Mr. Spock Knows How to Pronounce “Exacerbate”

I am not Spock. 


Aside from the obvious differences of not being male, from another planet, or possessive of pointy ears, my main divergence from the world’s most recognizable Vulcan is that I am not so fully steeped in logical thought that I am impervious to feeling stupid. 

Now there is a distinction between feeling stupid and obsessing over what other people think — regarding the latter I try to sail through life doing my own thing, not stepping on anyone’s face in the process, but simultaneously  not letting what I think other people think affect the way I act. This, I’m sure Spock would say, is logical. 

Unfortunately, I am not so thick-skinned — green or not — that I can slip on the ice in front of a group of people and limp away, dignity intact. (Quite frankly, how would Spock react in this situation?) 

But real life happens and stupid things intrude upon our lives, and we frequently find ourselves extricating our fragile egos from less than desireable situations, ones, incidentally, that we usually bring upon ourselves. 

Yesterday I was working with Scott, the Incredible Computer Man, to set up my new laptop (as far as I know, other than my parents, I am the last person in this region of the country to have a laptop), when he pointed out that I might want to purchase a wireless mouse for ease of use. 

“Okay. So show me where that plugs in.” 

One reason that Scott is such an Incredible Computer Man is that he addresses all questions as if they were intelligent ones. 

Afternoon Waves, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

 The Norwegian Artist possesses a similar talent. Years ago, in our dating days, I was being attacked by an earnest young man who wanted to drag me, trussed up and gagged, into the Kingdom by arguing me out of all rational thought. In contrast to this Attacking Apostle, the Norwegian Artist patiently answered questions that he knew the answers to and freely admitted when  he didn’t know the answers to others. 

“So did John the Baptist write the book of John?” 

You know, a good Catholic girl really should have known the answer to this, but I never could keep track of all the saints, and John is such a well-used name. The Norwegian Artist smiled and said something along the lines of No, he didn’t really have the head for that. 

This uncanny ability to phrase things in unusual ways is apparently genetic, the most memorable incident within our family involving the College Girl back when she was called the Flaxen-Haired Toddler and she wore a new dress to church. 

“So, did you get any comments on your dress?” I asked, having made the dress and wanting others to recognize its stunning impact yet amazing simplicity. 

A look of concern passed over her face as she looked down at the dress: “No. Do they wash out?” 

Tired of Being Youngest once frustrated her Pictionary partner (that would be me) by drawing a hand and a Christmas fir and circling the two over and over until the timer ran out and the pen tore through the paper to the table below. 

“It was a palm tree!” she wailed. 

Little One, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

 In addition to our ability to make memorably embarrassing comments, we all manage to mangle the pronunciation of the English language to such a degree that outsiders assume that we are first generation Norwegians and Poles, as opposed to third. 

“Sew — Krates was an amazing man,” the Son and Heir observed regarding Socrates. He was also impressed by Geh — Heng — Iss — Can. 

College Girl talked about the importance of Koop-er-ation on her first day at a new high school. 

Tired of Being Youngest wondered if the Jenners on Netflix (Genres) reflected someone’s inability to spell general titles. 

A kind friend mentioned that frequently, people who read a lot also mispronounce a lot, because much of the vocabulary that they encounter is rarely heard in everyday speech. 

Honestly, when is the last time that you said, aloud, exacerbate or egregious? 

It should not be any surprise that a good portion of us in this family look up when someone barks out, “There’s an elephant on the ceiling!” 

And while cynical and jaded people look upon this tendency as, well, stupid, I consider it a positive sign that, while we may be very very literal in the way we speak and think, we have not descended to the level of cynicism and jadedness of the jokers who laugh at our ingenuousness. We stop, realize that we have said something of less than stellar intelligence, laugh, and move on. 

Cantata -- Original Oil by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art

About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
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17 Responses to Mr. Spock Knows How to Pronounce “Exacerbate”

  1. Jala says:

    I love, love, love this post!
    I chuckled over the flaxen-haired-new-church-dress anecdote.

    I really enjoy your posts. Very nice!

    Where else do you publish?

    • Thank you, Jala. You make my day!
      I publish a column twice monthly in our Walla Walla Union Bulletin, (Walla Walla, WA) and I am slowly working on getting myself syndicated. If you want to see my work in your local newspaper, please contact them and give them this link. I would love to build my column base in print media.

  2. Pingback: Mr. Spock Knows How to Pronounce “Exacerbate” (via Middleagedplague’s Blog) « Laura Barbosa's Heart of Art Blog

  3. Radhika says:

    Great writing!! I’m really impressed by your take on Spock and the progression of ideas through the piece. Gives me heart for my own special un-spock moments.:) All the best with the syndication. Let me know of a weblink where I could read more of your work. All the best.


    • Thank you for your kind words.
      As much as I think Spock is a great guy, I’ve always been a Captain Kirk girl myself. Of course, ever since I met the Norwegian Artist, even Kirk wasn’t good enough!

  4. stewartry says:

    Hm. Considering there is no ice on Vulcan, and Starfleet Academy is in San Francisco, young Spock might not have seen so very much ice. I picture him sitting next to the ice patch with a tricorder trying to solve the mystery (which I never realized really is a mystery) of why ice is slippery.

    Kirk would turn it into an opportunity to flirt with any girl who happened to be nearby. McCoy would swear the air blue and say “Dammit, I’m a doctor, not a figure skater!” Scotty would also curse, and then limp off for a shot of usquebaugh. Chekov would claim that ice was inwented by a liddle old lady in Leningrad. Sulu would laugh at himself along with anyone else nearby. Uhura would be arrested for indecent exposure in that skirt, and then be shipped to the hospital for treatment for hypothermia.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist! The Trekkie muscles haven’t atrophied after all!

    While working in a bookstore I once, er, impressed a young, attractive man with an example of “people who read a lot also mispronounce a lot” by jokingly offering him a thrilling book called Solder and Soldering. You know I pronounced the L’s. I think, appropriately enough, you could read by the red glow from my face when he, very gently, corrected me.

    I love this post – thank you!

  5. Can totally related to not knowing how to pronounce words that you’ve become quite familiar in print; especially ones with foreign roots. On the flip side, knowing a foreign language (French) keeps me virtually unable to pronounce the French words now used in English (like “aurevoir” and “bon apetite”), and make them sound English, and not French 🙂 Result? Folks not understanding my perfect French pronunciation and “correcting” my English.

    • Try saying “mango” the Spanish way, which does NOT rhyme with “tango.” For once, we pronounce something right, and everyone jumps on us.

      Keep saying those French phrases the way they’re supposed to be said, along with that swallowed, nasalized “r.” It’s such a pretty language, and I envy your knowing it (I’m working on it, but the Spanish gets in the way and confuses me even more!)

  6. girlonthecontrary says:

    Wonderful post! I loved the way your ideas and anecdotes flowed together. Thanks for the chuckles as well!

  7. “[…]I am not so fully steeped in logical thought that I am impervious to feeling stupid.”

    In my experience, the smarter or more logical humans (I can, obviously, not speak for Vulcans) are, the more they tend to be aware of their own stupidity and limitations. In fact, where “gifted” are concerned, the concept of is quite common. A similar phenomenon is–Kruger_effect

  8. Great blog and very informative and you doing a great job.

  9. braonthree says:

    Mr. Henderson’s style appeals to me. I could wish his colors more highly saturated, but the style is very, very nice.

    • Thank you for your comment on the Norwegian Artist, and I encourage you to check out his website at The coloration of the works posted on the Norwegian Artist word press site do not come through with their full vibrancy, and, as hard as artists try, it is difficult to fully reproduce the sense of a painting in digital form. Steve frequently uses color in its pure state, seeking a vibrancy and energy in his palette without tipping over into garrishness.

      If you are ever in the Scottsdale, AZ area, you may see Steve’s work in person at Rive Gauche Galleries ( under “traditional” painters); in Oregon, Steve’s work may be found in one of two of the Lawrence Gallery venues (, Sheridan and Gleneden Beach, OR. Very few people find themselves wandering through Dayton, WA, but should you ever find yourself here, our studio is open with the latest work before it heads to galleries or shows. We love visitors!

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