When someone says "I'm sorry you should feel that way", they're using should in a different way than someone who says "you should ditch that no-good, lazy boyfriend of yours". The latter use is called the mandative should, expressing as it does a command or recommendation. The first also has a name; it's called the putative should.
Putative means supposed or presumed, and the putative mood, used when the speaker doesn't have direct evidence of something but is inferring it, is common to a number of languages.
The putative mood is, relatively speaking, a bit player in the English language. The two heavy hitters are the indicative mood, used to make factual statements or pose questions ("You are upset", "Are you upset?"); and the imperative mood, which expresses a request or command ("Get your butt over here.")
A little further back comes the subjunctive mood, which shows a wish, or doubt, or something that is not established fact ("If I were you, I'd be upset too"). The subjunctive may be disappearing from English, and many writers - and even more speakers - no longer feel bound by it. "If I was you" is perfectly acceptable in many quarters these days.
By comparison with all these moods, the putative feels quaint and antiquated - like something you might hear in Downton Abbey. It's disappearing by, literally, disappearing. Whereas "if I were you" is being replaced by "if I was you", "I'm sorry you should feel that way" is being replaced by "I'm sorry you [no word here] feel that way". One reason, perhaps, why grammar pedants often rail against failure to observe the subjunctive, but rarely against failure to observe the putative. It's harder to notice something that's no longer there than it is to notice something that's been replaced by an alternative.
Don't ever argue with anyone in possession of a trenchant wit. You'll come away bloodied and bruised every time.
Especially bloodied. Trenchant is a synonym for cutting or sharp, and readers with a sense for these things will have already guessed at its French origins. It's directly related to trench, as in the terrible things that soldiers in WWI suffered and died in. In fact, WWI is when the term trench warfare arose, though oddly enough not until 1918, the last year of the war. Trench coat, also from that war, is named after apparel worn by British officers in the trenches.
The Australian term digger also has a place in this story, even though it originated during the 1800s. At that time, it was a popular word on both sides of the Tasman, and referred to someone who worked in a mine or spent their time digging for Kauri gum. It gained an especially strong foothold in Australia thanks to the Victoria Eureka Rebellion of 1854, in which 27 people died during an uprising against gold mining bosses.
During WWI, digger earned even greater currency thanks to the fact that Australian soldiers (along with British, New Zealand, etc) did, literally, spend a good part of the war digging.
If you ever find yourself wondering what war is good for, one answer is that it seems to throw up new words and phrases, or expand existing ones, thereby enriching the language. WWII gave us blitzkrieg, Vietnam gave us grunt (for soldier), and the second US-Iraq war gave us axis of evil. Some benefit.
Other variants of trench are trencher, a board for cutting food, and the little known trencherman, someone with a hearty appetite.
Trench is also thought to be related to truncate, or cut short. Those who work in finance may also be familiar with tranche, which literally means portion (usually of money) and is simply a variant of trench. Funny how French sounding words somehow seem more important than the English. I mean, which would you rather be handed: a portion of money or a tranche of funds?
Last issue's Word of the Week, feculent, put me in mind of a similar word that a girlfriend's mother once archly used to describe me - feckless.
Despite their obvious similarities, however, feculent and feckless have entirely different roots. Scottish in origin, feckless is a variant of feck, from effeck or effect. A feckless person is one so spineless and jelly-like as to be incapable of causing anything. How rude!
Does feck in the Scottish sense have any connection with feck, the expletive so popular among the Irish? Indeed it does. While you may be excused for thinking that feck the swear word is simply a more palatable version of you-know-what, it also conveys a sense of uselessness (as in feckless).
Two other meanings of feck are steal and throw contemptuously, as in "he fecked $10 from his mum's purse" and "he fecked me the remote, the pig". That makes it a hard working word indeed, unlike those feckless layabouts it is sometimes used to describe.
As for my girlfriend's mother, I hope for her sake that she eventually changed her opinion of me. Today, that girlfriend is my wife.
When my wife recently asked me if I knew what this word meant, all I could think of was the foul-mouthed Father Jack from the late, lamented comedy series Father Ted. His favourite word, which he voiced loudly, drunkenly and at any opportunity, was "feck". But while that may have made him a feckulent character, whether he was feculent is another matter entirely.
Feculent entered the English language in the mid 1400s, and must have been a useful word indeed at that time. It means turbid, filthy, fetid, abounding in dregs - the last of which is likely a euphemism for covered in s*** (and when you think about it, s*** is also a euphemism for the word which no spam filter will allow us to spell out in full).
As you might have gathered by now, feculent comes from the same word - faex - that gives us faeces. One notable characteristic of this word is that it only exists in the plural.
Another characteristic is the number of colloquial terms it's engendered, some of them taboo or at least considered offensive, and some so nauseatingly cute (poo poo anyone?) as to deserve way more opprobrium than their blunter cousins.
Then there is the weird term stool, used exclusively by the medical profession. It owes its existence to an obsolete piece of furniture called a stool of ease, which held a chamber pot and was kept in bedrooms for nighttime use. Yek!
One last story before we end this somewhat distasteful discourse. When I was about seven I developed an allergic rash to something on our farm which led to an outbreak of hives, a day of diarrhoea and, a couple of days in, sudden difficulty in breathing. The doctor was immediately summoned (this was a long time ago, remember) and on his arrival he asked me a number of questions, including "have you done any big jobs today?" In my innocence, I replied, "I helped my Mum put the groceries away." That was the day I learned yet another stupid colloquial term for - well, let's not say it again.