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Words; assistive, adj.

AMERICAN CINEMAS are so loudly amplified that nobody except the stone-deaf could possibly hope for the "assistive hearing device" whose availability is announced - in writing - on the screen before every showing. Until now, the word had been so rare that the OED can mention only the medieval Latin assistiva mulier, a kind of nun. One can only hope that this cumbersome coining does not cross the Atlantic and oust the concise, honest issuing of a hearing-aid.

Such shirking of physical fact recalls the unfortunate incident when an Englishman was told by a client that she had an "exceptional" child, upon which he congratulated her. But she looked askance. She had meant that her offspring had a mental affliction.