“Frangible” is non-fungible

It’s not often that I can talk about day-job stuff here. After all, most of what comprises my day is the sort of strategic thing that would be Bad For Novell to have as common knowledge. Not sex-lies-and-videotape stuff, mind you. I’m talking product plans, competitive advantages, and nasty things I’m preparing to do to my dim-witted and evil competitors.

No, usually the Novell stuff I need to talk about I talk about at Novell. But THIS time I’ve got a gaffe I need to excise publicly.

I said “frangible” when I meant “fungible.”

I said it in a presentation to 50 of the most influential people in the company.

My buddy and self-styled nemesis Ted called me on it, right down to the “you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

“Frangible” means “easily broken.”
“Fungible” means “interchangable.”

Thus, in context, “frangible” is non fungible, and its inappropriate use rendered my entire presentation rather frangible.

How embarrassing.

In other news, just this morning I learned how to pronounce “autochthon” (aw-TOCK-thun) and managed to use it in a casual conversation. Sadly, that experience failed fungibility for redemption from this afternoon’s gaffe.

Had my vocabulary been a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun, I would have put my eye out by now.


9 thoughts on ““Frangible” is non-fungible”

  1. Yeah, I know that pain (or rather one very similar), in that
    I mispronounce a lot of words subtly. Unfortunately I’ve been
    hearing impaired since early on in my educational career so I just…
    didn’t hear a lot of things right and still don’t (further, the
    mis-speak is not always audible to me[1]). So I try to channel most
    people to email (or similar textual forms) if at all possible.
    Of course, this is in addition to the standard brain contagions
    you pick up going to college in a place like Texas where your CS
    profs might spend all semester saying queue as “kwee” instead of “kyoo”
    and other bizarre oddities of Texan-English.

    FWIW at work (Tocquigny Advertising if you’re curious, I’m a
    programmer-and-systems-admin for the gearhead web-app/web-advert
    portion of the company) today we talked about Novell in the coder
    pen some. (It came up because of Ximian and the Connector thing,
    in turn because all of us are using personal *nix laptops[2] instead of
    the work-provided windows machines, tethered only by Outhouse,er,look
    for calendaring and such.) Anyway, all of us are pretty excited about
    the sort of stuff y’all seem to be shooting for, if that makes the
    work-stress any more bearable. 😉

    [1] another example was trying (and failing) to learn the differences in
    voiced and voiceless consonants in Russian (which I picked for my foreign
    language requirement at ut-austin mainly on the basis of a cool-looking
    [2] debian linux, freebsd, and macos x in my particular team.

  2. This vaguely reminds me of a story my grandfather always used to tell about when he was at a company dinner, and he had to introduce like 100 people who he had never known before. He managed to pull it off flawlessly, remembering all the names, but then choked on remembering names of coworkers he’d worked with for years.

    Very dissimilar stories, of course, but it still reminded me. Memory and Association works in odd ways.

  3. However….

    …there’s nothing inherently contradictory about frangibility and fungibility. For instance, ammunition is fungible, and some special-purpose ammunition is also frangible. (There’s a number of ways of accomplishing this, but …. no, that’s another discussion entirely.)

    For the record, frangible is often misused as a synonym for fragile, but my understanding has always been that whereas fragile simply means “easily broken”, frangible (at least as currently used) carries more of a connotation that an item has been specifically designed to break easily (and often in a controlled manner). Thus, the wine glass in your hand is fragile, while the tempered safety glass in your car window is frangible.

    1. Too easy…

      While none of the characters would use those words in dialog, putting fungible, frangible, and autochthonous in a single footnote would be simple.


  4. Hi, Howard. Been reading Schlock since late 2000. Anyway, I just thought you’d like to know that, in an odd bit of synchronicity, “autochthonous” was the winning word in the just-completed 77th annual National Spelling Bee. I saw the story that it had won and thought, “Where did I just see that word?” A quick minute later, and there it (almost) was.

    Ah, timing. Are you ever not the secret of comedy?

    P.S. “Autochthonous” chokes LiveJournal’s spellchecker, which amuses me as well.

    1. Timing of the word “autochthonous”

      I checked, just to be sure. According to CNN the spelling bee was won on Thursday (today.) “Autochthonous” was the dictionary.com word-of-the-day on Wednesday.

      SOMETIMES the WotD is lifted from current events, and I thought that might have been the case here, but apparently it’s not.


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