Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Extremly (for Extremely)

When we all were very small (rub-a-dub-dub, three girls in a tub), my sisters and I would often take our nighttime bath together. I can still picture the youngest one, dripping on the mat, waiting impatiently for our mother to come in with a towel, and plaintively wailing, "I'm pitched! I'm pitched!" It took me a while to figure it out, but I finally realized why she put it like that. Extrapolating from the phrase "pitch black" or "pitch dark," she would sometimes say "pitch cold" (assuming that "pitch" must mean very, or extremely) and in her post-bath pinch would then simply shorten it to "pitched." It also brings to mind the idea of helping out or "pitching in" (it takes a family to take a bath); the imperious pitch of my little sister's voice; and the image of tiny tents (aka goose bumps) being pitched on one's shivering flesh. Today's typo is not an extremely common one, but let me pitch it to you this way: there was only one of these in OhioLINK, and 223 in WorldCat, though if you find some in your own catalog, you'll have a nice warm feeling once you get them all cleaned up.

(Jules Being Dried by His Mother, by Mary Cassatt, 1900, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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