you dollars to donuts every single time a paleontologist says pterodactyl, that’s exactly what they’re flipping the world, y’all. #TheMoreYouKnow
P.P.S. I have a lot of laundry and dishes and children’s hygiene issues to attend to today, friends. Also, news and politics are depressing. Thus this dive into the word pterodactyl. Today’s avoidance technique is brought to you by the letter “P.”
P.P.P.S. Also, anyone but me think narwhals are a hoax? Because seriously.
6 responses to “Today’s Avoidance Technique Brought to You by the Letter P”
In Dutch, we actually pronounce the “P”. I suggest you give it a try….
My favourite avoidance technique is reading your blog…so thank you!
That’s ridiculous. Pterodactyl is one of the greatest words in the language and has been from the day it was coined. And paleontologists are much cooler than the guests on The Big Bang Theory and The Wild Thornberrys. Paleontologists were the first visitors at Jurassic Park. And then they saved everyone at Jurassic Park… because that’s what paleontologists do. They know how to survive T. Rex attacks and Velociraptor rampages, how to nurse a Triceratops with the sniffles, and instinctively know how to spell Pterodactyl. Nobody’s cooler than that.
I really wish they hadn’t changed that “a” to an “o”. I have always felt that way. I don’t mind the p or the y, though.
Blogging is my favorite chore avoidance technique.
P.S. Narwhals are totally real, which means unicorns are also real.
English orthography tracks etymology. Sensible written languages use their orthography to track phonemes (like Spanish does) or meaning (like Chinese did before Mao). English is like, nah, let’s make this bad boy freaking impossible to learn or teach systematically so that everyone is constantly reminded that “pterodactyl” comes from the Greek. Because, I guess, the fact that it’s Greek is more important than what it means or how you say it. Hardly the priorities *I* would have chosen, but I wasn’t consulted.
My avoidance technique today is brought by the letter F or I—the flu or influenza. It really wasn’t my idea to “celebrate” my birthday this way—or to extend the fun to the rest of the family—but there it is. The one well person in the house, is now doing all the necessary things. The one well person (who had the foresight to escape via a house sitting job) is being the angel of mercy bringing all the things we need to try to comfort the afflicted. Good theory about the teradactile.