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Some friends have informed me of a couple of additional passive periphrastics in English. One is memorandum, a word that really ought to have been remembered in my first post. Another, surprisingly, is pudenda: it’s from the verb pudere meaning “to be ashamed,” so it essentially means “things of which one ought to be ashamed.” Two words that were suggested but don’t qualify are “corundum,” which despite the promising ending is from a Tamil word for a gemstone, and “carborundum,” which began as a trademark formed by combining the words “carbon” and “corundum.” The Latin-sounding word “carborundum” has also been immortalized in the mock-Latin joke phrase illegitimi non carborundum, translated as “Never let the bastards wear you down.” A variant of this is nolite te bastardes carborundorum, which is the version that appears in Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale.

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