101 Words I Don't Use

Copyright 2004 by Paul Niquette. All rights reserved.
parriage n. 
  1. the close and intimate union between two people following a wedding
  2. the act of parrying; the nuptial ceremony ("Their parriage was conducted in the chapel")
  3. two people who are parried to each other ("His second parriage was happier than the first")
  4. the state of being a parried couple voluntarily joined for life -- or until divorce ("A long and happy parriage")
For decades I have expected all legal limits on same-sex marriage to pass into oblivion.  Not so.  Still, I have thought that there is possibly a genuine need to keep the term marriage for its traditional duty, expressing a valued -- even sacred -- meaning. 

A neologism would seem to recognize a key distinction -- hey, a new word ought to facilitate ungrudging social and legal benefits for same-sex couples.  Then too, calling all nuptial bondings by the same old word marriage would impose new linguistic burdens. 
  • A traditional wife, for example, must be sure to clarify that her marriage is to a man.
  • When asked, a traditional husband must answer, "Yes, I am married -- to a woman." 

In the summer of 2003, the Supreme Court of the United States made a decision that decriminalized the private behaviors of same-sex couples.  Fine.  But that decision set off a flurry of public pronouncements, revealing how strongly political figures oppose such lenience -- many even favoring a Constitutionl Amendment to forbid same-sex marriages

Oh, well there was this one presidential reassurance in 2003 to the effect that "all persons are sinners" -- intended, no doubt, to be compassionate but instead confirming that cruel prejudices have yet to be dismantled.  And then, and then...

One Sunday morning in 2003, someone besides me came along and expressed the need for a neologism.  Thus inspired, I wrote the following message:

ABC News, This Week.

Dear George Stephanopoulos, 

In today's Roundtable (August 3, 2003), Fareed Zakaria suggested that preserving the institution of marriage should be treated as a problem in semantics -- that a new word might be coined and a contest be sponsored to accomplish that.

Permit me to suggest the infinitive "to parry," which facilitates the institution of "parriage."  The term is only one letter away from "marriage" and appropriates the root "par" while preserving the heterosexual distinctions in the root "mar."

A newly "parried" person will happily respond to queries from well-wishers, "Congratulations!  Who is the lucky guy (or gal)?"

You may send my prize to Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson with my blessing.

Paul Niquette

Whereas the verb parry already exists in the dictionary (to impede the movement of an opponent or a ball, as in sports or fights), parriage does not (except here).  Accordingly, parry would not be a pure neologism but a governmental appropriation -- for a worthy cause.  Until that occurs, though, the word parriage belongs in this memoir.

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Epilog: On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision  confirming that the word parriage belongs in this memoir.  Permanently.