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HTTP_REFERER[sic] === Perl's numify[sic]

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Tom Christiansen
February 28, 2011 05:05
HTTP_REFERER[sic] === Perl's numify[sic]
Message ID:
Remember the horrible gaff of HTTP_REFERER by people whose grasp of
English was too weak to realize it needed to be spelled HTTP_REFERRER? 

Haven't we done the same thing?

    % cd pod; egrep -i 'numi' *.pod
    perl5101delta.pod:object overloads the stringification or the numification operators, and
    perl5110delta.pod:object overloads the stringification or the numification operators, and
    perl5120delta.pod:object overloads the stringification or the numification operators, and
    perlapi.pod:=item vnumify
    perlapi.pod:    sv = vnumify(rv);
    perlapi.pod:    SV*     vnumify(SV *vs)
    perldiag.pod:If you really do mean it, explicitly numify your reference, like so:
    perldiag.pod:however, because you can overload the numification and stringification
    perlsyn.pod:    Num     numish[4] numeric equality         $a == $b
    perltoc.pod:X<upg_version>, vcmp X<vcmp>, vmess X<vmess>, vnormal X<vnormal>, vnumify
    perltoc.pod:X<vnumify>, vstringify X<vstringify>, vverify X<vverify>
    perltoc.pod:=item numify()
    perltoc.pod:new(), qv(), Normal Form, Numification, Stringification, Comparison
    perltoc.pod:=item numify()
    perltoc.pod:=item numify()

I feel those are all spelling mistakes at least as bad as the HTTP_REFERER
error, and arguably even worse Nothing else in English works like the perl
documentation wants people to believe that numify works.  Nothing!  See
below for why.  The numify spelling is anti-English, counter-intuitive, and
downright cacaphonous.

The short story is that for a word to be pronounced /ˈnʌmɨfʌɪ/, it should
be spelled "nummify" like "mummify" /ˈmʌmɨfʌɪ/ and "dummify" /ˈmʌmɨfʌɪ/. 

It should not be spelled "numify" because that would make it like "humify"
/ˈhjuːmɨfaɪ/ and "fumify" /ˈfjuːmɨfaɪ/, and since *nobody* says
/ˈn(j)uːmɨfaɪ/, we shouldn't spell it that way.

The longer story follows.



Our gaffish "numify" is just "nummify" dummified — or perhaps 
undummified, depending how you look at it.  It sure feels dummied. :(

I have never been able to get my mouth around "numify", "numification", 
or "numish".  I feel that they are alien spellings out of joint with the
established norms of English orthograhy, such as they are.  They are 
not euphonious to me.  They are cacophonous. 

The longer story is that is no word with an "umm" in which the "u" takes on
the same value it has in "number" instead of the value it has in "numeric"
etc.  Here are the pronunciations of words with a similar look:

    dummify, v.       /ˈdʌmɪfaɪ/
    mummify, v.  U.K.  /mʌmɨfʌɪ/ , U.S. /ˈməməˌfaɪ/
    humify,  v.¹      /ˈhjuːmɪfaɪ/
    fumify, v.        /ˈfjuːmɪfaɪ/

I cannot read "numify" without thinking of "numinous":

    numinous, adj. (and n.)

    Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈnjuːmɨnəs/ , U.S. /ˈn(j)umənəs/ 

    Etymology:     < classical Latin nūmin-, nūmen numen n. + -ous suffix. 
                   In sense 2 after German (das) Numinöse, (das) Numinose (noun), 
		   numinös (adjective) 
		   (all forms R. Otto Das Heilige (1917) ii. 7, iii. 12).

   1. a.  Of or relating to a numen; revealing or indicating the presence
          of a divinity; divine, spiritual. Also as n.

      b.  In extended use: giving rise to a sense of the spiritually
          transcendent; (esp. of things in art or the natural world)
          evoking a heightened sense of the mystical or sublime; 
	  awe-inspiring. Also as n.

  2. Psychol. Relating to the experience of the divine as awesome or
     terrifying; designating that which governs the subject outside his
     or her own will. Also as n. Cf. numinosum n.

	    numinous, adj. (and n.)
	    Third edition, July 2009; online version November 2010. 
	    <>; accessed 28 February 2011. 
	    An entry for this word was first included 
	    in A Supplement to the OED II, 1976.

Consider the cacaphonous "numification".  Here are the only 
words in the OED that follow the form /[^aeiou]um+ific\B/:

     † ˈfumificate [v.]
       ˈfumificated [ppl. a.] ← ˈfumificate
        humifiˈcation [n.1] ← humify
        humifiˈcation [n.2] ← humify
       ˌplumifiˈcation [n.]
        spumification [n.]

Yes, there is no "ummific" word.  

The only headwords in the OED matching /\b[^aeiou]um+ish/ are:

     † ˈfumish [a.]
     † ˈfumishing [n.]
     † ˈmummish [a.]
     † ˈrummish [v.]
       ˈrummish [a.]

Where "rummish" derives from "rummy", slang for somewhat odd or peculiar.

Here are the /\Bum+if[iey]/ words:

	dummify [v.]
     †  fuˈmiferous [a.]
     †  fuˈmific [a.]
     † ˈfumificate [v.]
       ˈfumificated [ppl. a.] ← ˈfumificate
	fuˈmifugist [n.]
	fumify [v.]
	gummiferous [a.]
	humefy [n.] → humify
     †  huˈmiferous [a.]
     †  humific [a.]
	humifiˈcation [n.1] ← humify
	humifiˈcation [n.2] ← humify
       ˈhumified [ppl. a.] ← humify
	humifuse [a.]
	humify [v.1]
	humify [v.2]
	lumiflavin [n.]
	mummification [n.]
	mummified [a.]
	mummiform [a.]
	mummify [v.]
       ˈmummifying [vbl. n.] ← mummify
	nummiform [a.] ← nummi-

One interesting word there si "gummiferous", which means producing gum 
and is pronounced /gʌˈmɪfərəs/. But "nummiform" is not what one might
think it is: it's related to money, not to numbers, as in numismatic.
And it's pronounced /ˈnəmiˌfɔ(ə)rm/.

There's also a word "nummy", meaning something delicious and yummy,
and is pronounced /ˈnʌmi/ in the U.K. and /ˈnəmi/ in the U.S.

Finally, here are all the /n+um[ei]/ words:

	alphanumeric [a.]
     †  aˈnnumerate [ppl. a.]
     †  aˈnnumerate [v.]
     †  aˌnnumeˈration [n.]
	Barnumize [v.]
	coˈnnumerate [v.]
	connumeˈration [n.]
	contenument [n.] → contenement
	co-ˈnumerary [a.]
	co-ˈnumerous [a.]
	denumerability [n.]
	denumerable [a.]
	deˈnumerably [adv.] ← denumerable
	deˈnumerant [n.]
	denumerantive [a.] ← deˈnumerant
     †  deˈnumerate [v.]
	denumeration [n.]
	dinumeˈration [n.]
	enumer [v.]
	enumerability [n.]
	enumerable [n.] → innumerable
	enumerable [a.]
	eˈnumerably [adv.] ← enumerable
     †  eˈnumerate [pa. pple.]
	enumerate [v.]
	eˈnumerated [ppl. a.] ← enumerate
	enumeration [n.]
	enumerative [a.]
	enumerator [n.]
	equinumerally [n.] → equi-
     †  equiˈnumerally [adv.] ← equi-
     †  equiˈnumerant [a.] ← equi-
	exonumia [n.]
	iˌnnumeraˈbility [n.]
	innumerable [a.]
	iˈnnumerableness ← innumerable
	iˈnnumerably [adv.] ← innumerable
	innumeracy [n.]
     †  iˈnnumeral [a.]
	iˈnnumerate [n.] → enumerate
	innumerate [a.]
     †  iˈnnumered [a.]
	innumerous [a.]
	manument [n.] → manyment
     †  manumisable [a.]
     †  manumise [v.]
     †  manumised [ppl. a.] ← manumise
     †  manumiss [n.]
	manumission [n.]
	manuˈmissive [a.]
     †  manumit [n.]
	manumit [v.]
	manuˈmitted [ppl.] ← manumit
	manuˈmitter ← manumit
	minum(e [n.] → minim
	minument [n.] → muniment
	moniment [n.] → monument
	monoment [n.] → monument
	monument [n.]
	monument [v.]
	monumental [a.]
	Monumental City [n.]
	monumentalism [n.]
	monumenˈtality ← monumental
	monuˌmentaliˈzation ← monumentalize
	monumentalize [v.]
	monuˈmentalizing [vbl. n.] ← monumentalize
	monumentally [adv.]
	monumental mason ← monumental [a. and n.]
	monumental masonry ← monumental [a. and n.]
	monumental sculptor ← monumental [a. and n.]
	monumental sculpture ← monumental [a. and n.]
	monumentary [a.]
     †  monument candlestick ← monument
	Monument City ← monument
	monumented [ppl. a.]
	monumenter [n.]
       ˈmonumentless [a.]
	munument [n.] → muniment
	noumeracioun [n.] → numeration
	nume [n.] → nim
	numelarien [n.] → nummularian
	numen [n.] → nim
	numen [n.]
	numeraˈbility ← numerable
	numerable [a.]
	numerableness ← numerable
	numeracy [n.]
	numeraire [n.]
	numeral [a.]
     †  numeˈrality [n.]
     † ˈnumerally [adv.]
     † ˈnumerant [n.]
	numerary [a.]
	numerate [a.2]
       ˈnumerate [pa. pple.]
       ˈnumerate [v.]
       ˈnumerated [ppl. a.] ← ˈnumerate
	numeration [n.]
       ˈnumerative [a.]
	numerator [n.]
	numeric [a.]
	numerical [a.]
	nuˈmerically [adv.]
	numerically controlled ← numerically [adv.]
	nuˈmericalness [n.]
	numerical taxonomy ← numerical [a. and n.]
	numerical value ← numerical [a. and n.]
     †  numeriˈcation [n.]
	numeric keypad ← numeric [a. and n.]
	numeric pad ← numeric [a. and n.]
       ˈnumerist [n.]
     ‖  numéro [n.2]
     † ˈnumero [n.1]
	numero [adv.]
	numeroˈlogical [a.] ← numerology
	numeˈrologist ← numerology
	numerology [n.]
     †  numerose [a.]
	numerosity [n.]
     ‖  numero uno [n.]
	numerous [a.]
       ˈnumerously [adv.]
       ˈnumerousness [n.]
     ‖  numerus clausus [n.]
     † ˈnumery [n.]
	Numic [a. (and n.]
	Numidian [n.]
	Numidian crane ← Numidian
	Numidian marble ← Numidian [n. and a.]
       ˈnuminal [a.]
	numiˈnosity ← numinous
     ‖  numinosum [n.]
	numinous [a.]
     †  numinously [adv.] ← numinous
     †  numisˈmarian [a.]
	numismatic [a.]
     †  numisˈmatical [a.] ← numismatic
	numisˈmatically [adv.] ← numismatic
	numismaˈtician ← numismatic
	numismatist [n.]
	numismaˈtography [n.]
	numismaˈtologist [n.]
	numismaˈtology [n.]
     †  outˈnumen [ppl. a.]
       ˈover-ˈnumerous [a.] ← ˈover-ˈnumber
     †  reˈnumerate [v.]
     †  renumeˈration ← reˈnumerate
	renumerative [a.]
	soˈlignumed [a.] ← Solignum
     †  superˈnumeral [a.]
	superˈnumerariness [n.]
	supernumerary [a.]
	superˈnumeraryship ← supernumerary
     †  superˈnumerate [v.]
     †  superˈnumerous [a.]
     †  table-monument ← table
	uneˈnumerable [a.]
	uneˈnumerated [ppl. a.]
	unmanuˈmitted [ppl. a.]
	unˈmonumented [ppl. a.]
     †  unˈnumerable [a.]
     †  unˈnumerableness ← unˈnumerable
     †  unˈnumerably [adv.] ← unˈnumerable
	utnume(nn [n.] → outnumen(ly
     †  utˈnumenly [adv.] ← outˈnumen

There, see what I mean?


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