Attender vs. Attendee: a rebuttal

My grammatical faith in Americans in restored! This just in from Jeff Rakes, Pastor of Worship and Administration of Grace Church in Dover, DE:

we did research this at one time – here are a couple of things I’ve run across. you may have seen the same ones

the best distinction I found was

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary:
(especially BrE) (AmE usually attendee) noun a person who goes to a place or an event, often on a regular basis: She’s a regular attender at evening classes. PowerExif – the best choice to edit EXIF data in imagesLongman Dictionary of Contemporary English

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English:
at·tend·er /əˈtendə US -ər/ n [C]
someone who regularly goes to an event such as a meeting or a class
 Daniel was a regular attender at the Baptist Church.

(only found in Longman, no result in OALD)
at·ten·dee /əˌtenˈdiː, ˌæten-/ n [C]
someone who is at an event such as a meeting or a course

See also an interesting tidbit on English vs. British usage

We chose attendee because it can include people who attend occasionally and not necessarily regularly
Not that most people have thought about whether there’s a difference, but we were trying to be consistent, at least when we can remember 🙂

Blimey! I guess Briticisms don’t rule after all. That’ll show me for being so cheeky about the church website. Thanks, Jeff, for the well-reasoned and spot on response. If my rants weren’t permanently singed on the landscape of the Internet, you bet they’d be in the dustbin right now.


Last week’s rant, continued (Unrighteous avoidance, Part 2)

What gives?

The new website for my church calls me and all my fellow congregants “attendees.” Not “attenders.”


It may sound like quibbling to you, but this one small element of an otherwise perfectly lovely website is making me writch around not unlike the unwitting princess who still felt that pea under her mattresses. (Perhaps despite appearances, I’m fragile.) Adding to my somewhat repentant 9/1 post describing my unwillingness to watch the church website tutorials, I find that I now have a grammatical obstacle in my way, the likes of which I have not had since I went an entire dictionary-less day wondering whether the name “Stealth Bomber” implies that ‘stealth’ is an adjective, despite its normal usage as a noun.

You’re on your own with that one.

Research on suggested that ‘attendee’ works like ‘retiree’ (one who retires), ‘escapee’ (one who escapes), and ‘abscondee’ (one who absconds), the last of which I used just the other day, when I said, “Fie!! Thou hast absconded with my tankard of gruel, thou heartless abscondee! Nay, I shall slay thee anon!” Thus, ‘attendee’ would mean one who attends, and in the case of the church website, someone who attends the church.

A bit of a controversy, though, comparing this to research on, which advised me to think about the relationship between ’employer’ and ’employee.’ The employer employs and the employee is employed by the employer. So the ‘attender’ attends and the ‘attendee’ is attended to. Got that?

Does this imply that my church attends to my needs? That is sweet, isn’t it? I could use a personal attendant sometimes, mainly to hold the hymnal at an appropriate reading distance when I forget my progressive lenses. Isn’t that nice of them?

The best word on ‘attendee’ that I found was in the British Medical Journal (Vol 323, published 8/18/2001) There, Andrew West, specialist registrar in child and adolescent psychiatry (whatever that is) at Oxford wrote a short, decidedly non-medical piece on how he doesn’t use the word ‘attendee.’ He reports the results of his own research in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, which revealed no meanings for the suffix ‘-ee’ that identify the person doing an action (such as one who attends a meeting). West describes himself as one who has taken refuge from a meeting, perhaps making him a refugee despite the fact that the meeting necessitated rather than provided the refuge.

Interestingly, West also refers to the meaning of ‘-ee’ as being a diminutive suffix, as in a ‘coatee’ being a small coat (does that make a ‘goatee’ a small goat?) This makes me wonder how in the world we came up with ‘Slurpee’ (by this definition, possibly a small slurp), a beverage that can be ordered as an oxymoronic ‘Big Gulp.”

Stupid Americans.

I think I’m with West. ‘Attender’ is A-OK. Anything else makes my head hurt.

Remind me–what did I read this summer?

OK, my book club meets next Friday at my place, and we’re supposed to report on what we read over the summer so that we can choose a book from that batch for our next selection. Trouble is, I can barely remember what I read over the summer. I read it, it’s done, I forget it. Worst of all, it was my bright idea that we report on what we read. Brilliant, right?

So I dug deep into the cobweb covered recesses of my so-called memory, and here’s what I came up with:

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
So tragic, but somehow I couldn’t put it down. This National Book Award Winner interweaves the stories (the sad, sad stories) of several fictional characters from 1970s New York City with the story of tightrope daredevil Philippe Petit, who actually walked a high wire between the Twin Towers in 1974. The fiction is gritty at times, but the backdrop of the high wire walk is astonishing, and the contrast is absolutely brilliant. Watch the documentary Man on Wire as dessert–not to give it all away, but it shows Petit alive and well after the walk. Just keep your finger on the button for a brief inappropriate scene. Darn that Petit–he documented everything.

Marley & Me by John Grogan
I know you’ve heard of it. I’ll bet you’ve already read it. But just humor me, here. I kind of avoid books that reek of sentimentality or that are featured on/endorsed by Oprah. But let me tell you, this book was wonderful. It documented all of the stages of a dog’s life, and reeked not of vain sentimentality but true love and commitment of a family to its dog. The cover says it’s the story of the World’s Worst Dog (the current title holder lives across the street from me, by the way), but the stories will be familiar to any pet owner. As my unkind, but wise cat-loving next door neighbor used to say, “Either you have pets, or you don’t.” If you do, read this book.

The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell
Not The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo nor The Man from Ipanema, The Man from Beijing is a bit of a generational epic/mystery/thriller/Swedish-Chinese tour book. The book features a Swedish judge called Birgitta Roslin (referred to at least 75% of the time by both names) who stumbles on a sensational crime and follows it as therapy for her extraodinarily high blood pressure problem. Not the solution I would have chosen, but a good read, nonetheless. Speaking of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I’m wondering how it is that such bloody stuff goes down in Sweden, and whether American movies/TV/novels make them think the same of us.

The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
I know I’m late to the game on this one, but my 11-year-old daughter and I are reading this series, and I love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love it. It’s been a great adventure to read alongside each other (though I am now 2 books behind her). The vocabulary is wonderful, the definitions are so clever, the jokes are funny, and the story keeps chugging along. Who would have thought orphans could be so much fun to follow.

In Spite of Everything by Susan Gregory Thomas
This is a memoir of how divorce and alcoholism may (or may not) have destroyed the author’s marriage–a marriage she thought would last forever. It’s a bit of a study on Generation X (people, like me, born between 1965 and 1980), whose parents are documented as being the “most divorcing” of all time (evidenced by the highest divorce rate in America occuring around 1979). The author’s childhood and marriage go through the meat grinder, maybe because of the destabilizing force of divorce, maybe because her dad was an alcoholic, and maybe because her mother was a clueless academic. It’s tragic but eye-opening, and, like some memoirs, it makes you wonder whether the author got her conclusions right. I’m hesitant to recommend it, but I want so much to know what other readers think about this one. A word of caution: parts of this book may lead to bad moods and temporary, unintended spousal conflict. Best when read alone.

Rejected 8th Grade Social Studies current events stories (No. 1)

Title: Another Human Foot Washes Up In British Columbia (source:

Priceless quote: “The discovery marks the eighth human foot to wash up in British Columbia since August 2007 and is the 12th to appear in the coastal region from British Columbia to northwestern Washington in that time….two [of the eight washed up feet] found in Richmond, British Columbia, have been confirmed as belonging to the same woman. Police said they do not suspect foul play and believe that the feet detached naturally in the water.” (emphases mine)

I don’t know how it works in Canada, but my feet have never naturally detached at the Jersey Shore. Not even in the ’80s when all that medical waste was floating around.


Unrighteous avoidance?

I am not a boy scout. And not just because I’m a girl.

I am not a boy scout because if you tell me to do something, I will most likely not do it, simply because you told me to. Seriously.

I know it’s backwards. It borders on disrespectful. But I just don’t like being obligated…to do anything.

And in case you’re worried, it’s not you. I am an equal opportunity ignorer.

My quandary of late: to educate myself on the mechanics of the new website for my church per the request of a church staff member. All he wants me to do is watch a couple of tutorial videos. And it’s a minister asking, for goodness sake. But I haven’t done it. And maybe I’m not gonna.

Here’s the background: I participate in and lead a couple of church ministries (6th grade Sunday School, mentoring for engaged couples, missions, and others). I’m sure the website can help me to connect to the church community in a variety of ways. I’m sure that it can take my ministries where they’ve never gone before. I’m sure that uploading my photo there will open doors of social mediation (mediation?) the likes of which Facebook only dreams about after a really big birthday dinner (OK, that last comment had a mocking tone, but this is my blog, and I have to be snarky, right?).

But I’m having a serious block for watching these videos. Believe me, it’s not procrastination. It’s not a protest. It’s…I don’t know. I guess it’s me. Me and my not wanting to get on the computer for one more moment than I need to. That’s really what it comes down to.

But if you’re reading this, though, you’re probably wondering, “If she’s blogging then why doesn’t she just watch the videos and quit whining? Same difference.” Well, you got me there. If I have time for this, I have time for that. But I’m still probably not going to watch the videos (I’m such an enigma, aren’t I?).

Maybe my unwillingness to watch the tutorials is the techno version of not reading the directions. I think, “I’ll just poke around, and I’ll figure out what I need to know. Besides, what’s it going to hurt? If the website asks me whether I want to play a game of global thermonuclear war, I’m going to say no. Feel better now?”

But even as I write this, I believe I’m waxing smug. And nobody likes a smug churchgoer, except perhaps the smug churchgoer herself. So fine, I’ll watch the tutorials. I will. I promise.

Drop me a comment about something you’ve been avoiding and why. And don’t worry—I don’t judge people.

Torn about Irene

Overflowed banks at the base of the waterfall at Silver Lake Park in Dover, Delaware

I know I’m crazy, but 36 hours post-hurricane Irene, I find myself wanting more.

I am such a sucker for a good storm. It’s exciting, suspenseful. It’s dark and a little dangerous—the ultimate change of scenery. It’s a spike on the chart of the everyday. It’s an adventure…without the hassle of leaving home.

As I look around, though, there’s a lot that I don’t want: day 2 of no electricity (like my parents and in-laws), my home under 4 feet of water (like the Trenton train station), and restrictions against going outside for fear of electrocution caused by downed live electric wires (like in Hoboken). And how would you like the possibility of the state giving the order to release the water from behind an overly taxed dam such that it submerges your town (as had been considered for one flood-related engineering emergency in Vermont)? If that’s not the ultimate in your tax dollars at work, I don’t know what is.

As I reflect on the fact that I am unscathed and wishing that the weekend’s events had been a bit more dramatic, I have to say, I’m curious. I wonder whether I should have revised the prayers I said early Friday afternoon to be more inclusive. Before the storm came, I rode my bicycle through my neighborhood and prayed for preservation of the homes. I rode past the middle school and prayed for safety of the students and their families. I rode through the park and prayed specifically for the trees to stay standing. I prayed for my family’s bungalow in Seaside Park, NJ that it wouldn’t end up free-floating in the Atlantic, a lifetime of summer memories and our vintage Archie comics floating out along with it.

Ultimately, I got everything I asked for (and for that, I am thankful, of course). Should I have prayed for more areas, I wonder, with more specificity? Should I have made a virtual circle of the whole east coast as I circled the neighborhoods on my bike? Should I have put my hand on the electric meter and prayed for the integrity of the middle states grid? Should I have prayed that the trees of Silver Lake Park be standing, but not in 6 feet of water, as they were on Sunday morning?

I don’t know. What I do know is that the sun is shining now, and the aftermath of the storm is not something that is affecting me directly. It’s a good thing. I wonder if the post-Irene feeling that I have is like the one athletes get when they make it to the semis but get knocked out on the eve of the finals. Not having to fight the big guys is disappointing, but I’ll tell you what—it’s also a relief.

Rock on, Momma

Just drove home from school at 8 am on the return trip from an emergency flute drop off. Tears—none. Band director blow-up the day before the concert—narrowly averted. Points scored with my fifth grader—infinite.

And, as I ease back into the self-satisfied comfort of my minivan, what should come on my Time Life collection of the ’70s CD? My new parenting anthem, that’s what:

“…it’s been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise—I consider it a challenge before the whole human race, and I ain’t gonna lose!”

Thank you, Queen. Most triumphant…even for a 42-year-old mother of two who hasn’t quite taken a shower yet.

We (parents, that is) truly are the champions, aren’t we?

Sunshine Quotations

We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won’t do harm – yes, choose a place where you won’t do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.”
— E.M. Forster (A Room With a View)

You are the only shadow standing in your own sunshine.”
Fabio Viviani (Top Chef)

What I’ve Read and What I’m (possibly) Reading Next

I just put five books on hold with the Dover Public Library.

Am I nuts?

One minor lull in the work schedule and I think that it’s going to be read, read, read all the time. Like it’s my hobby. Like I do it for fun. Like I wouldn’t rather be lazy and watch TV. Like what I read last wasn’t Anthony Bourdain’s latest memoir, Medium Raw, in which I skipped over the section about his favorite international meals because I didn’t want to expand my brain in any way whatsoever.

Admittedly, I was coming off of a bit of a mental workout, with two brain books back to back. I’ve been thinking about the brain so much that my amygdala hurts.

Brain book number one was the memoir/self-help book My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, suggested by me for my book club. My take on it: the author’s account of her stroke was at the same time chilling and informative, but I think her takeaway that we can all cultivate peace by retraining our thought patterns is idealistic (and easy for her to say, considering that the stroke brought her back to un-embittered square one).

Brain book number two was the phobia memoir/scientific exploration I Wish I Could Be There, by composer Allen Shawn (brother of the lisping actor/playwright Wallace Shawn of such films as The Princess Bride and My Dinner with Andre–admittedly the sibling connection being the book’s main draw for shallow me). My take on it: while I have never had to turn my car around because of severe travel-related panic attack symptoms, I have experienced said symptoms in other situations, and I am glad to know that I am not (a) the only one, (b) crazy, and (c) curable by means of Jill Bolte Taylor’s “Whistle a happy tune” philosophy of life.

So, next on the hit parade (if whatever my new book club selection doesn’t take up all my time) are:

1. Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese
2. The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman
3. The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, by Wes Moore
4. True Grit, by Charles Portis
5. Twin, a Memoir, by Allen Shawn

Not a brain in sight. Nice.

Neglected Blog Guilt?

It’s a 21st century emotional plague. So common, it borders on cliché. One more disease of the informationally overpriveleged.

Forgive me, cyber-universe…I’ve neglected my blog.

Actually, nix that. I don’t feel guilty, and I’m not really sorry. To borrow my favorite phrase from Top Chef, Season whatever-it-was, the truth is that my blog “is what it is.” Whatever you may think about my level of dedication, there is no avoiding that my life does, should, must, has, and always will come first. If I find my back to the family for hours on end, my eyes twitching from overuse, my brain unable to remember the name of the drug that I was writing about five minutes ago, then I’m going to say that the blog can wait. End of story.

It was only ever a personal writing diary anyway, right? Musings. Thoughts. My substantive protest, however invisible, against the legion of “I NEED MORE COFFEE” post-ers on Facebook. (Please, people, get your coffee already—and for the love of your soon-to-be ex-Facebook friends, quit posting about it!). My blog was meant to be a low-impact mental exercise, a way of keeping the virtual pen in shape, a means to accumulating material that, while read by only a precious few, could someday be compiled into a longer form medium with little to no additional effort.

But then, like Mom’s homemade pies on a 1980’s sit-com, things caught on. I had followers. People reading me who didn’t know me. People lurking and not telling me so, until they expressed an opinion and I realized I wasn’t so invisible after all. And I started to produce, for the group, to meet the expectations, to keep it all going. And like Lucy on the candy production line, there was bound to come a time when I couldn’t keep up.

That time came around a year ago when two things happened. The first was an uptick in my professional writing. Let me tell you, much as I love musing, it doesn’t do much to bolster the college fund. Sorry, blog fans, but you lose to a paying job any day. The second was that, in step with my professional expansion, I had new business cards made, and they had my blog address printed on them loud and clear.

Kiss. Of. Death.

With all that said, I’m bucking the trend. I neglected my blog, and NO REGRETS, MAN! It’s still here, and I’m still here, and both of us are what we are and, like Popeye said it, that’s all that we are. Stay tuned readers, but don’t feel like you can’t touch that dial.

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