Discuss word origins and meanings.
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Post by trolley » Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:34 am

I saw this on a wall in a local restaurant. It was part of their mission statement.
“…to be a comfort in times of hunger and thirstiness.” My first thought was “why not hunger and thirst?” At least be consistent. If you’re going to go with “thirstiness” you may as well pair it with “hungriness”, except that hungriness isn’t really a word. Wrong again! It is. I’m not sure why I find some words “ugly”, but these two just seem wrong. Following that same line of reasoning, I found “angriness”. Seriously though, who needs angriness? Is there some subtle difference between anger and angriness or hunger and hungriness that I’m missing?
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Re: Thirstiness

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:34 am

Hunger, thirst and anger are, as you imply, the usual designations for the states they describe.

My take on the variants with the -iness suffix is that they suggest a state of constant or habitual hunger, thirst or anger. (For instance, it sounds more natural to me to speak of the hungriness of a famine-afflicted population than of their hunger). In that sense, these variants are (in my opinion) a subset of the usual nouns, which likewise can denote constant or habitual conditions.

That said, I haven't been able to find support for my perception in any dictionary.

As far as that restaurant mission statement is concerned, I have to agree with you that (for stylistic reasons, if for no other) it should have been worded consistently.

In addition, the reference to 'in times of...' strongly suggests lengthy periods during which food and drink are in short supply, rather than a temporary rumbling in the stomach or the sudden desire for a little glass of something.

However, it is not clear whether the coiner of the statement was thinking of a physical shortage of food or drink (such as might result from widespread crop failures), or economic deprivation (such as occurs during times of high unemployment and/or gross disparities in wealth in a society). If the former, the restaurant would presumably be no better positioned than anyone else to obtain its raw materials; if the latter, the implication is that the intention of the restaurant management is to run a sort of soup kitchen for the indigent during such times, or at a minimum, to provide meals that cost significantly less than their equivalents elsewhere. At least, that is what I would infer from the term 'comfort', as low prices would probably be the most meaningful way the restaurant operators could comfort customers who were short of money.

As we are not living in a period of widespread crop failures, but are experiencing a period of high unemployment and wealth inequality, if your meal cost no less than it would have in any other restaurant, my conclusion would be that the restaurant is not living up to its mission statement and should be lobbied to either reduce its prices or remove its mendacious slogan from display.
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