Volcanic mountains

The Grammar Guy: volcanic vocalic verbiage | Community News

I have never been a scientist. While I admit the Earth is round (at least that’s what the media would tell you), I never developed a deeper understanding of biology, chemistry, or physics.

As a result, when I started college, I took the easiest science course I could find. It was the turn of the 21st century and online courses were a bit of a novelty. Enter yours truly, the scientific blunderer who decided to take “Volcanoes and Earthquakes (Online)” at the University of Oklahoma.

I’ll skip the part about not doing any of the homework (since only the four tests counted towards our grades in the class) and let you know that I had to get an “A” in finals to get a “C” in the class. I did it. I have become a last-minute master of all things volcanic.

When I first saw the word “vocalic” my brain saw the word “volcanic”. Especially now that I’m an expert on mountains blasting their peaks, I love unleashing my volcanic wisdom on everyone who passes by. In fact, “vocalic” has nothing to do with volcanoes; it is a word that relates to vowels.

Since I’m not about to discuss “spy glyphs” or “nymph myths” today, I want to stick to the traditional vowels: a, e, i, o, and u. After all, in the Wordle era, we all want to master our vowel movements.

A “univocal” word is a word that contains only one of the vowels. It may have only one vowel, as in the word “ash”, or it may have a vowel used several times, such as “lava” or “magma”. Did you know that the molten goo in a volcano is magma when inside the volcano and is considered lava once it erupts?

My favorite volcanic one-to-one word is the Hawaiian word “aa” (or a’a). It precedes “aardvark” in the dictionary, making it one of the best words ever. According to the US Geological Society, aa is “a Hawaiian term for lava flows that have a rough surface composed of broken blocks of lava called clinkers.”

If a word has more than one vowel, we call it “plurivocalic”. Examples of plurivocalic words include volcano, eruption, tectonic, and pumice.

Hope you learned something about vowels today. If Tomorrow’s Wordle Puzzle throws a plurivocalic word at you, do your best not to blow your lid off.

Curtis Honeycutt is a syndicated comedy columnist. He is the author of “Good Grammar is the Life of the Party: Tips for a Wildly Success Life”. Learn more about curtishoneycutt.com.