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Sunday, June 14, 2015

How Can This Possibly Be Right?

Each of the previous installments in the "Can This Be Right?" series included three words that leave me scratching my head every time I hear or run across them in print. Today's word needs a post all to itself. See if you agree. Better yet, share one or more of your own with me and others.

A group of three musicians is a trio. Four musicians = quartet. Three children born at the same time to the same woman are triplets. Four children = quadruplets. A series or group of three plays, novels, operas, etc. closely related in theme, sequence, or the like is called a trilogy.

So, what are John Updike's four novels featuring Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom or Richard Ford's four novels featuring Frank Bascombe called? That's right, a tetralogy. If this is not a case that makes you ask "Can This Be Right?", try this experiment. Type the word tetralogy on your PC and watch as Spellcheck underlines it in red. Then find it in your low tech dictionary (don't depend on the Internet, please) and scratch your head along with me. Come on! Why not a quadrology? Or, at minimum, some word that has qua or quad in it? Like quartet, quadruplet, quadrant, quarter, quadraphonic, quadrangle, etc.

But tetralogy? How can this possibly be right?

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