Thursday, 31 December 2009

A Word A Day - Last Two Weeks of the Decade

with Anu Garg

Fear and Desire. That sounds like the name of some 19th century novel. Instead, it is the theme for this week's words in AWAD. It seems that in English there's a word for every imaginable phobia and mania -- let's face up to some of these during the next few days.

agoraphobia

PRONUNCIATION:
(ag-uhr-uh-FO-bee-uh)

MEANING:
noun: A fear of being in public places, open spaces, or in crowds

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek agora (marketplace). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ger- (to gather) that is also the source of egregious, gregarious, disgregate, aggregate, congregation, and segregate.

USAGE:
"Concerns a polar bear would suffer agoraphobia after moving from a city zoo to four acres in the Highlands were unfounded." Agoraphobic Bear Fears 'Allayed'; BBC News (London, UK); Oct 30, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke. -Arthur Plotnik, editor and author (b. 1937)

dipsomania

PRONUNCIATION:
(dip-suh-MAY-nee-uh)

MEANING:
noun: An insatiable, periodic craving for alcohol

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek dipsa (thirst) + -mania (excessive enthusiasm or craze)

USAGE:
"As the emperor Janangir began his decline in the old familiar grip of dipsomania (both his brothers had died early of drink), his wife Nur Jahan took complete charge as his proxy."Sunil Sethi; Jahangir's Josephine; Outlook (New Delhi, India); Nov 27, 2000.

Explore "dipsomania" in the Visual Thesaurus.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence. -Bertrand Russell, philosopher, mathematician, author, Nobel laureate (1872-1970)

astraphobia

PRONUNCIATION:
(as-truh-FO-bee-uh)

MEANING:
noun: An abnormal fear of lightning and thunder

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek astrape (lightning). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ster- (star) that is also the source of star, asterisk, asteroid, astrology, disaster, stellar, constellation, Persian sitareh (star), and the names Stella and Esther.

NOTES:
Also known as astrapophobia and brontophobia (from Greek bronte-, thunder, which also gave us brontosaurus).

USAGE:
"In the USA, it is estimated around 10 per cent of people suffer from astraphobia to some degree." Don White; Weatherwatch; The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia); Dec 11, 2001.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Any advertisement in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It belongs to you. It's yours to take, re-arrange, and re-use. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head. -Banksy, street artist (b. 1974)

onomatomania

PRONUNCIATION:
(on-uh-mat-uh-MAY-nee-uh)

MEANING:
noun: An obsession with particular words or names and desire to recall or repeat them

ETYMOLOGY:
Via Latin, from Greek onoma (name) + -mania (excessive enthusiasm or craze)

USAGE:
"Every time Ammon Shea came across an interesting word, he jotted it down, desperate to avoid onomatomania." Nicole Martin; The Last Word; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Oct 4, 2008.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Not far from the invention of fire must rank the invention of doubt. -Thomas Henry Huxley, biologist (1825-1895)

acrophobia

PRONUNCIATION:
(ak-ruh-FOH-bee-uh)

MEANING:
noun: An abnormal fear of heights

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek acro- (height, tip) + -phobia (fear). Some related words are acronym (a word formed with the tips of other words), acrobat (one who walks on tiptoes), and acropolis (a city built on high ground).

USAGE:
"Dr Anthe George suggests that Mark would not even have been able to stand on the balcony of his own accord because of his acute acrophobia. 'Mark was truly afraid of heights. I do not mean he was afraid of standing on the edge of a cliff -- he was afraid of any height." Kevin Rawlinson; My Son Was Killed; The Independent (London, UK); Dec 9, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe. -Thomas Paine, philosopher and writer (1737-1809)

with Anu Garg
The new year is just around the corner. It brings new hopes, new ideas, new events. In a language, there's no new year -- it's always on the move. There's a constant churning in the waters of a language, words evolving, changing meanings, becoming obsolete, new words being born, gaining acceptance, and so on. This week we'll feature five words that today mean something quite different from their previous meanings.

beldam

PRONUNCIATION:
(BEL-duhm, -DAM)

MEANING:
noun: An old woman: a hag

ETYMOLOGY:
From Middle English beldam (grandmother), from Old French bel (fine) + dame (lady). In Middle English, the prefix bel was used to indicate relationships, such as belsire or belfader (grandfather, ancestor). In Modern French belle is still used to indicate in-law relationships. A belle-mère is a mother-in-law or a stepmother, for example.

USAGE:
"Carr mixes her story with such amusing oddballs as Carthage's mother, a vinegary and vain beldam." 'Bog' Weighed Down by Mundane Events; Minneapolis Star-Tribune; Mar 16, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The real index of civilization is when people are kinder than they need to be. -Louis de Berniere, novelist (b. 1954)

prude

PRONUNCIATION:
(prood)

MEANING:
noun: A person who is overly concerned with propriety or decorum

ETYMOLOGY:
From Old French prudefemme (wise or good woman), feminine of prud'homme (wise man). The word prude once had positive connotations, but nowadays it is used only in a negative sense.

USAGE:
"I'm not a prude, by any means, but with all her talent, Mariah Carey doesn't need to use her bodacious bod to garner attention." Candace Hammond; TV News is Front and Center; Cape Cod Times (Hyannis, Massachusetts); Nov 6, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one. -Leonard Matlovich, a gay Vietnam Veteran (1943-1988)

quantum

PRONUNCIATION:
(KWON-tuhm)

MEANING:
noun:
1. A quantity or amount
2. A portion
3. A large amount
4. The smallest amount of something that can exist independently
adjective:
Sudden; major

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin, neuter of quantus (how much or how great). In physics, a quantum jump or quantum leap is usually a small change, while in popular usage the term is used to mean a significant change.

USAGE:
"A quantum jump in the volume of traffic has made major snarls on the capital's periphery a routine affair for commuters." Dipak Kumar Dash; New Roadmap; The Times of India (New Delhi); Nov 7, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
A civilized society is one which tolerates eccentricity to the point of doubtful sanity. -Robert Frost, poet (1874-1963)

sycophant

PRONUNCIATION:
(SIK-uh-fuhnt, SY-kuh-, -fant)

MEANING:
noun: A servile self-seeking person who flatters in an attempt to win favor.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin sycophanta (informer, slanderer), from Greek sykophantes (informer, slanderer), from sykon (fig) + phainein (to show). How did a sycophant turned from one who shows a fig, to an informer, to a flatterer? There are two explanations though both are unconfirmed. The first theory is that the word referred to someone who informed against the theft or illegal export of figs in ancient Athens; other is that it referred to one who makes a fig sign. When the word arrived in the English language its meaning changed from an informer to a flatterer.

USAGE:
"There are few models around the world of coup plotters who have succeeded as civilian administrators. This is in part because dictators invariably begin to believe the sycophants who gather around them."The Savior Fantasy; The Washington Post; Oct 20, 1999.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Good men must not obey the laws too well. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

meticulous

PRONUNCIATION:
(muh-TIK-yuh-luhs)

MEANING:
adjective: Extremely careful, precise, or thorough.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin meticulosus (fearful), from metus (fear). Originally the term meant one who was fearful and eventually it acquired a positive sense.

USAGE:
"It was a movement that required the meticulous precision of a master surgeon." George Pelletier; A Christmas Story in Two Parts Eggnog; Nashua Telegraph (New Hampshire); Dec 24, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
When love is not madness, it is not love. -Pedro Calderon de la Barca, poet and dramatist (1600-1681)

ARTICLE: Blue Moon

By Ranjan Bhaduri
bluemoon_icstars_bigDec.29, (THAINDIAN NEWS) The recent hullabaloo about the possibility of a Blue moon on New Year’s eve has turned out to be a damp squib. It is not going to take place, at least not in Australia as the web sites and newspapers assumed. The possibility has been ruled out by the leading astronomers. Probably it started when some enthusiastic people misinterpreted the occurrence of a sophomore full moon in a month with blue moon. This phenomena happens once in every two or three years. However, the moon does not undergo any change in its color. According to the lunar calender, a blue moon will be seen on New Year’s Eve. However, its timing is 7:13 p.m. according to the GMT and not as per Australia’s time.

The Australians will get to see the moon on the dawn of 1st January. This means it will not be termed as a blue moon. It is not common place to get the moon, earth and sun in a straight line. After the New Year’s eve, the Australians will get the chance to witness a blue moon on January 30. However, for them February would be a month sans a full moon. It will be succeeded by another Blue moon in March. It was in 2007 when the Australians got to witness their last Blue moon.

The Blue moon is a celestial event that is eagerly awaited by the people interested in astronomy. While the residents of Australia will not get to see blue Moon on Dec 31st, people in UK will have the advantage over them owing to their location and time difference.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

WOW - Something for MD II

Tarantula Venom, New Treatment for Muscular Dystrophy?
Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Print ShareThisThey are big, hairy and to many people very scary – but scientists say tarantulas could be a key factor in helping people suffering from muscular dystrophy.

University of Buffalo biophysicists have found a protein in tarantula venom that shows promise as a potential therapy for MD, which is a group of inherited muscle diseases. Dr. Fredrick Sachs, a professor of physiology and biophysics at the University at Buffalo, and his colleagues discovered the peptide, which is called GsMTx4.

In collaboration with Dr. Eric Hoffman, director of the Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Sachs and his team extensively tested the effect of GsMTx4 on mice with muscular dystrophy and found the drug increased muscle strength and caused no deaths or toxicity.

Sachs said the peptide also has potential therapy for several other conditions, such as neuropathic pain and atrial fibrillation. In hopes of advancing the drug to clinical trials, Sachs and his colleagues have formed a biotech company in Buffalo, N.Y. called Rose Pharmaceuticals.

Sachs named the company "Rose," after the pet tarantula that has been living in his lab for nearly 20 years.

Currently, there's no cure for muscular dystrophy, but medications and therapy can help slow the course of the disease.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

ARTICLE: Ten Things Husbands Should Never Do...

Guys, we love you, we really do. But as wonderful as you are, every so often you do something that makes us want to jump out the nearest window (or push you out first). Please, please, don’t ever…

1. Offer to “babysit” your own kids. When your 16-year-old neighbor does it, it’s called babysitting. When a parent does it, it’s called child care, and it lasts for at least 18 years. Get it?

2. Imply that office work is harder than housework. At the end of a hard day, there may be smoke coming out of your ears, but let’s face it: You’ve basically been sitting on your butt. That same smoke is coming out of our ears too—but we’ve cleaned the house, shuttled the kids around, run errands all over town and lugged grocery bags besides. When we say we’re exhausted, we are exhausted.

3. Give a home appliance as a gift. Forgive us if we can’t work it up for this one. A new washing machine? Really? Can we get you some new snow tires?

4. Buy us the “cougar” perfume. Under our crew-neck sweaters may beat the heart of an untamed vixen—but most of us don’t want to smell like one. (Nice try, though.)

5. Brag about your driving. This is supposed to let us know that ours isn’t so great. If my husband tells me one more time that he’s been “accident-free since 1978,” I’m going to reach over, grab the wheel and make the car swerve into something, just to shut him up.

6. Be unimpressed by a meal that took a lot of time and trouble. I don’t know whose fault this is (Food Network? Julie and Julia?), but every so often we get the idea that it would be fun to make stock and spend the day basting. If the result is less than earth-shattering, say something nice anyway.

7. Buy clothes without trying them on. We know that the second you get into a department store you start to feel faint, but do us a favor and take the extra five minutes. Otherwise, you know who gets stuck with the returns?

8. Know it all, especially in public. Oh, honey. While you’re going on at length about whatever it is, we’re taking the temperature of the room, and we know everyone’s starting to fidget.

9. Say anything remotely critical about our new haircut. Sometimes getting a new cut goes well; sometimes it doesn’t. Usually we know the difference. Don’t rub it in.

10. Expect a medal for doing a little housework. Umm…it’s your house too, right? For now, we’ll give you the bronze. Maybe someday, if you work hard enough, you can pick up a gold.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Tiger Woods... and Why Do We Care?

Let's be honest. This is not about Tiger. Next week it will be someone else who is rich, famous or both. (The common folk do this stuff, too, but being common, we are completely un-newsworthy!) So why do we care? Does anyone care?

Here are several reasons not to care:

1. Statistically speaking this happens all the time
2. Elin won't go broke anytime soon, pre-nup or no
3. Tiger had a history of this (who is the stupid one here?)
4. Famous/wealthy people get propositioned all the time - eventually the right person will ask!
5. People get bored and when you can have your pick...
6. Wasn't there some teeny little voice in the back of Elin's mind when they were getting married, saying, "Maybe this is not the best idea? Maybe he is too famous?"

That was right off the top. If I mull it over I can come up with more. You see my point, though. And take your pick of the famous people getting/have gotten divorced.

Next week, I'll post about famous people who should be jailed for the names they gave their children... another sign that you have too much money/fame!

Catching Up With WORDS!

Remember the old days when I could post all the time? They disappeared for a while, so I have weeks worth of A Word A Day posts to put up! Here we go:

Week ending 29 November 2009:
A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Last week we featured verbs. Now it's the turn for their little helpers: adverbs. Adverbs help verbs describe the action with more precision or more detail. How did she enter the room? Cautiously, gingerly, excitedly, etc. We know adverbs as words ending in -ly, but adverbs come in many garbs. This week we'll feature five unusual adverbs.

doggo

PRONUNCIATION: (DOW-goh, DOG-oh)

MEANING:
adverb: Still and quiet (used in the form: to lie doggo)

ETYMOLOGY:
Probably from dog

USAGE:
"The possibility is that [the Australian cricket team members] are merely lying doggo before they come out blazing in the next three days." Stephen Brenkley; Cricket: Anderson Has Australia in Deep Strife; The Independent (London, UK); Jul 18, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Hypocrisy is the homage which vice pays to virtue. -Francois, duc de La Rochefoucauld, moralist (1613-1680)

cap-a-pie

PRONUNCIATION:
(kap-uh-PEE)

MEANING:
adverb: From head to foot

ETYMOLOGY:
From Middle French de cap a pé (from head to foot). Interestingly, in Modern French the order of head and foot has reversed in this term: de pied en cap.

USAGE:
"The guest curator is Dr David Starkey. He explains the first exhibit -- the Earl of Pembroke on a charger, both man and horse cap-a-pie in full armour." Guy Liardet; Flesh and Blood of a Virgin Queen; The Times (London, UK); May 1, 2003.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it. -William Styron, novelist (1925-2006)

videlice

PRONUNCIATION:
(vi-DEL-uh-sit, wi-DAY-li-ket)

MEANING:
adverb: That is; namely; to wit (used to introduce examples or details)

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin videlicet, contraction of videre licet (it's permissible to see), from videre (to see) and licere (to be permitted). The word is mostly used in its abbreviated form, viz. How did this abbreviation come about? In medieval Latin, the symbol of contraction for -et resembled the shape of z.

USAGE:
"The choreographer, videlicet Victor Kabaniaev, received formal training in Russia and has created more than 40 dance and ballet works." Jeffrey R. Smith; A Jaw-Dropping Dracul at The Crucible; Alameda Sun (California); Jan 15, 2009.

"In 1902, the Wanganui Herald reported that the mayor had proposed 'to have the name of our town spelt correctly - viz, by reinstating the letter h, making it Whanganui in accordance with its original name and meaning.'" One Little Letter Means So Much; Dominion Post (Wellington, New Zealand); Sep 18, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Nations have recently been led to borrow billions for war; no nation has ever borrowed largely for education. Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both. -Abraham Flexner, educator (1866-1959)

apropos

PRONUNCIATION:
(ap-ruh-PO)

MEANING:
adverb: 1. In reference to
2. Appropriately; relevantly
adjective: Appropriate

ETYMOLOGY:
From French à propos (to the purpose), from Latin propositium (purpose), from ponere (to put). Ultimately from the Indo-European root apo- (off or away) that is also the source of pose, apposite, after, off, awkward, post, and puny.

USAGE:
"Tom Stoppard said, apropos of his play Arcadia, that there were some works that made a playwright feel not so much proud as lucky." Alastair Macaulay; When Death (That Bowler-Hatted Gent) Comes Calling in Dreams; The New York Times; Mar 6, 2008.

"In the Radio Times interview, Eileen Atkins's comments seemed to arrive apropos of nothing." Katy Guest; Ladettes, Feminists and a Dame; Independent on Sunday (London, UK); Aug 3, 2008.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Words / as slippery as smooth grapes, / words exploding in the light / like dormant seeds waiting / in the vaults of vocabulary, / alive again, and giving life: / once again the heart distills them. -Pablo Neruda, poet and diplomat (1904-1973)

scienter

PRONUNCIATION:
(sy-EN-tuhr)

MEANING:
adverb: Deliberately; knowingly.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin scienter (knowingly), from scire (to know; to separate one thing from another). Ultimately from the Indo-European root skei- (to cut or split) that also gave us schism, ski, shin, science, conscience, and nice.

NOTES:
In law, scienter is an important concept. Scienter must be shown, i.e. a person was aware -- for example, the currency note he was passing was counterfeit -- to prove the guilt. The word is often used as a noun.

USAGE:
"The judge said that the complaint, if true, would show BankAtlantic's executives acted with scienter -- the intent or knowledge of wrongdoing that's the key to a plaintiff's argument in a class action complaint." Brian Bandell; Judge Lets Class Action Suit Proceed Against BankAtlantic Bancorp; South Florida Business Journal; May 22, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Forgive him, for he believes that the customs of his tribe are the laws of nature. -George Bernard Shaw, writer, Nobel laureate (1856-1950)

Week ending 6 December 2009:
A common misconception is that in the past when an immigrant to the US arrived on Ellis Island, the clerk at the registration office often changed a name, from Kwiatkovski to Kay, for example. While stories of renaming at the port of entry are mostly myths, many names were later anglicized, such as Pedersen becoming Peterson.

Something similar happens with the language. What do the words puny, petty, mayday have in common? Each is a French word that has been adopted into English with a phonetic respelling, from puisné, petit, and m'aidez (literally, Help me).

This week we've picked five French terms that are used in English with little change. They have the same spellings and meanings, though English pronunciations are a little different from their original French.

rapporteur

PRONUNCIATION:
(rap-or-TUHR)

MEANING:
noun:
1. Someone appointed by an organization, group, or committee to investigate or monitor an issue, and compile and present the findings
2. One who is designated to record the deliberations of a meeting

ETYMOLOGY:
From French raportour (reporter), from rapporter (to bring back, report), from apporter (to bring), from Latin portare (carry). Ultimately from the Indo-European root per- (to lead, pass over) that also gave us support, comport, petroleum, sport, passport, colporteur (a peddler of religious books), Swedish fartlek (a training technique), Norwegian fjord (bay), and Sanskrit parvat (mountain).
The word rapporteur in French has various other meanings besides a reporter, such as an informer or a tattletale, and a protractor.

USAGE:
"The United Nations special rapporteur, Raquel Rolnik, listened to it all patiently, occasionally taking notes, nodding encouragement." Chris McGreal; UN Meets Homeless Victims of American Property Dream; The Guardian (London, UK); Nov 12, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Reading a book is like rewriting it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms. -Angela Carter, novelist and journalist (1940-1992)

amour-propre or amour propre

PRONUNCIATION:
(ah-moor PRO-pruh)

MEANING:
noun: Self-esteem; self-respect

ETYMOLOGY:
From French amour-propre (self-esteem), from amour (love) + propre (own)

USAGE:
"Diaghilev was always happy to trample on the feelings of his colleagues if he thought that the outcome merited it and at different times we see Fokine, Benois, Bakst, and Nijinsky all desolated by jealousy and injured amour-propre." Luke Jennings; A Tyrannical Genius; The Observer (London, UK); Oct 25, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Man can be the most affectionate and altruistic of creatures, yet he's potentially more vicious than any other. He is the only one who can be persuaded to hate millions of his own kind whom he has never seen and to kill as many as he can lay his hands on in the name of his tribe or his God. -Benjamin Spock, pediatrician and author (1903-1998)

esprit de corps

PRONUNCIATION:
(eh-SPREE duh COR)

MEANING:
noun: A spirit of solidarity; a sense of pride, devotion, and honor among the members of a group.

ETYMOLOGY:
From French esprit (spirit), de (of), corps (body, group)

USAGE:
"Using cooking to promote an esprit de corps and employee bonding had its beginnings on the West Coast." Jonnie Bassaro; Corporate Employees Bond Through Cooking; News-Times (Danbury, Connecticut); Sep 17, 2007.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Commandment Number One for any truly civilized society is this: Let people be different. -David Grayson [pen name of Ray Stannard Baker], journalist, author (1870-1946)

chef-d'oeuvre

PRONUNCIATION:
(shay-DOO-vruh)

MEANING:
noun: A masterpiece

ETYMOLOGY:
From French chef-d'oeuvre (masterpiece), from chef (chief) + oeuvre (work)

USAGE:
"Not every item is a chef d'oeuvre: The Surrealists loved to create collages from trivial snapshots." Jorg von Uthmann; Kinky Dolls, Glass Tears Adorn Surrealist Photo Show; Bloomberg; Oct 29, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Every one is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody. -Mark Twain, author and humorist (1835-1910)

savoir-faire

PRONUNCIATION:
(SAV-wahr-fayr)

MEANING:
noun: The ability to say or do the right thing in any situation; tact

ETYMOLOGY:
From French savoir-faire (know-how), from savoir (to know) + faire (to do)

USAGE:
"In a cascade of thanks, C.S. Richardson bows gracefully to all those elegant Londoners, full of savoir faire." Peter Wells; The A to Z of Life; New Zealand Herald (Auckland); Jul 7, 2008.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt. -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

Week ending 13 December 2009:
"How do you find words?" Readers sometimes ask me. I like to say that words come to me. "Pick me!" "Pick me!" They raise their hands, eager to go out, be widely known in the language, and find a place on people's tongues.

From time to time I scour dictionaries for words, to seek out more obscure ones. When I stumble upon an interesting word, I feel as excited as a paleontologist might feel on finding a fossil, or a geologist on discovering a new form of rock. Shiny words, grimy words, words long and short, words with an unusual arrangement of letters, words to describe something unusual, and more.

rhopalic

PRONUNCIATION:
(ro-PAL-ik)

MEANING:
adjective: Having each successive word longer by a letter or syllable

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin rhopalicus, from Greek rhopalos (club, tapered cudgel)

NOTES:
A rhopalic verse or sentence is one that balloons -- where each word is a letter or a syllable longer. The word is also used as a noun. Here's a terrific example of a rhopalic by Dmitri Borgmann: "I do not know where family doctors acquired illegibly perplexing handwriting; nevertheless, extraordinary pharmaceutical intellectuality, counterbalancing indecipherability, transcendentalises intercommunications' incomprehensibleness."

USAGE:
"Soapy fired off a rhopalic sentence, that is, one in which each word is one letter longer than the word that precedes it: 'I am the only dummy player, perhaps, planning maneuvers calculated brilliantly, nevertheless outstandingly pachydermatous, notwithstanding unconstitutional unprofessionalism.'" Alan Truscott; Talking About Behavior; The New York Times; Oct 26, 1986.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep. -Henry Maudsley, psychiatrist (1835-1918)

periphrastic

PRONUNCIATION:
(per-uh-FRAS-tik)

MEANING:
adjective, also used as a noun:
1. Using a roundabout form of expression; wordy
2. Formed by the use of two or more words instead of inflection
Examples:
"daughter of John" (compared with "John's daughter)
"It did happen" (compared with "It happened")
"more stupid" (compared with "stupider")
"Do you have" (compared with "Have you")

ETYMOLOGY:
Via Latin, from Greek periphrastikos, from periphrazein (to explain around), from peri- (around) + phrazein (to speak, say)

USAGE:
"There is something frustratingly schematic about the characters ... periphrastic leader writer set against a reporter who speaks mostly in grunts and sighs." Charles Spencer; Alphabetical Order, Hampstead Theatre; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Apr 22, 2009. [leader = editorial]

"Some people are annoyed by the errors they find in others' choice of grammar or selection of vocabulary. To these guardians of language, there are few more egregious slip-ups (slips-up?) than ... to utilize an inflectional, rather than a periphrastic." Ammon Shea; Error-Proof; The New York Times; Sep 28, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I am not a lover of lawns. Rather would I see daisies in their thousands, ground ivy, hawkweed, and even the hated plantain with tall stems, and dandelions with splendid flowers and fairy down, than the too-well-tended lawn. -William Henry Hudson, author and naturalist (1841-1922)

epanorthosis

PRONUNCIATION:
(ep-uh-nor-THO-sis)

MEANING:
noun: The immediate rephrasing of something said in order to correct it or to make it stronger. Usually indicated by: no, nay, rather, I mean, etc.
Example: I've warned you a thousand, no, a million times

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek epanorthosis (correction, revision), from epi- (upon) + ana- (again) + orthosis (making straight), from ortho (straight)

MORE EXAMPLES:
God bless the King, -- I mean the faith's defender!
God bless -- no harm in blessing -- the Pretender!
(John Byrom)

No, let the monarch's bags and others hold
The flattering, mighty, nay, al-mighty gold.
(John Wolcot)

USAGE:
"But rather, simply the two most beautiful words in the language (let's face it, epanorthosis is my million-dollar baby)." Michael Brodsky; We Can Report Them; Thunder's Mouth Press; 1999.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
He felt justified to kill birds for a museum where they would be preserved forever, as some feel justified to eat fish, chicken, or other meat that is digested in hours. Which is more justified? And even if necessary, how do you justify? Those who are familiar with ancient folklore, or are up above the rest of us a moral notch or two, kill "respectfully" by offering prayers or apologies, in the hope that animals will "offer themselves" up to be voluntarily killed. However, it is a sad fact that no animal cares if those who might eat them invent reasons to justify their acts (to make themselves feel good). -Bernd Heinrich, biology professor and author (b. 1940)

monepic

PRONUNCIATION:
(mun-NEP-ik)

MEANING:
adjective: Composed of a single word or single-word sentences

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek mono- (one) + epos (speech, word)

USAGE:
"His speech is monepic. These words consist of substantives, such as mamma, nurse, milk, and so forth." James Sully; Popular Science; Nov 1894.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Great thoughts reduced to practice become great acts. -William Hazlitt, essayist (1778-1830)

ploce

PRONUNCIATION:
(PLO-see)

MEANING:
noun: The repetition of a word or phrase for rhetorical emphasis or for extended meaning
Examples:
"Why wilt thou sleep the sleep of death?" (William Blake)
"Make war upon themselves - brother to brother / Blood to blood, self against self." (Shakespeare)

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin ploce, from Greek ploke (plaiting), from plekein (to plait).

USAGE:
"Theme and irony both seem to echo through the following lines, in which ploce and pronouns play off one another. Duncan speaks to Lady Macbeth about love and thanks her for the 'trouble' of hosting his visit:
The love that follows us sometimes is our trouble
Which still we thank as love. Herein I teach you
How you shall bid God 'ild us for your pains,
And thank us for your trouble."
Paul Pellikka; Echoes of Sound and Sense in Macbeth; Style; Spring 1997

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey. -Kenji Miyazawa, poet and story writer (1896-1933)

Week ending 20 December:
A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

This week we'll feature a potpourri of words. We opened a dictionary, shook it gently, and five words fell out. They came in all shapes, sizes, and senses. They're short and long. They're flighty and grouchy. Call 'em what you will, a medley of words, a farrago, or a gallimaufry. They're disparate, they're diverse. They're varied and variegated, unclassified and unsorted. And they're all ready for use.

anomie or anomy

PRONUNCIATION:
(AN-uh-mee)

MEANING:
noun: Social instability and alienation caused by the erosion of norms and values

ETYMOLOGY:
From French anomie, from Greek anomia (lawlessness), from anomos (lawless), from a- (without) + nomos (law). Ultimately from the Indo-European root nem- (to assign or take) that's also the source for words such as number, numb, nomad, metronome, astronomy, and nemesis.

USAGE:
"That didn't mean the music was emotionless, but that the emotions were bleak: isolation, urban anomie, feeling cold and hollow inside, paranoia." Simon Reynolds; One Nation Under A Moog; The Guardian (London, UK); Oct 10, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. -Vladimir Nabokov, (1899-1977)

simulacrum

PRONUNCIATION:
(sim-yuh-LAY-krum)

MEANING:
noun:
1. An image or representation
2. A vague resemblance to something

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin simulare (to simulate), from similis (like). Ultimately from the Indo-European root sem- (one) that is also the source of simultaneous, assemble, simple, Sanskrit sandhi (union), Russian samovar (a metal urn, literally, self-boiler), and Greek hamadryad (a wood nymph, who lives in a tree and dies when it dies).

USAGE:
"The game [Webkinz] also offers an outlet to exercise a simulacrum of control over aspects of their lives, an opportunity often not available in the day-to-day world." Akin Ajayi; Every Kid Wants A Petting Zoo at Home; Jerusalem Post (Israel); Dec 3, 2009.

"Edward [the vampire] is stuck forever in the simulacrum of a devastatingly attractive 17-year-old boy." Olivia Laing; The Mormon Queen of the Damned; New Zealand Herald (Auckland); Nov 21, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. -Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and writer (121-180)

avoirdupois

PRONUNCIATION:
(av-ur-duh-POIZ, -PWA)

MEANING:
noun: Heaviness or weight of a person

ETYMOLOGY:
From Middle English avoir de pois (goods sold by weight), from Old French aveir de peis (goods of weight), originally referred to things sold in bulk

USAGE:
"Both McKay and Welles are tall and carry a fair amount of avoirdupois." Sam Allis; Getting Orson Welles Just Right; Boston Globe; Dec 6, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The vanquished know war. They see through the empty jingoism of those who use the abstract words of glory, honor, and patriotism to mask the cries of the wounded, the senseless killing, war profiteering, and chest-pounding grief. -Chris Hedges, journalist, author, and war correspondent (b. 1956)

arrogate

PRONUNCIATION:
(AIR-uh-gayt)

MEANING:
verb tr.:
1. To claim as a right for oneself presumptuously
2. To claim on behalf of another: to attribute or assign

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin arrogatus (appropriated), past participle of arrogare, from rogare (to ask). Ultimately from the Indo-European reg- (to move in a straight line, to lead or rule) that is also the source of arrogant, regent, regime, direct, rectangle, erect, rectum, alert, source, surge, supererogatory, abrogate, and prorogue.

USAGE:
"Youth fills you with optimistic thoughts, bursts with energy, and brims with confidence. It is the stage where you feel that your calling in life is to change the existing order for betterment arrogating the role of the social arbiter." Philip Fernando; Understanding the JVP; Daily News (Colombo, Sri Lanka); Dec 8, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Many demolitions are actually renovations. -Jalaluddin Rumi, poet and mystic (1207-1273)

pother

PRONUNCIATION:
(POTH-uhr)

MEANING:
noun:
1. A commotion or fuss
2. Mental turmoil
3. A smothering cloud of dust or smoke

verb tr.:
To confuse or worry someone
verb intr.: To worry or fuss

ETYMOLOGY:
Of unknown origin

USAGE:
"Very little will change whether that appointee is Caroline Kennedy or someone else. So why all the pother?" Ed Quillen; Expanded Non-story Season; Denver Post; Dec 28, 2008.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I am always sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigrees of nations. -Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)

YEEEAAASSSS!

Look at this! I'm on! YEEEEEHHHAAA!

After a too-long dry period, I'm back! Life is so good and about to get so much better! And you are sitting there shaking your head and chuckling, because I have been "jonesing" to write on my blog! Laugh away, my friends, it is funny. At least I'm just jonesing to do this... unlike the frequent fliers on the rig who indulged in their need for alcohol, drugs, both... I'd rather be like me, thanks.

And now, back to all the backlog of things that need to be said and posted!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A Bad Confluence of Events

Nothing serious. I just can access Blogger from only two places:

Work
Luis' computer

Work is immediately out of the question. It is not even in the equation. I made the rules, so breaking them is not acceptable. That's one avenue down.

Luis' computer is - as you can see - available, but the moment he gets home all bets are off. You cannot come between a gamer and his computer. Watching him come h0me to this unit is like watching Stratavarius go to his violin. I know where my blogging falls in the grand scheme of things.

I have two computers - my office one, where my awesome new monitor is now completely non-functional; and my laptop, which somehow now can't log in to Blogger the moment I finished installing Windows 7 - a pity. Eventually I'll find the cure. Eventually I will take care of the monitor, too. I got it in August, so the clock is definitely ticking...

So five million things have gone unsaid - so unlike me - because of this weird confluence of celestial computer bad karma... or something like that. And a few million more things will go unsaid until I finally get this all resolved.

In the meantime, happy holidays!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Finally Enjoying the Ride!

I have been feeling so good since getting back from Philly and getting into a more normal rhythm of living. I still feel good. I e-mailed my doctor to set up an appointment so I can follow up with the sleep testing and ask if they know any particular opthamalogist in the CIGNA plan. I wanna get this ball rolling!

And I love the medication for my muscles! Almost no side effects, doesn't make me tired or loopy on a full stomach, does make me tired on an empty stomach and works well in tandem with Ambien, so I have cut back on that.
I eating less, getting back into exercising, getting into the holidays and taking pictures again... it's awesome! And work - I always love work but it had gotten so uncomfortable with the back spasms and neck tightness. Now I am focussing on work and not being in pain!

I don't think of it often, or I should say, I try not to think that this may just be a momentary thing. I don't want this to be a couple weeks of feeling great and then going back to the mess I was. That does scare me... but I am working on making sure that this won't happen!