Spelling, Mis-spelling, and Word Creation: The Word “Atall”

I just received a gentle warning that I had mis-spelled a word on this site, and that there were tools to help me avoid this problem.


Alarmed, I looked to see what word I had mis-spelled, as this can completely alter the meaning of a sentence and a post – a most appalling possibility.

The word my gentle correspondent sent to me was “atall.”

There is, of course, the word “atoll” which refers to a tiny remnant of an island, but as I did not discuss anything smaller than an island on my site to my knowledge, that would not be a mis-spelling that I would suffer. 

The other option is the dialect word “atall”, which like the generally used word “into” is a combination of two words yielding a meaning similar to, but subtly different from, the source words.


In English, which is a chimærical language, new words are created by several different means. 

One is by borrowing from other languages, as with the word “chai” which means “tea” in its original language but to which we have assigned the meaning “black tea spiced and sweetened and prepared with milk in a specific manner”. The sentences would be “Would you like some tea? No, I would prefer chai today.”

Another is by assertion of previously inapplicable grammatical rules as in the word “effect,” which originally was only a noun denoting the impact of a specific set of actions or circumstances, or of the person or persons that created the actions or circumstances; but which has become a verb denoting the deliberate causing of those actions or circumstances. This was a piece of military jargon which has been incorporated into general usage. The sentences would be “The effect of tea-drinking was to ensure that most water was boiled before being drunk, thus drastically reducing the amount of water-borne illness,” and “We shall immediately effect the boiling of all consumable water at the point of consumption.”

The word “atall” is of a class once known as “portmanteau words,” which join two or more words together to effect a subtle change of meaning. This unification is typically done in dialect, in jargon, in slang or in what was once known as “cant” or criminal slang.

Let us first examine the word “into” to see the method. 

“In” is nearly always used as a Location word, belonging to the set “in, on, under, above, and around.” You will have seen the intensifier words “within” and “inside.”

“To” is a much more ambiguous word, acting both as a portion of the infinitive form of verbs: “to act” or “to begin,” for example; and also as a Direction word belonging to the set “to and from.” The intensifier word “towards” and the Elizabethan slang “fro” are parts of this set.

“Into” was created as a Vector word combining direction and goal, and can be unpacked from its portmanteau as meaning “towards and arriving at the interior.” Examine the sentences “She went into the tea-room” and “Take the chai into the parlor.” These usages are subtly but definitely different from “She went in to the tea-room” and “Take the chai in to the parlor.” The latter two sentences allow for the possibility of diversion before arrival; the former two do not.

With that introduction, let us examine the American Southern dialect word “atall,” sometimes mis-spelled as “at-all.” It is a portmanteau of “at all,” which phrase denotes “in any possible manner” and connotes “the situation cannot occur,” both of  which being applicable to both nouns and verbs. See the usage in the sentences “There is no tea at all,” and “We cannot go shopping at all.” The first indicates that all tea, regardless of brand or type or even non-black tea boiled drinks such as peppermint or chamomile tisanes, all are absent from the location. The second indicates that neither changing the mode of transportation nor changing the shopping venues nor altering the amount of cash present will allow shopping to occur. “At all” is pronounced as equally emphasized separate words.

“Atall” is pronounced as a single word with almost no emphasis on the first syllable and a great deal of emphasis on the second: uh-TAHL. It is an intensifier of the phrase “at all” and connotes “the situation is both impossible and irremediable.” If “There is no tea atall”, then the tea plantations have burned down and all the local peppermint and chamomile has been poisoned with a long-acting herbicide.

American Southern dialect words are incorporated into American Standard English through family diaspora such as my own, through television shows and movies such as “Designing Women” and Steel Magnolias and, and through radio and television coverage of Congress and political gatherings.

I abhor and abjure mis-spellings. But having realized that all modern English is the result of slang, cant, and dialect, I enthusiastically embrace “incorrect” English.

This is not Psalm 2:1.

Why do the nations tremble? And the people imagine a vain thing? They rage as they dance in the temples, and in fear beat themselves on the high roads. They slaughter the strangers among them, and their neighbors they accuse and burn.

My doings are none of your making, and my actions cannot be thwarted. When I raise up the seas in the morning, or cast the mount into fire, I act that I act and alone. You cannot know my reasons, you do not cause my fury, no pleas of yours can gainsay them, nor penitence retire them.

Shout not at the brilliantly-colored, nor hiss at the idolators. Their ways are not yours to condemn: mine is the judgement alone. Bring no man to the fire, and no child to the whet-sharpened knife: you seal thereby your own fate, which shall be yours alone. I do not punish the nations, nor do I sentence the peoples: on the head of the criminal lonestanding shall be his own reward.

When I cast down the mighty cities, when I throw down the mountains with fire, then shall you flee to safety, and mourn for your losses and dead. Pity yourselves and each other, care for each other with kindness, and comfort each other’s grieving. Pile not new hurts upon old hurts, and accept until knowledge is full.

When I hurl the storm and the thunderbolt, my thought is for the earth, and I act as I will for the ages. Do not brag that this is your doing, nor that I will cease at your pleading. Look about you with dry eyes: the land itself has been altered. The seasons have changed in their courses, and the ice on the mounts is receding.

Yours is to build a new city, to plan it with care and with cunning. Yours is to see to your crops, and to take your flocks to new meadows.

Political Stuff Herein.

Oct. 3rd, 2006

Okay, anyone who has actually been reading my journal knows where I have to stand on gay rights. But it might not be so obvious, my recent self-introduction notwithstanding, where I stand otherwise.

Let me put this in the negative, then.

  • I do not believe that any adult anywhere has the right to touch children in a sexual manner. I define “children” here as “human or otherwise sapient minors as defined legally or not less than seven years after physical maturity, whichever comes last.” Yeah, I said “last.” If “maturity” is legally “12” and a kid hits menarche or wet dreams at 9, leave them be until they’re 16, please. Even if local law says you don’t have to do so. If the kid hits menarche or wet dreams at 16, there’s no harm in leaving her or him be until 23. Give them time to get used to the body!
  • I do not believe that anyone has the right to touch nonsapients, even human ones, in a sexual manner. (Artificial insemination of livestock is a problem for me, which I’m studying on.) Whether there is a local law against it or not.
  • Cross-generational incest is psychologically damaging to both parties, and particularly to the weaker (the younger, or the frailly elder) party. It should not be permitted; if legal recourse is inadvisable, I would firmly recommend mandatory counseling.
  • That all being established, and other coercion being excluded, I see no reason not to legally recognize any union of any number of sapient adults for the emotional and financial support of each other and of affiliated dependents.
  • I do not believe men deserve fewer, or more, protections against sexual misconduct than do women. If it would be sexual harassment for a woman, it is sexual harassment for a man. (Thinking here of job “requirements”.) If would be sexual harassment for a man, it is sexual harassment for a woman. (Thinking here of “solicitation” of a stranger for sex – whether money is or is not mentioned should not vary by the gender of the one approached, legally speaking.)
  • I do not believe in the forgiving of sexually-motivated violence, regardless of the context. And by “forgiving,” I mean “responding only outside of the legal system.”
  • I believe that most ethnic violence, especially that which appears to be religious, is actually sexual at its root: one group attempting to control the sexuality and genetic rights of another. (“Civil,” i.e., racial civil rights: see accusations of the rape of white (or otherwise dominant group) women, and accusations of promiscuity and prostitution.)
  • I believe that gender-related violence is sexual at its root: men, sometimes abetted by women, attempting to control the sexuality and genetic rights of others. (“Women’s” civil rights; and “Gay” civil rights: see accusations of promiscuity, prostitution, and solicitation; see also the rage concerning birth control, abortion, and adoption.)
  • I believe that the dismissal of the existence of nonstandard physicality and mentality is genetic at its root: attempting to remove such folk from the genome by a form of “exposure,” causing their deaths by neglect and thereby proving their lack of survivability. (“Handicapped” civil rights: see building standards, mental health departments in hospitals, and Reagan’s “community-based care.”)

Countering all this, I believe firmly in the Ninth Amendment of the United States Constitution: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. Most of the country, for most of its history, has firmly ignored this right.

But by Athene, Apollo, Odin, and Freya: it shall not be so forever.

Open Letter to John C. Wright

Aug. 13th, 2009

In his post More Diversity And More Perversity In The Future, johncwright wrote, in part:

The Sci-Fi Channel (I cannot bring myself to type the phonetic/stupitastic new version of their name) has recoiled in craven fear and trembling when lectured by homosex activists, who gave the SF channel an “F” rating on their political correctness. Alas, the thoughtcrime! Not enough perverts on TV! The children have to be indoctrinated!

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The sexuality summary

May. 12th, 2006

So, if I’m reading the previous correctly, it goes like this:

1. The highest expression of physical love is the creation of new life within a context where those responsible for creating that life will nurture and raise it.

2. Any physical pleasure which does not meet the above standards dehumanizes the participants, turning at least one of them into a “prostitute” or utility for the convenience of the other.

3. When the possibility of the creation of new life within a context where those responsible for creating that life will nurture and raise it is gone, then those people ought to cease engaging in physical pleasure, whether they are married to each other or not.

This leads to the following conclusions on my part of the logical outcomes of this set of statements:

A. A menopausal woman ought not to have sex with her husband. (Or anyone else.)
B. A man whose wife is menopausal ought not to have sex with her (or anyone else).
C. A woman who is currently pregnant ought not to have sex with her husband (or anyone else).
D. Any infertile person ought never to have sex, and probably ought not to be married.
E. Any unmarried person ought not to have sex at all.
F. No parent should die ever until the youngest offspring is at least 18.
G. Therefore, fertile or not, no one over the age of 50 should have sex, lest they inadvertently die before their offspring are completely raised.

OTHERWISE

The female participants are being devalued and dehumanized and turned into sex utilities.

I think that’s it.

What they mean when they say Gays threaten Marriage.

May. 12th, 2006

Finally I have read a detailed, comprehensible, in-their-own-words explanation of why the Christian Right is reacting to sexuality the way it is. The following is culled from a nine-page article, which you should definitely read in its entirety. It may still be freely available; otherwise, the registration with the New York Times is free and worthwhile.

Contra-Contraception
By RUSSELL SHORTO
Published: May 7, 2006
The New York Times Magazine
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In what do Christians believe?

Feb. 1st, 2007


I was just reading an article in The Advocate, a gay-issues national newspaper, entitled Gay marriage re-emerges as legislative issue, written by Brian Lockhart. In it, he quotes State Rep. David Aldarondo, D-Waterbury, as saying: “I am a Christian. I believe in the family, a married man with a woman.”

This got me to thinking: I, a former Christian, indeed a former Fundamentalist Christian, had always thought that Christians believed that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ paid the penalty for their sins, allowing them, on acceptance of the sacrifice, into Heaven without additional sacrifice or time in Hell.

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So I was thinking about the justifications

Apr. 12th, 2007


for denying any recognition of formalized couple status for us homosektchuls.

And I was thinking of it in the context of the rage about women having the God-damned audacity to choose to have a child without the benefit of a present, wedded-to-her father.

And I know I’m preaching to the choir, here, but allow me to get my thoughts in order.

The thing that keeps coming back to me is that there are these limits being put on child-rearing that are mutually incompatible, and also incompatible with the reality of the world.

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