usingtherightwords

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What the Hell is a “Natch” and a “Nigh?”


While reading the current issue of Time magazine, I came across two words I can’t believe someone wrote. One was very old and the other was very slangy.

I’ll address them in order I read them. The article, detailing a Japanese clothier’s strategies, had this: “He dresses casually in a plaid shirt and brown pants — his own label, natch — and underlines his brand loyalty …”

This wasn’t the first time I had come across natch. When I have, I pause because I don’t know what that means. Then I continue reading as if I had never read it.

But this time, I looked it up. Natch, my dictionary revealed, is a slang term from about 1945 that is a shortened form of the word naturally. It also means “of course.”

Why do we need to shorten naturally? It’s a perfectly decent word. I can’t remember ever hearing anyone use it. I’ve only read it.

Later in the same article, on the same page, I read this: “[M]anagement experts have been preaching it to Japanese firms … for nigh on two decades.”

I remember reading nigh in Shakespeare, perhaps in a sonnet or in a poetic passage in one of his plays. My dictionary shows the word does go back to the 12th century (or hundreds of years before Shakespeare) and means “near” as a preposition and “to come near” as a verb.

So, is the article’s author, Michael Schuman, in the 12th or 20th century? He’s using the words correctly, but both stuck out when I came across them, and I remember my journalism instructors teaching that any pause might cause a reader to stop reading.

In my case, it caused me to blog about it.

A nigh for a nigh, a natch for a natch.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

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May 8, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Day is done, gone the sun
    From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
    All is well, safely rest
    God is nigh.
    Fading light dims the sight
    And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
    From afar, drawing near
    Falls the night.
    Thanks and praise for our days
    Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
    As we go, this we know
    God is nigh.

    Comment by Anne Davies | May 8, 2013 | Reply


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