Grammar Guerilla: Comfort v Comfortability

travolta-discoIn recent years a number of ersatz words have entered the popular vocabulary (particularly in sports broadcasting). One of the chief offenders is “comfortability.” Comfortability, as in, “He shows great comfortability moving the pocket” is a classic example of the practice of adding unnecessary intensifiers. We assume that if we intensify words that people will receive them more readily. It isn’t so. The words we want are comfortable as in, ‘He’s very comfortable making a three-step drop” or comfort as in “he finds comfort in the return of his starting left tackle.”  The addition of the intensifier —ity, which creates a new abstract noun, simply replaces the current words comfort and comfortable.

Comfortability is verbal junk. We don’t need it. It’s the linguistic equivalent of those horrible faux silk shirts we wore during the disco era or velour seat covers. It seemed like a good idea at the time but, on reflection, it was a bad idea.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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22 comments

  1. I don’t think it’s crossed the pond yet, but I suppose that when it does, it will have great comfortablility in doing so.
    Oops, what HAVE I done?

  2. My pet peeves are things like symbology and “he seen the accident!” Whatever happened to saw?

  3. “My pet peeves are things like symbology and “he seen the accident!” Whatever happened to saw?”

    ‘Saw’ is a past tense verb showing action in the past. With the triumph of evolutionary humanism over the West’s traditional Biblical-based worldview and its linear view of history that has its’ opening chapter with “In the beginning God…” history has been relegated to the dustbin in preference of continuous change. Hence we are living in the ever-changing, ever-present ‘now’ which calls for present and present participles. Therefore ‘writes’ replaces wrote just as ‘sees’ replaces saw.

  4. I have never heard the ‘word’ comfortability, but maybe I don’t watch enough sports. I think in 2014 I only watched like 20 hours worth, most of that March Madness.

    ANYWAYS, I would similarly like to ban the utilization of the word ‘utilize’. I challenge anybody to come up with a situation where ‘use’ couldn’t be utilized just as well. People would normally utilize ‘use’ in common speech, they only utilize ‘utilize’ when they are trying to sound impressive.

  5. @John Rokos

    “But that doesn’t explain “seen”, does it?”

    The purpose of my response was not to conjugate the verb ‘see’ in all tenses but rather explain the disappearance of past tense verbs in relation to the erasure of traditional Biblical-based Western history.

  6. RubeRad, to me, “I feel utilized” means something else from “I feel used”. Challenge met?

    • I think I can now define “utilize” more precisely. To me, it means “bring into use”.

  7. And Dr Clark, if someone is dying in Congo of unrelieved gallstones, he may have comfort with just the Word of God, but if he wants comfortability as well, he needs morphine as well. Which may be why the late Myrddin Thomas drew himself up to his full four and a half feet (or so) and said with all the force he could muster, “C.T.Studd was addicted to MORPHINE”.

    • I think it is related to the difference between “comforted” and “comfortable”. If you have received comfort, you will have be comforted, but you may not be comfortable. To me, comfortability is the ability to be comfortable.

  8. Linda, wow, talk about over-interpretation. But the instance of something like “He seen the accident” may owe more to old-fashioned bad learning. I know, not as sexy as connecting it to undermining western civilization and biblical based western civ (whatever that may be), but a lot more likely.

    • @ Zrim: “wow, talk about over-interpretation. But the instance of something like “He seen the accident” may owe more to old-fashioned bad learning. I know, not as sexy as connecting it to undermining western civilization and biblical based western civ (whatever that may be), but a lot more likely”

      “Thought crime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for awhile…but sooner or later they were bound to get you.” George Orwell, 1984

      The metaphor “iron curtain” has been used to describe twentieth century totalitarian pagan states such as the Soviet Union. Why iron curtain? Answer: through terror, force, constant fear, treachery, brain-altering drugs, dehumanization via indoctrination with Darwinism, and psychological manipulation and trauma men’s minds were narrowly confined within psychic cages.

      Whether identified as brainwashing, mind-control, or psycho-politics, thought-control is part of a program of psycho political terrorism utilized by Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and the Communists after they seized control of Orthodox Christian Russia and put into practice long-term plans to abolish on a vast cultural scale every vestige of belief in the Biblical God, creation ex nihilo, the traditional family, morality, private property, the West’s traditional linear view of history, and other signs of “the capitalist petite Bourgeoisie.” By way of various sadistically brutal forms of behavior modification, torture, psychotropic drug experimentation, re-education, and psychological terror tactics, Russians were terrorized into submission while Communists systematically stole their property, confiscated and perverted their children, desecrated and blasphemed churches, crucified thousands of nuns and priests, and in general, committed monstrous crimes against humanity which took the lives of sixty-million men, women, and children. For example:

      “About 200,000 clergy, many crucified, scalped and otherwise tortured, were killed during the approximately 60 years of communist rule in the former Soviet Union, a Russian commission reported this week. In addition, another 500,000 religious figures were persecuted and 40,000 churches destroyed in the period from 1922 to 1980, the report said. Half the country’s mosques and more than half the synagogues were also destroyed” Clergymen were crucified on churches’ holy gates, shot, scalped [and] strangled,”said Alexander Yakovlev, head of the Commission for the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Political Repression. The commission prepared the report for Russian President Boris Yeltsin. “I was especially shocked by accounts of priests turned into columns of ice in winter,” Yakovlev said. “It was total cruelty.” (http://www.paulbogdanor.com/left.html)

      Natan Sharansky, a dissident in the former Soviet Union describes the “iron curtain” as a tyranny where,

      “…there were no dissidents (because) they were simply killed immediately.” Under the terrorist-tactics of hate crime laws, speech codes, and other mind-control tactics, everyone became double thinkers. To outside observers notes Sharansky, double thinkers appear as true believers: “everybody says the same thing, everybody votes the same way, everybody speaks with passion.” But it is an illusion caused by fear of speaking the truth. These people, he noted, “live with self-censorship throughout their lives. Since the regime demands loyalty right from childhood, many don’t even notice. They just automatically control how they express themselves.” But when a “fear society disappears or becomes weak, people suddenly start saying what they feel,” Sharansky commented, and “It’s such a big relief.”

      To determine if a society is fear-based, as America is becoming, Sharansky applies what he defines as the “town square test.” In this test if you,

      “can go to the center of town and publicly express your views without being punished, you have a free society” even though that society may not be just. However, if you are “punished for your views you live in a fear society,”said Sharansky. “In such societies there are always three types of population: True believers, who accept the ideology…dissidents, who take risks to speak publicly; and double thinkers, who have doubts or disagreements about the official ideology but are afraid to express them publicly.” In conclusion, Sharansky comments that the level “of dissidence is always a function of how tough the regime is.” (The Power of Freedom, published in The American Enterprise, Apr/May 2005, pp. 38-39)

      There are two misconceptions held by most Americans. The first is that communism ceased to be a threat when the Soviet Union imploded. The second is that the New Left of the Sixties collapsed and disappeared as well.

      Because the New Left lacked cohesion it fell apart as a political movement. However, its revolutionaries reorganized themselves into a multitude of single issue groups. Thus we now have for example, radical feminists, black extremists, anti-war ‘peace’ activists, animal rights groups, radical environmentalists, and ‘gay’ rights groups. All of these groups pursue their piece of the radical agenda through a complex network of organizations such as the Gay Straight Lesbian Educators Network (GSLEN), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), People for the American Way, United for Peace and Justice, Planned Parenthood, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), Code Pink for Peace, open border advocates and liberal ‘Christian’ groups. In back of these groups are deep-pocket funders: http://discoverthenetworks.org/

      Both communism and the New Left are alive and thriving here in America. They favor code words: tolerance, social justice, economic justice, peace, reproductive rights, sex education and safe sex, safe schools, inclusion, diversity, ‘gay’ rights, and sensitivity.

      Though America’s communist Left (Progressive liberals) publicly describe themselves as scientific, evolutionary, forward-thinking, and enlightened, in reality said ex-red diaper baby David Horowitz, they are,

      “…religious fanatics who regard their opponents as sinners and miscreants and agents of civil darkness…when they engage an opponent it is rarely to examine and refute his argument but rather to destroy the bearer of the argument and remove him from the plan of battle.” (The Surreal World of the Progressive Left, David Horowitz, FrontPageMagazine.com, 1/25/2008)

      As Fyodor Dostoevsky astutely observed, Communist, Socialist and/or Progressive religious fanaticism is at bottom a reprisal of Nimrod’s rebellion—the creature in rebellion against the Creator, His creation, Moral Law, immutable truths, and moral absolutes:

      Our war is against the Christian God and the world created by Him, declared Karl Marx, father of the Communist Manifesto. In his poem, “The Pale Maiden” he admits that he has willfully opted for Hell:

      “Thus heaven I’ve forfeited; I know it full well; My soul, once true to God; Is chosen for hell.” (Marx & Satan, Richard Wurmbrand, p. 22)

      “The Evil One is the satanic revolt against divine authority….Socialists recognize each other by the words, “In the name of the one to whom a great wrong has been done….Satan (is) the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds.” (Mikhail Bakunin, comrade of Marx, ibid, p. 27)

      “We do not fight against believers (or) even clergymen….We fight against God to snatch believers from Him.” (Vetchernaia Moskva, a Communist newspaper, ibid, p.77)

      You said: “I know, not as sexy as connecting it to undermining western civilization and biblical based western civ (whatever that may be), but a lot more likely”

      Friend, you do not know what Western Biblical-based civilization and history are. This has two causes: the deliberate and malicious “dumbing-down” of Americas’ education establishment by progressive ‘educators’ (conditioners) issuing in the sad, tragic capture of the American mind. The mind can be freed, but the work required is hard, lengthy, and challenging. The road to Truth and liberty begins with the Word of God, then tracks through the following books:

      1. The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression

      2. Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age, by Eugene (Fr. Seraphim) Rose

      3. Political Apocalypse: A Study of Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor, Ellis Sandoz

      4. Cry Havoc! The Great American Bring-down and how it happened, Ralph de Toledano

      5. The Ruling Class: How they Corrupted America and what we can do about it, Angelo M. Codevilla

      6. Marx & Satan, Richard Wurmbrand

      7. The Naked Communist, W. Cleon Skousen

      8. The Theme is Freedom: Religion, Politics and the American Tradition, M. Stanton Evans

      9. The Conservative Intellectual Movement, George H. Nash

    • Linda, I don’t remember Wurmbrand giving us the title of the poem in his book. Do you remember where you got the information that it’s called “The Pale Maiden”?
      One of the pieces of evidence Wurmbrand gives for Marx’s Satanism is questionable (It is probably the only one that is): Marx’s use of the name “Robin Goodfellow”. For that, all he would have needed is an acquaintance with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, one doesn’t need to bring Satanism into it. Not that the Shakespeare play isn’t more sinister than it is commonly understood to be!

      • @John Rokos: you remember where you got the information that it’s called “The Pale Maiden”?

        Yes, the top of page 22, “Marx & Satan.”

        John: one doesn’t need to bring Satanism into it.

        The idea of Satanism is an uncomfortable subject for many people today. It wasn’t always this way. Fyodor Dostoevsky for example, held that revolutionaries such as Marx were possessed but would only become aware of it until too late.

        While Satanism is the knowing worship of Satan and is historically rare there is also historically widespread unconscious Satanism. Modern examples of unconscious Satanism are Luciferian Theosophists, inner circle Mason initiates, and New Age insider David Spangler. According to Spangler, Lucifer is the angel of evolution.

        In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel, “The Brothers Karamazov,” (1879-1880) the Grand Inquisitor is an unconscious Satanist. He is an important part of the novel because the character represents Dostoevsky’s penetrating insight into the fallen human psyche and one of its’ most important endowments: moral freedom. In particular, the Grand Inquisitor is the accuser and murderer of God revealed through Jesus Christ and symbolizes the principle of nihilism (negation) and rebellion in mortal men such Hegel, Max Stirner, Karl Marx, and Nietzsche, who though not the actual devil, are of one mind with him, thus do his work. They are unconscious Satanists.

        The Grand Inquisitor is a conscious swindler, a Big Liar who knows that God revealed through Jesus Christ exists, yet perversely chooses to rebel against and conceptually murder Him despite that he knows his own life is by the grace of the personal God of life and revelation.

        In “Political Apocalypse: A Study of Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor,” Ellis Sandoz writes that when Marx found himself compelled to negate his own being (inner person, soul/spirit, self) because of his perverse desire to show that “man owes his existence (only) to man,” and to establish that the “entire so-called history of the world is nothing but the creation of man,” he virtually recapitulated Aquinas’ argument:

        “A being only considers himself independent when he stands on his own feet; and he only stands on his own feet when he owes his existence to himself. A man who lives by the grace of another regards himself as a dependent being (and) I live completely by the grace of another if I owe him not only the maintenance of my life, but if he has, moreover, created my life—if he is the source of my life. When it is not of my own creation, my life has necessarily a source of this kind outside of it. The creation is therefore an idea very difficult to dislodge from popular consciousness. The fact that nature and man exist in their own account is incomprehensible to it, because it contradicts everything tangible in practical life.”(pp. 113-114)

        Being of one mind with the devil, the Grand Inquisitor (Marx) suggests that in order to affirm that man is god, the denial of the existence of God has in the past been necessary (i.e., Nimrod), thus to further his swindle, he asserts antitheism rather than atheism, which is merely a negation of God that nevertheless postulates the existence of man through this negation. The complete negation of God requires that man and nature (matter, energy, time, space) be of the same substance. As nature is soulless, then so is man.

        For the conscious swindler, the prudent course is to flatly deny the existence of God and enforce this dictate by way of psychological manipulation and if need be, by murder. Psychologically manipulate and terrorize believers into confusion, apathy and groveling submission, and even better, accommodation of the Christian Church to the world system by way of harsh scorn, cruel ridicule, scoffing, slander and charges of insanity.

        The Inquisitor also knows that if men are deprived of the living God they will worship something else. Thus as Marx, the Inquisitor proffers the natural (pagan) religion of scientific socialism and dialectical materialism (evolutionary theory). But when Darwin published his own theory, the Inquisitor immediately perceived its’ philosophical materialist implications. The idea that humans evolved by chance and natural selection from a process of evolutionary dynamics working on primordial water or lifeless chemicals lay the axe at the very foundation of the Genesis account of creation ex nihilo and provided the scientific framework to support the economic infrastructure on which Marx could build his godless communist utopia:

        “…the biggest thing going for Darwinism was that it finally broke the tyranny in which Christianity had held the minds of men for so many centuries.” (F. Hoyle and C. Wickramasinghe, “Evolution From Space,” 1983, pp. xiii-xxii, 81 and 145)

        Communism and its’ occult twin, National Socialism, are types of Nimrod’s Tower (the perennial utopian heresy).

        In his book “Utopia: The Perennial Heresy,” Catholic philosopher and historian Thomas Molnar (1910-2010) notes that the two recurring themes of modern ideologies are monism (all that exists is the substance of nature) and evolutionary conceptions. At the root of these two themes there is:

        ” defiance of God, pride unlimited, a yearning for enormous power and the assumption of divine attributes with a view to manipulating and shaping mankind’s fate.” (p. 227)

        In order for god-men to create a new world and a new man:

        “the order of being must be obliterated (and reinterpreted) as essentially under man’s control.” Taking control “requires the decapitation of being — the murder of God.” (Eric Voegelin, “Science, Politics and Gnosticism,” p. xv)

        In other words, the Grand Inquisitor is the Master of the Universe, who being of one mind with Satan, has conceptually murdered God as revealed through Jesus Christ in order to take control of and reinterpret being, matter, time (he is the time/history-changer), energy, space and law.

    • If you’re discussing the term “iron curtain” in connection with the Soviet Union, surely you need to go back to Churchill’s original quotation?

  9. I don’t think you have much comfortability with intensifiers. I like the intensifisity of your article.

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