008. Playing With Prefixes

“Upskill to fast track your career” the tagline in the newspaper ad said. That started it.  Upskill! What a word! If there can be a word like ‘upskill’, why not ‘downskill’ to describe a case where somebody has forgotten previously learned skills?

Then, similarly, since you have ‘uplift’ you should also have ‘downlift’ to describe the opposite of uplift. Do you agree? It has to be ‘downlift’, because, ‘updrop’ sounds more ridiculous. That’s unless, of course, you opt for ‘downdrop’.

And you must either diverge or converge, but not remain on the verge.

Sign, resign, design, and redesign. These four words can literally turn your world upside down. First you sign something. Fine! When you put your signature to the same document once again, as if to indicate your firm resolve to stand by what you have signed earlier, as for example, that cheque you wrote in my favour, it should be said that you have resigned the cheque. But if you withdraw your signature, it should be called design. But, now tell me what I should do with redesign. This re and de together will send any computer program in an unending loop!

When you are touring and are required to take a detour, I recommend that you take a retour at the end of the detour; if you want to continue your original tour.

You encircle something when you sort of draw a circle around something, right? Now, if you erase that circle, should we say that you decircled it?

You understand something the other person has said or something you have read. What exactly is happening when you overstand something? Are you understanding more than what is being said or what the print says – reading between the lines, as it were?

Like you underplay or downplay something not very flattering, shouldn’t you overplay or upplay and call it advertisement or sales pitch?

Undercut and overcut are clear enough, but what would a sidecut be like? Sounds like a left or right abdominal incision to me, really!

The first thing is to take action. Do something. Don’t worry if it is not right, for Microsoft has got it all correctly figured out. If it is not right, just undo it. Then reconsider it and redo it. Simple. There are buttons for that and they work. That’s why Nike says ‘just do it’ (leave the rest to MS!).

Some people, whom we don’t like, are upstarts. What should the downstarts be like, I mean apart from being likeable to us?  Those who start much below their potential and remain below it? And, how about the ‘levelstarts’? How would we describe them? That majority, nothing to write home about?

And then you have this duo: underpaid and overpaid. We are pretty much clear about the meaning of both these words, although people’s opinions will differ on what is overpaid and what is underpaid. The point to note here is that whosoever is paid, always considers himself underpaid, and whosoever is paying or not getting paid, thinks of the same amount as overpayment. Gives you the perspective, what else! But think of somebody not being overpaid or underpaid, but sidepaid. What kind of a payment would that be?

Do invented things get deinvented before being reinvented?

And here is a gem. I must admit, this one is not my invention, though I wish it were. I read it a very long time ago in the Readers Digest. A lady started a home business. But she didn’t know how to write accounts. So her husband advised her to draw up two columns on a paper (this was during a few years b.c. – before computers) and name them ‘Income’ and ‘Outgo’. The difference between the two, he assured her, would certainly be, the ‘Outcome.’ Brilliant! Sums up all accountancy in these three unforgettable words!

That brings us back to where we started: Upskilling. With English showing signs of such changes, days are not far away when English will look something like ”He upstood and outwent.” (again, not invented here!) I wouldn’t be surprised if the words written above find a place in the next edition of the dictionary.

And, just before we part, here is my last poser: what should you call a person who weighs his words, speaks inoffensively and therefore liked by all? Inspoken?

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