WOW #22

Dictionary

This week’s Word Of the Week is….

CERVINE

As with so many other things, I found it when I was looking for something else. I have no smart comments to make about it.  I can’t even think of a way to relate it to my life, to give you some kind of cute little story about it.

The English adjective cervine comes directly from Latin cervτnus “pertaining to a deer” ( cervus). Latin cervus means “stag, deer” and derives from a complicated Proto-Indo-European root ker- (with many variants) “uppermost part (of the body), head, horn.” The same root yields Latin cornū “horn” (as in unicorn and in corn in the sense “thickening and hardening of the skin on a toe”), cervτx “neck,” and cornea (horny coating or tissue). In Germanic the root appears as her-, source of English horn, hart (the animal), and hornet. Cervine entered English in the 19th century.

Just about every animal has a similar word to describe it. Most are easy to identify if you know the Latin base.  Bovine = cow-like, ovine is sheep-like, equine is horses, canine and feline are cats and dogs, aquiline soars like an eagle, ursine refers to bears, lupine is wolves, leonine is lions, although saturnine means gloomy or taciturn, and refers to the dour astrological influence of the planet Saturn.  The dictionary does not mention Grumpy Old Dude – Archon.  Vulpine refers to foxes,  and is the basis for the European surname ‘Volpe’.  We have a “Don Volpe Interiors”, locally.

Porcine refers to pigs. I once watched a C-grade movie.  Essentially it was The A-Team Invades Cuba.  Soon after our heroic lads came ashore, they required local assistance.  It quickly came in the form of a Rubenesque young female with a low neckline, short skirt, and high heels in a dirt-road village.

The squad leader thanked her, and asked her name. When she said that it was ‘Porcina Perez,’ I fell off the couch.

I don’t imagine that I’ll use this word much. I have very little need to describe things (animals) which are deer-like.  The reason that I included it is because of all the English-language words and concepts that it engenders.  Heads and horns and hornets and corns and cornets and cervix and hart and cornea and unicorns, oh my.  It’s like this one word supports half the dictionary.

Please join me again, later this week, when I rant off at a completely different vector.  😀

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It’s Just A Made-Up Word

Dictionary

(Some) people ask, “How can I get a word into the dictionary?”

A six-year-old Canadian boy from British Columbia is being credited with creating one. He was out with his mother in the car, when she stopped at a STOP sign. Not only did he read the word, but he did what I often do.  He read it backwards, and got the word ‘pots.’  Precocious little prick – reminds me very much of a young Archon.

He asked his mother what the word was for a word that formed another word when read backwards. She didn’t know, so she said they’d ask his Dad when he got home.  He didn’t know, so he asked a friend of his who was a teacher.  He didn’t know, so he asked the school’s English teacher. She didn’t know, so she contacted a friend who worked for an on-line dictionary.

At each level, the interest became more intense. After some research, it was realized that there wasn’t such a word.  It couldn’t be ‘anagram’, which describes words formed by scrambling the letters – getting ‘tars’, or ‘tsar’ from ‘star,’ instead of ‘rats.’  I can get six words from his four-letter sign – stop, spot, pots, post, tops, and opts.

It couldn’t be ‘palindrome’ which describes a word, phrase, or entire sentence which reads the same way, backwards or forwards, like – Able was I ere I saw Elba, or A man, a plan, a canal, Panama.

During the golden days of radio, I listened to a station which ran a contest. They wanted a word, and gave out audio clues.  The first was the gentle sound of a babbling brook, and a man’s voice saying, “I’m going to paddle down this.” After a couple of days, they added the sound of a tolling bell, and the man exclaiming, “Time for lunch!” A couple of days later with no winners, they added a male voice saying, “That’s your plane coming in, right there on the screen.”

Finally, someone guessed ‘palindrome’, the first time I’d heard it. The voice was going to paddle a ‘kayak’, have lunch at ‘noon’, and watch his plane on ‘radar.’

This little boy is credited with creating the word ‘levidrome.’ I don’t know how precocious he is, but even Young Sheldon, spun off from Big Bang Theory, would have trouble building a compound word from pieces of Latin, a foreign, and dead, language.  I suspect that he had a little bit of help.

‘Levi’ in Latin means left, and ‘drome’ is a course or path, so it indicates a word which is read towards the left. It doesn’t hurt that Levi is also the boy’s Jewish first name.

Canadian actor, William Shatner, (whose German surname means, “chewer of scenery,” in English) contacted Oxford Dictionary after the family had been in touch with Merriam Webster, which told them that a word has to be commonly used before it can be added to its dictionary.

Now, an editor at Oxford has responded with a video, saying many clever and useful words are created every year, but a word can only make it into its dictionary if lots of people use it over a long time. The editor says that plenty of people are uttering ‘levidrome’ early into Levi’s campaign, which is impressive, and staff will decide in about a year whether its use is widespread enough to get the word into the dictionary.  Their search engine might even sieve this post.  C’mon people, let’s all use it.

I’ve got a word for the precious little pr…ecocious, and it ain’t ‘Triviana!’ Stop by again soon, when I’ll have a bunch more words that are already in the dictionary.  😉

WOW #20

Stunned*

I just knew that, sooner or later, my love of language and my general disdain for organized religion would crash into each other, and cause me grief. In scanning some Atheist/anti-Atheist blog-posts recently, I came upon the Word Of the Week, which is

CATHOLIC

adjective

broad or wide-ranging in tastes, interests, or the like; having sympathies with all;
broad-minded; liberal.
universal in extent; involving all; of interest to all.
pertaining to the whole Christian body or church.

Origin of catholic

1300-1350; Middle English < Latin catholicus < Greek katholikós general, equivalent to kathól(ou) universally (contraction of phrase katà hólou according to the whole; see cata-, holo- ) + -ikos -ic

The word ‘catholic’ is a Janus-word, one of a few in English which have 2 different, contradictory meanings, like ‘cleave’, which can mean to split into pieces – or to make pieces into one solid whole, or the verb ‘table’, which can mean to set aside and not deal with – or to deal with immediately.

Even when the word catholic was first used to describe the Christian church/religion, the existence of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., clearly show that it violated definition #2. It was not universal!  It did not involve or was of interest to all!

The longer it has existed, the more it has diverged from definition #1. Instead of being broad-minded, liberal, and sympathetic to all, it has become increasingly more hidebound, narrow-minded and dogmatic.

The Roman Catholic Church even violates the third definition. It does not represent the entire body of the Christian faith, as proved by the existence of 33,000 Protestant denominations.  It split, or was split from, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Russian Orthodox Church.  Even just linguistically, it cannot claim to be an only child, when it obviously has two brothers.

I hear/read Christian Apologetics try to deny evolution by asking questions like, “If we came from monkeys/apes, why are there still monkeys/apes?” I just want to scream, “Are you really as stupid and narrow-minded as that question makes you appear? Read a book – not just The Good Book.”  If all dogs came from wolves, why are there still wolves?  Or better, if all Christian denominations came from Catholic, why are there still Catholics?  We didn’t ‘come from apes/monkeys.’  Apes, monkeys and humans all came from a common ancestor.  It’s just that some of us are a little more evolved than others.

In arguments/discussions about Christianity/Faith/Bible, Christian Apologetics have answers to explain away every single thing, but not for everything.  If doubt were a building, they have individual arguments to refute bricks, doors, windows, floors and roofs – but not the entire house.  Their arguments against bricks contradict their claims denying the existence of windows, etc., etc., etc.!   😦  😯

WOW #17

Dictionary

My son just handed me a great little word. I’ve been doing it for years without getting caught at it.  The word is;

Bricolage

a construction made of whatever materials are at hand; something created from a variety of available things.

(in literature) a piece created from diverse resources.

(in art) a piece of makeshift handiwork.

the use of multiple, diverse research methods.

Origin of bricolage: Middle French/Old French

1960-65; < French, literally “do-it-yourself,” from bricoler “to do odd jobs, small chores” from Middle French bricoler “to zigzag, bounce off,” from Old French bricole “a trifle, bricole ” + -age -age

So, this explains all those ‘Seinfelds, and Shotguns, and Trivianas, and now, Smitty’s Loose Change.’ I thought that I was gathering wide-spread, interesting trivia for my readers.  It turns out that I was just doing unfocused, French odd-jobs.  I am underwhelmed and disappointed.

I was going to make myself a Dagwood sandwich, as a snack.  It seemed to fit definition number one.  Now that I know that I’ve been infected with Froggy Lazy Fair, I’ll probably hop out to the kitchen, and feel compelled to prepare myself some snails, with mouldy cheese.

I’ll be zigzagging and bouncing off the walls for a couple of days, probably fighting the impulse to smoke Galois cigarettes like it’s mandatory. I’ll put on my dress kilt and eat some haggis to get back in grumpy character, and present you soon with something a little grittier. Vous revenez ensuite, n’est-ce pas? Y’all will come back then, won’tcha??   😕

2017 A To Z Challenge – L

Challenge2017

Look out!  This is going to be one

letter-l

of a post.

Now listen, you lot.  Don’t start ladling out blame, and labeling me a lax lout, or a lazy lump, who should have got the lead out, and composed a better post for the letter L.

I have my linguistic limits.  I’ve been lying around on the porch lanai of a little cabin by the lake, and it got too late.  I’ll tell you no lies; I bet you hoped there’d be none of these loopy posts this year.

Well, you’re lucky.  This should be the last.  I wish to leave you laughing, and look forward to seeing you here again, later.   LOL   😆

WOW #15

Leftovers

MMM, leftovers

I recently encountered a very strange word (don’t ask how) that had me scratching my head. It is as awesome as it is mystifying. The word I’m talking about is, wait for it…

Tittynope.

Yes, you read that correctly. Tittynope. It is defined on the Merriam-Webster website as: a small amount of anything that is left over. From what I’ve gathered, it’s mostly just applicable to food, similar to the word ‘Ort’. So that leftover chicken from last night, that’s sitting in your refrigerator? That’s tittynope. You have tittynope in your fridge. Don’t you just hate when your mom serves tittynope for dinner? As you can tell, it’s really fun to use in context, especially when your 11-year-old male mind runs free.

“Excuse me, waiter, may I have a box for my tittynope?” Next time you’re at a restaurant, try that and watch your waiter or waitress’s facial expression. If they are dedicated enough to their job and too polite to ask what that is, they may just go looking around the restaurant for some kind of nipple container, probably not though. They will likely just call you a pig, but still, it’s worth a try.

My biggest question about this word is, where the Hell did it originate from? M-W doesn’t give word history, and Dictionary.com hasn’t heard of it. What was the situation that created this word?

I can just imagine some guy eating a pizza, and after he finishes, there is a little piece of leftover pepperoni on his plate.
His friend then walks up, out of the blue, and asks:  “Hey, is that a titty?”
And then the guy who ate the pizza goes:  “Nope.”
Then the other friend thinks to himself:  Hmm, Tittynope.

Then, boom, leftover food regularly starts getting called tittynope, and somehow this word makes it all the way into the dictionary. Although, I’ve never met anyone who actually knew the meaning of it, or has even heard of it for that matter. So, I am going to try to change that, one use of the word at a time.

All this writing has made me hungry for a little snack, and I can see that my friend has some tittynope on his plate. Anyway, you should be ashamed of what you’ve been thinking.   😉

 

The Queen’s English

Queen

The Queen’s English.
Yes, I’ve heard that about her!  😆

If only more of the English people would speak the English language. Some of them think that, if a word is good enough to be said once, it should be slightly changed and said twice.  Sometimes this doubling-up is done to emphasize the meaning, but I am sure that sometimes it is done just to confuse those who don’t speak the local dialect.

It has brought us a bunch of word-pairs like; holus-bolus, okie-dokie, hurdy-gurdy, hunky-dory, hurly-burly, lovey-dovey, argy-bargy, hinky-dinky, rinky-dinky, hanky-panky, razzle-dazzle, willy-nilly, fuzzy-wuzzy, namby-pamby, itsy-bitsy, (t)eensy-weensy, (t)eeny-weeny, higgledy-piggledy, mumbo-jumbo, roly-poly, and tittle-tattle.

Cuckoo Clock

Why ‘Tock-Tick’ does not sound right, to your ear

Have you ever wondered why we say tick-tock, not tock-tick, or ding-dong, not dong-ding; King Kong, not Kong King?  It turns out that it is one of the unwritten rules of English that native speakers know, without even knowing.

The rule, explains a BBC article, is; “If there are three words, then the order has to go I, A, O. If there are two words, then the first is I, and the second is either A or O.”  Mish-mash, chit-chat, dilly-dally, shilly-shally, tip top, hip-hop, flip-flop, Tic Tac, sing-song, ding-dong, King Kong, ping-pong.

There’s another unwritten rule at work in the name Little Red Riding Hood, says the article. Articles in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion, size, age, color, origin, material, purpose, noun.  So, you can have a lovely, little, old, rectangular, green, French, silver, whittling knife.  If you tamper with that word order in the slightest, you sound like a maniac.

That explains why we say “little green men”, and not “green little men,” but “Big Bad Wolf” sounds like a gross violation of the “opinion (bad)- size (big)- noun (wolf) order. It isn’t though, if you recall the first rule about the I-A-O order.

That rule seems inviolable. “All four of a horse’s feet make exactly the same sound, but we always say clip-clop, never clop-clip.”  This rule even has a technical name, if you care to know about it – the rule of ablaut reduplication – but then life is simpler knowing that we know the rule, without knowing it.

Play it by ear.
If a word sequence sounds wrong, it probably is wrong.