I'm Feeling Gruntled
Thursday, April 4, 2019

Section: News

By David Osborn, CBRE 

English is a strange language. Not only can words be spelled similarly but pronounced completely differently (through, cough, though, rough…), but we also have words for which we use the negative, but not the positive. Let me explain.

Your old Aunt Sally who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, called you the other day on a bright, sunny day here in SoCal, but where it was… well… winter in Wisconsin. Although it’s currently spring here in the land of no seasons, it is still (STILL) winter in Wisconsin. When talking about the weather, old Aunt Sally describes the approaching storm as “Inclement” weather. You, living in the land of no seasons, describe the typical sunny weather that we are having as being “Clement” weather. “Yes, it’s very Clement weather we are having right now, Aunt Sally.”

HOLD ON A MINUTE! Nobody (NOBODY!) ever describes a bright, beautiful day in SoCal as being “Clement” weather. But doesn’t it make sense that if there is a negative word (“Inclement”) there must first have been a positive version (“Clement”)? But nobody real person ever says that. (Full disclosure – this serious Columnist just Googled “Define: clement” and there actually is a definition for pleasant, mild weather. But what does Google know? This Columnist is sticking to his original premise that NOBODY ever uses “Clement” when speaking. Seriously. Read on.)

The same can be said about “Gruntled”. If DISgruntled refers, for instance, to a customer who is not 100% pleased with a store’s services, once the customer’s issue is resolved, is that customer now “Gruntled”? Are stores training their employees to make sure to make every customer Gruntled? I think it was Sam Walton of WalMart fame who said “A Satisfied Customer is a Gruntled Customer!” Or how about using the motto “We won’t be happy until you are 100% Gruntled!” (Do me a favor and don’t Google this one, OK? Just take my word.)

So, be honest with me here. How would you respond if old Aunt Sally (the one who lives in Madison, Wisconsin where it is STILL winter) referred to your child (of whom you are very proud) as being a “Ruly” child, as in “I’ve seen pictures of (insert the name of your “Ruly-est” child here) and he looks like such a Ruly little boy!” 
Tell me that you wouldn’t think this was the rudest thing that old Aunt Sally could ever say, even when you take into account that it is STILL winter there and that she may not be of sound mind due to the past six months of cold, Inclement weather…

So, do you get my point and isn’t it valid (Google aside)? The English language is full of so many conflicting words that it is downright exhausting to comprehend. Oh my gosh! There’s another one! If someone can be EXhausted – a negative - can someone be INhausted? So if you aren’t EXhausted but, rather, full of energy… are you INhausted or just Hausted? (You can Google this one. Google says there ain’t no such word as either INhausted or Hausted.)

The moral here is you have my permission to freely use the words “Gruntled”, “Ruly” and “Clement” as positive, cheery expressions as opposed to their negative counterparts. Celebrate the idiosyncrasies of the English language while at the same time puzzling your friends!

And don’t be surprised when old Aunt Sally tries to use the word “Hausted” in Scrabble the next time you visit her in Madison, Wisconsin.