Word of the Day for January 9th!


verb

 1. to make a crackling sound; crackle. 

Quotes

Kate could hardly remember now the dry rigid pallor of the heat, when the whole earth seemed to crepitate viciously with dry malevolence; like memory gone dry and sterile, hellish.
– D. H. Lawrence, The Plumed Serpent, 1926

When she came into the room, shaking rain-pearls from the hem of her black coat, I could feel her excitement–when she was like that the air around her seemed to crepitate as if an electric current were passing through it.
– John Banville, Athena, 1995

Origin

Crepitate derives from Latin crepitātus, the past participle of crepitāre “to rattle, rustle, chatter,” a frequentative verb from crepāre and having the same meaning. The word entered English in the 17th century and meant “to break wind, fart,” a meaning that crepitāre had in Latin; the word’s politer senses date from the 19th century. 

Word of the Day for July 13th

  • noun

 1. the voice of the people; popular opinion. 

  • Quotes

Polls are certainly useful devices for plumbing the depths of the vox populi.
– James D. Williams, “Detroit News Poll Not Quite What It Seems,” The Crisis, June–July 1992

Because of the recent silencing of most European democracies, in the choice of Willkie that night there was, even to many cynical or Democratic ears, an exciting, stirring sound, as of vox populi.
– “From Life’s Correspondents: Flanner on Willkie,” Life, October 28, 1940

  • Origin

Vox populi is of Latin origin, and is often found in the maxim vox populi, vox Dei meaning “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” It entered English in the mid-1500s. 

Word of the Day for July 5th

  • noun

1. the art of writing words with the proper letters, according to accepted usage; correct spelling. 

 2. the part of language study concerned with letters and spelling. 

 3. a method of spelling, as by the use of an alphabet or other system of symbols; spelling. 

 4. a system of such symbols: Missionaries provided the first orthography for the language. 

 5. an orthographic projection, or an elevation drawn by means of it. 

  • Quotes

… at bottom I disrespect our orthography most heartily, and as heartily disrespect everything that has been said by anybody in defence of it. Nothing professing to be a defence of our ludicrous spellings has had any basis, so far as my observation goes, except sentimentality.
– Mark Twain, “Chapters from My Autobiography,” North American Review, Volume CLXXXV, 1907

“Pardon me, sir. An urgent message just come on the despatch cart.” “‘Came,’ Constable.” The inspector examined the note. “Extraordinary. It seems, Constable Thackeray, that someone is asking me to release you from my class. I shall not refuse. Since the finer points of orthography have eluded you for so long, I am sure that they can wait another week.
– Peter Lovesey, Abracadaver, 1972

  • Origin

Orthography stems from the Greek word orthós meaning “straight, upright, correct.” It entered English in the early 1400s. 

Word of the Day for June 29th

adjective

 1. going beyond the requirements of duty. 

 2. greater than that required or needed; superfluous. 

  • Quotes

The manner of the Quartermaster had that air of supererogatory courtesy about it which almost invariably denotes artifice; for, while physiognomy and phrenology are but lame sciences at the best, the perhaps lead to as many false as right conclusions, we hold that there is no more infallible evidence of insincerity of purpose, short of overt acts, than a face that smiles when there is no occasion, and the tongue that is out of measure smooth.
– James Fenimore Cooper, The Pathfinder, 1840

But you are always given to surprise me with abundant kindness–with supererogatory kindness. I believe in that, certainly.
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning to H. S. Boyd, August 14, 1844

  • Origin

Supererogatory stems from the Medieval Latin superērogātōrius, with the root word ērogāre meaning “to pay out.” It entered English in the late 1500s. 

Here is Saturday’s Word of the Day…

  

groggery 

  • noun

 1. a slightly disreputable barroom. 

Quotes

P. Dusenheimer, standing in the door of his uninviting groggery, when the trains stopped for water, never received from the traveling public any patronage except facetious remarks upon his personal appearance.
– Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, The Gilded Age, 1873

A volleyball court seemed to occupy the confectioner’s shop, the confectioner was nearly on top of the bridal shop, and the bridal shop had insinuated itself into the groggery next door.
– Lawrence Millman, “The Bay Islands,” Islands, February, 1994

Origin

Groggery is an Americanism formed on the basis of the word grog meaning “a strong alcoholic drink.” It entered English in the early 1800s. 

Here’s an interesting word for our word of the day! 😊

  

adjective

 1. pertaining to, situated in, or forming small or narrow spaces or intervals between things or parts. 

 2. Anatomy. situated between the cells of a structure or part: interstitial tissue. 
noun

 1. Crystallography. an imperfection in a crystal caused by the presence of an extra atom in an otherwise complete lattice. 

Quotes

Philosophy should never have been purified. Rather than being seen as a problem, “dirty hands” should have been understood as the native condition of philosophic thought–present everywhere, often interstitial, essentially interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary in nature. Philosophy is a mangle. The philosopher’s hands were never clean and were never meant to be.
– Robert Frodeman and Adam Briggle, “When Philosophy Lost Its Way,” New York Times, January 11, 2016

We are come to a world within the world. In these alien reaches, these maugre sinks and interstitial wastes that the righteous see from carriage and car another life dreams.
– Cormac McCarthy, Suttree, 1979

Origin

Interstitial derives from the Latin interstitium meaning “interstice” or “an intervening space.” It entered English in the mid-1600s. 

Word of the day for Friday, 29th of January 

  

noun

 1. a highest point or state; culmination. 

 2. the point on the celestial sphere vertically above a given position or observer. 

Quotes

And at the zenith of his fame, how he would suddenly appear at the old village and stalk into church, brown and weather-beaten, in his black velvet doublet and trunks, his great jack-boots, his crimson sash, his belt bristling with horse pistols, his crime-rusted cutlass at his side, his slouch hat with waving plumes, his black flag unfurled, with the skull and crossbones on it, and hear with swelling ecstasy the whisperings, “It’s Tom Sawyer the Pirate!–the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main!”
– Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1876

Hence it can hardly be wondered at that as his learning accumulated his practice dissolved, until at the very moment when he had attained the zenith of his celebrity he had also reached the nadir of his fortunes.
– Arthur Conan Doyle, The Mystery of Cloomber, 1889

Origin

Zenith comes from the Middle English cenith, which in turn traces back to the Old Spanish zenit. The lineage continues to the Arabic samt meaning “road” as in samt ar-rās, “road above one’s head.” 

Word of the Day for 25th of January 

  

noun

 1. eager or excessive desire, especially to possess something; greed; avarice. 

Quotes

“Now Jonah’s Captain, shipmates, was one whose discernment detects crime in any way, but whose cupidity exposes it only in the penniless. In this world, shipmates, sin that pays its way can travel freely…”
– Herman Melville, Moby Dick, 1851

But the chevaux-de-frise of branches now lay within reach of his arm, and the very appearance of precaution it presented, as it announced the value of the effects it encircled, tempted his cupidity, and induced him to proceed.
– James Fenimore Cooper, The Prairie, 1827

Origin

Cupidity can be traced to the Latin word cupidus meaning “eager, desirous” from the Latin verb cupere “to desire.” 

Here’s the Word of the Day this New Year’s Eve 2015!

  

adjective

 1. glittering, especially with tinsel; decked with garish finery. 

noun

 1. imitation gold leaf; tinsel; false glitter. 

Quotes

Sharp perfumes stabbed the nostrils, clinquant finery flashed and glittered in a tinsel maelstrom…
– Arthur Cheney Train, The Needle’s Eye, 1924
Jubilation is the dominant mood when- and wherever a Christo/Jeanne-Claude project is realized. I have witnessed it time and again—32 years ago, in Loose Park, Kansas City, overlooking its Wrapped Walk Ways, every inch of the winding itinerary paved with bright clinquant stuff, of which Christo remarked: “When the sunlight falls on that nylon and sets it sparkling, it’s very beautiful.”
– Leo Steinberg, “Christo’s ‘Over the River’: An Act of Homage,” New York Review of Books, December 3, 2010

Origin

Clinquant entered English in the late 1500s and ultimately derives from the Dutch klinken meaning “to sound.” 

An Emoji for Word of the Year?

I found this post on Grammarly’s blog and had to share it here with all of you. Let me know your thoughts on this and if after reading the article you agree. 😂

More than words. 😂

The Oxford Dictionaries word of the year for 2015 is 😂. It’s an emoji. The reaction to this news has varied from 😱 (it’s the death of language!) to 😏 (it’s a lame publicity stunt). Emojis are not words. That’s something Oxford itself agrees on, defining the word as “a single distinct element of speech or writing.” We don’t speak in emojis or write in emojis, at least not the old pen-in-hand way. But in real-world conversation, we don’t rely solely on words; body language is said to make up 55% of communication . So perhaps the emoji is the digital equivalent, enhancing the tone of our message beyond words. If so, is it possible to distill the huge gamut of complex human emotion into a series of comic faces?

And why the “face with tears of joy” emoji? Oxford said it “best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015.” Is this the same 2015 defined by climate change talks, terrorist attacks, and a migrant crisis? These seem at total odds. However, together with Swiftkey, a mobile tech company, Oxford found 😂 was the most frequently used emoji of 2015. Could it be our tears of a collective clown? Or perhaps it is no reflection of our moods at all. Instead, emoji-speak is a self-contained discourse and we tailor our conversations and emotions to fit its limits. And this is the crucial shift that Oxford has acknowledged with their choice.

Seeing comes before words.

Using images in communication is nothing new. The first sentence in John Berger’s Ways of Seeing proposes that we understand images before words. “Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognises before it can speak.” So the popularity of emojis in digital conversations is not so surprising. Perhaps it allows us to return to a pre-linguistic form of expression and understanding.

This return to the dialogue of images is clear from the rise in photographic platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. Berger goes on to say that “It is seeing which establishes our place in the world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it.” It’s always a challenge to explain our world with words. But even a photograph is taken from an angle chosen by the photographer. Emojis are constructed by a certain group of people and used by people in a certain way. They are not as pure and simple a medium as they appear.

A picture paints a thousand words.

Emojis are loaded with meaning beyond the sum of their parts. Almost a century ago, Ferdinand de Saussure, a pioneer in the field of linguistics, wrote that language is a system of signs, and words are only part of this system. For Saussure and other semioticians (studiers of signs), anything at all that forms meaning is language. Meaning is coded in so much, from the clothes we wear to traffic lights changing color.

A word is a string of letters that is assigned a meaning, and this meaning is arbitrary to the word. In English, the word for a canine is dog. In French, it is chien. But both words signify the same object. However, images have a more natural relationship to what the are signifying. A photo of a house reflects the image of the house. In this way, emojis can transcend words and be understood across all cultures.

However, as emojis increase in popularity, their meanings become more layered. Roland Barthes, critical theorist, explored these layers of meaning and the idea of connotation. He used the example of a dove. A picture of a dove is the sign, while the bird itself is what is being signified or denoted. We link the image of the dove with its connotation: the concept of peace. This is as arbitrary a relationship as words have with their meanings.

In emoji land, new connotations are emerging. For example, the eggplant 🍆, has become more than a picture of a vegetable. It is now the phallic emoji. And not to be used in the wrong contexts.

Liberation through limitation.

The limited choice of emojis is inextricably linked to their success and personalities. We are confined to the images available in order to express ourselves. How often do we actually laugh so hard that we cry? Probably not enough in real life, but apparently we are digitally hysterical. As Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries, explained in announcing the decision, “Not only did we see a dramatic spike in usage of ‘Face with Tears of Joy,’ we felt the character captured a sense playfulness and intimacy that embodies emoji culture itself.”

The same images are reproduced over and over again, like emoji clichés or speaking through kitsch. Out on an emoji farm called Unicode in California, new crops of emojis are grown and their limits are established. Anyone is able to suggest new emojis to Unicode. Each proposal must include a case for the new creation and is then put to a committee who decides its fate.

The medium is the message.

This well-known phrase was coined in 1964 by communications philosopher Marshall McLuhan. Although the quote is often misunderstood as meaning that the vehicle is everything and the content is irrelevant, McLuhan actually meant something quite different. He used the example of a news story about a crime. The message, he says, is not the story itself, or the delivery, but the sense of fear that evolves from hearing the story. It’s noticing these “messages,” or shifts in culture (the “ground,” as he put it), that is crucial.

So perhaps Oxford Dictionaries, in naming an emoji as the word of the year, has noticed the McLuhan message—the shift in our discourse. Acknowledging this shift allows us to monitor and check the effect it may create, good or bad. Once viewed as juvenile and left to the kids, emojis have now been adopted by politicians. In a recent tweet, Hillary Clinton called for people to describe their feelings on student loans in three emojis. Even so, few politicians would use an emoji on a matter of serious public concern. Even Clinton’s emoji attempt received criticism for treating the topic of debt with flippancy. Emojis are light and playful, and can imbue an otherwise serious message with irony or wit.

Esperanto reincarnated?

It’s strange that these emojis, which have been around since 1999, have surged in popularity in 2015. This year, we have seen global political upheavals and threats, a huge migrant crisis, and the effects of climate change. But, as in any time of trouble or war, escapism is sought through art and culture. During World War II, musical films surged in popularity; Hollywood produced seventy-five musicals in 1944. So perhaps it’s not surprising that we are adopting this universal discourse in an effort to lighten the mood. The language of emojis allows us a certain tone that we cannot grasp through words or other imagery. And what’s more, in its transcending of cultures, emojis are a unifying language. This digital expression can fuse together cracks in failing traditional systems: a reincarnated Esperanto.

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