Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Extraordinary: it's on everyone's lips/Extra Ordinary: you bring it to your lips!

It started with the dinner drinks, from a bottle of claret, to be precise. But more on this later...

Being the incurable literalitist, I have problems with words like inflammable, invaluable and priceless. Then there is extraordinary. Okay, this word is supposed to mean "beyond what is usual or ordinary" -- in other words, remarkable or exceptional.

But should not extraordinary mean "so ordinary that it (the subject or object) is even more ordinary than ordinary"? Its standard pronunciation is bad enough -- "axe-straw-dee-nary". But it dislocates my senses even more when Nat King Cole stretches it and renders it into "extra ordinary" in that classic song L-O-V-E:


Nevertheless, extraordinary is such an appealingly evocative word that it is often on everyone's lips. Poets and philosophers love it. Politicians love it (Mr Lee Kuan Yew himself has used it). Motivational speakers can't get enough of it. Writers and movie makers milk it:

So how did I get started on this exposition about extraordinary? It was uncorked by the bottle of excellent claret our two dear friends -- a married couple whom we have known for the longest time -- brought with them to our dining table:

Claret is the British term for red wine sourced from France's Bordeaux region. This 2011 BB&R was really excellent and complemented the meal we had. But later, the nitpicker in me asked: Why the self-effacing "Extra Ordinary Claret" and not the marketing-savvy "Extraordinary Claret"?

I had to slake my curiosity. Happily, I found the answer in the bottlers' website, under the heading "The History of Extra Ordinary Claret":


Finally, here's another trivia tidbit: Claret originally meant "clear" or "of a pale colour", not the deep red that it has come to mean in contemporary usage:



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