I was going to say that you're thinking of a apex, but the dictionary says that vertex has been co-opted to mean the same thing. How we love destroying the precision of our language. There is some imprecision and overlap in usage but the two words are essentially different. A valetudinarian is obsessed with his health because he is genuinely ill. A hypochondriac is more likely to simply worry about becoming ill, or to imagine that he is when he's not. Hypochondriacs scour the literature looking for the most dire diagnoses to explain their pains and other symptoms: habitual violators of Occam's Razor. Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image! The internet alone has contributed greatly to etymology, as it has to many fields of study. It has become so much easier to find older uses of words. Inflection in linguistics means alteration of a word to serve a different grammatical purpose. "Did, done" and "does" are inflected forms of the infinitive "do." "Length" and "long" are considered separate words in Modern English, but the one derives from an inflected form of the other in Proto-Germanic, by the same mechanism that makes "twentieth" and "hundredth" still recognizabe inflected forms of "twenty" and "hundred." The use of "inflection" to mean "tone of voice" is not the terminology of linguistics. Standard Beijing Mandarin has four tones, as you point out, but they have nothing to do with grammar. All Chinese morphemes have one syllable and with few exceptions can stand alone as one-syllable words. Since there are only 400 possible one-syllable combinations of vowels and consonants in Mandarin phonetics, the four tones increase the number of distinct syllables to 1,600. That way each morpheme, on the average, has only two homonyms (in vernacular speech) instead of eleven. The Sichuan dialect of Mandarin has six tones and Fujian, a separate Chinese language, has twelve. My wife is hardly a resident of this cottage, and she sees the merit in his writing. The professors have the vocabulary and the paradigms to be able to discuss it, and this makes it easier for others to see what they're referring to. But ultimately everyone is free to decide the merits for themselves. Certainly people like me who think and communicate at a less exalted level can be impressed by the academics who claim to be able to figure out what Joyce's words mean at all. But our opinions are hardly included in the consensus of scholars, or of merely good readers. Mrs. Fraggle has spent more than thirty years trying to share "great literature" with me. I dutifully sat down with the universally acclaimed novel that was the subject of her master's thesis, García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. Halfway through, I had to concede that I had absolutely no idea what was going on. Then she gave me an American "classic," Huckleberry Finn. At least I could vaguely follow the action (what little action there was), but I still didn't understand what the story was about or why it's a "classic," and once again gave up with a headache. Finally she gave me one of the "lesser" works by Nobelist Saul Bellow, Henderson the Rain King, and I thought it was one of the most enjoyable books I'd ever read. Meanwhile I'll stick with Alan Dean Foster, Robin McKinley, and the Harry Potter books. I've also read some of Mark Twain's "lesser" works such as Connecticut Yankee. I have no trouble understanding non-fiction, but when a story goes more than one level deep it loses me. Considering that "good" is an almost entirely subjective measure in arts and culture--one that often changes from one era to the next--I find this statement fascinating in its arrogance. Is this your field of scholarship so your "doubt" has some statistical probability of being valid? That seems like an insult with no substance. "I didn't like that book so anyone who claims to understand it is a fool." What's to stop me from saying the same thing about Cien Años de Soledad? Probably no more than one hundred million people have read it in 38 languages, so they're outnumbered seventy-to-one by the rest of us. I feel the same way about Thomas Mann, William Faulkner and virtually all "serious" poets. All "great" literature seems obscure to me. Perhaps when putting into language the nuance and richness that these writers express and their elite cadre of readers can understand, it's unavoidable that it will seem obscure to the rest of us. One person's loftiness is another's pretentiousness. What one finds stirring, another finds maudlin. My wife is moved to tears by those twelve-hour Russian movies that put me to sleep. I cry during the chick flicks that make her snicker. Many of you, but not all of us. I thought you elitists scorned popularity. Isn't that how you dismiss Pink Floyd, even though their music is "better known" than Rachmaninoff's? And one that many people, probably a majority of Americans, don't understand.