SIR: I hear many people use "littler" and "littlest." Even a television commercial uses "littlest." I think they are wrong. When I went to school more than 40 years ago, these were not correct. I have checked a few dictionaries and have not found them listed. - Jane J.
ANSWER: Which dictionaries? I've checked five and found "littler" and "littlest" listed in all of them - not under separate headings, you understand, but as comparative and superlative forms of "little." It's true that some people don't like the words, though I'm not sure why. But they're well established. Thackeray wrote of a maid who was called tall and gawky by some of her own sex "who prefer littler women," and Dickens spoke of "Constant attention in the littlest things." How many controversial words can boast of being used by Thackeray and Dickens?QUESTION: Should "myriad" be used as a myriad of things or myriad things? I've seen it both ways by people who should know proper usage. - Dorothy A.
ANSWER: People who know its proper usage may well use it either way: The myriad mind of Shakespeare, a myriad stars, a myriad of coins, myriads of people, the voice of myriads, and so on. Incidentally, it sometimes comes in handy to remember that "myriad" may mean either a great indefinite number or 10,000.
WRY COMMENT of the week, by Janis P.:
"During the closing days of the Persian Gulf war, my newspaper quoted President Bush as saying of Saddam Hussein: `He is trying to claim victory in the midst of a route.' Which route would that be? I assume this means he was standing in the middle of a highway when he made the pronouncement."