Those of you who have stuck with me for any length of time, know that I am obsessed with words and the English language. We all learn at a young age certain rules for spelling the words. And probably the one that we all remember well after leaving our English classes far behind is I BEFORE E EXCEPT AFTER C.
But hang on, there are exceptions to the rule and the exceptions prove the rule. Here I have to say that our English teacher, most appropriately named Miss English, told us that the comment was that exceptions probe the rule. Which did you learn?
But wait, how does the exception prove the rule? Wouldn’t it do just the opposite? Doesn’t it prove that the rule does not hold for all cases and is therefore not a rule at all?
Today when noodling (my sister’s word) around the web I came across this. And I just had to share it.
Oh and another new word, just in case you aren’t impressed with The Eight. Do you know this word?
Thanks to my sister in Los Angeles for this. And as I said to her, I always thought I was the dancer in the family.Here endeth tody’s English lesson, except for this quote that I found once again noodling around the web.
Here endeth tody’s English lesson, except for this quote that I found once again noodling around the web.
Drawing on my fine command of the English language,
I said nothing.
Robert Charles Benchley.American humorist, and
In the northern hemisphere you have unsettled weather in March and we have it here in September.
Image stolen from Jeff at jccsst-random.blogspot.co.nz
Well yesterday Wednesday) I said we had all weather conditions in one day except snow, well today has made up for that. We had a slight fall of snow here in Wellington but we also had hail. And the Cook Straight Ferry sailings between the two islands have been cancelled all day. Apparently thee were waves up to 6 metres at times and we have just been informed that the gale force winds reached 130 kmh. Windy indeed. Several roads have been closed for the day and we are being warned not to go out on the roads unless absolutely necessary.
So obviously walking was out of the question, instead a friend picked me up and we went into town for lunch and while she popped into her office for a short time, I took the opportunity to do some retail therapy. See how well I am recovering.
And now continuing with my obsession with words Ive just been reading a post from September 9 2011 when i was very new to blogging and was writing every day. How very disciplined I was then. It was called Playing with words
“Better than a thousand hollow words,
is one word that brings peace. ”
In that post I commented onOnomatopoeia and and came up with a word for each letter of the alphabet. The comments were interesting as many of my followers like words andI love words. I like the sound of them, I like to see them written down and I like to see them used by others in different ways and I just like playing with them.
See what you think of my alphabet. Can you offer other words? I’d love to hear from you.
“Pray don’t talk to me about the weather, Mr. Worthing.
Whenever people talk to me about the weather,
I always feel quite certain that they mean something else.
And that makes me quite nervous.”
― Oscar Wilde
Well, we were warned that it was to be a cold wet and windy day. Apparently there is a southerly storm creeping across the country and nowhere will be immune from it’s effects. I guess that’s one of the things about living in a small long and narrow country. Sometimes one just can’t get away from the storm.
Well, as you know I’m a pluviophile and I’m English and like walking in the rain so I got ready for today’s walk. But discretion took over. The wind is close to gale force at present and I was told in no uncertain terms to say inside. So that I did and no walking today.
But today was supposed to be called A Word on Wednesday. You all know how I love words and get very excited when I find a new one. Well yesterday I found one –
Peregrinate – to travel or journey especially on foot. Henry James had this to say about peregrinate – “But I seem to travel, to peregrinate less and less and so I am reduced to living on my past accumulations” But not for me. I propose to keep walking and finding ever new places to see.
And now after lunch with a friend it’s 4pm and the sun is shining. The only thing we haven’t had today in Wellington is snow, but we are promised the gale force southerly tonight, so who knows.
And just because I love this, I offer it to you.
The plaque at the entrance to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Venice
Are you a cruciverbalist? I am. I always thought this was a designer of crossword puzzles but now I understand ( after looking it up on our trusty Wikipedia) that it can also apply to an enthusiast of word games and of crossword puzzles.
I have played word games, with my father and sisters, since I was young. My father did crosswords well into his 90s even though he was officially determined as blind.
Words have power. In ancient times spoken words created worlds, creatures, and human beings to educate and amuse their listeners. Along with drawings this was the way that myths, stories and histories were passed down through the generations. And still we love words and what they tell us, where they can transport us to and what they can mean.
I have always been intrigued with words, how they sound and how they look on the page and what they actually mean. And we know that words even though they sound the same often have quite different meanings. Think about :
- Rain and reign. They sound the same but have totally different meanings and are spelt quite differently too.
- Their and there. Again they sound the same but have different meanings.
- Fore and four
- Nay and neigh
- Buy and bye
- Here and hear
- Saw and sore
- Bare and bear
I know that the spoken word often betrays the area from where the speaker hails – and there is another examples hails and hales. For instance if I say what (concentrating on the wh sound) it will sound quite different to the way in which my NZ educated grandchildren will say it. And I know you will be able to think of many instances yourself. In this day of people moving freely around the world, bringing different cultures to play many English words are heard that sound different to our ears.
And many more. But how clever to be able to design crosswords. Not only does one have to derive the clues but also to have the letters form into words where the letters intersect and also in the full word. I wish I were that clever.
The first page I turn to in the newspaper is always the puzzle page. In our local paper we have 4 crosswords daily – one cryptic (that I never manage to get out) one two-speed that has both regular and cryptic clues, and this is my favourite, one daily which is a regular crossword and another daily that is slightly more difficult. In addition to these we have a code cracker. In this we are given one or two of the letters and have to complete the rest of the puzzle using these. If you don’t have this in your newspaper click the link to see what it is.
So for any cruciverbalist there is plenty to keep us busy and happy.
“Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall,
but wise words endure.”
Edward Thorndike, 1874 – 1949
Just don’t go on about it. Pleonasm is tiring.
Yesterday at Today I Think Patricia gave us the definition of the word pleonasm: the use of more words than necessary to express an idea, redundancy.
In my comment I said I would now have to find a use for the word and Patricia responded to let her know when and how I could work it into a conversation. Well, I am not one to shirk a challenge, so here goes.
Photo credit NZ Herald
“Mr Prime Minister (we don’t have a President here in NZ) I think you should gather all your troops together and give them a lecture on pleonasm. The speeches are far too long and very boring.”
Can’t find photo credit. It’s on so many sites.
“Madam, can you please just cut to the chase. Pleonasm is tedious”.
Photo from habitsforahappyhome.wordpress.com/
“Mum, pleonasm is wasted on me. Just tell me in a few words what I did wrong.”
I now have to ask Patricia “Are these examples OK?”
And everybody else, what could you do with this lovely new word PLEONASM.
And no words are required to describe my rainbow.
- Pleonasms (neatorama.com)
- Why We’ll Miss Newspapers (andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com)
- Like nails on a chalkboard, part 1 (englishgrammargripe.com)
Isaac Kaufmann Funk ( 1839 – 1912) was an American Lutheran minister, editor, lexicographer, publisher, and spelling reformer. He is most well known for The Standard Dictionary of the English Language published in 1893. We are told via Wikipedia that “He worked with a team of more than 740 people. His aim was to provide essential information thoroughly and simply at the same time. In order to achieve this he placed current meanings first, archaic meanings second, and etymologies last. ”
We know that he collaborated with his classmate, Adam Willis Wagnalls and the I K Funk company was renamed Funk and Wagnalls and the encyclopedia was renamed Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Encyclopedia in 1931. It was later renamed New Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia, Universal Standard Encyclopedia, Funk & Wagnalls Standard Reference Encyclopedia, and Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia.quoted the best 10 words in the English language.as :
I read somewhere (?) that Isaac Funk considered the following the best ten words in the English language:
These are in no particular order and I wonder how he arrived at this list of ten. Certainly they are all gentle words with no harsh sounds or undertones. Was he a gentle man looking to find equally gentle words? I wonder
My choice of 10 words would be (again in no particular order):
What would your words be. It’s fun to limit the choice to only 10. Of course, there are many, many other words I could have chosen. Why did I choose these? They are all gentle words and maybe reflect where I am in my life’s journey now.
“But now the days grow short
I’m in the autumn of the year
And I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs
and it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year”
As sung by Frank Sinatra – It Was a Very Good Year.
And for me, they have mostly been very good years!
And a final word today from the Greek philosopher Epicurus (341 BCE – 270 BCE)
“It is impossible to live a pleasant life without
living wisely and well and justly.
And it is impossible to live wisely and well
and justly without living a pleasant life.”
Some recent posts on words –
As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free. Psychological freedom, a firm sense of self-esteem, is the most powerful weapon against the long night of physical slavery.
Martin Luther King, speech, Aug. 16, 1967
I recently received an email from my sister in Los Angeles, who is
almost as also obsessed with words, as follows:
“Judith, a word for you to use in a future blog. You may already know this word, although it’s not much used today
THIRLED: a term used to describe men who worked in the coal mines of Scotland. A thirled man was bonded for life to a company and wore a metal collar around his neck with the name of his owner stamped on it. These workers stood deep in the pits and cut coal that their wives and children then carried to the surface in baskets. They were paid two shilings and sixpence (sixty cents) for twelve hours of work and out of that, they paid for their own keep and were not supplied with food, shelter, or medical care. To survive, many families were forced to work all day and into the night in the freezing and dirty coal mines of Scotland. Thirled men were serfs, and if one removed his brass collar and ran away, he was captured by the sheriff and returned to his owner. His punishment was by the lash. He was punished for having stolen himself and his services from his master. This was the law in Scotland as late as 1799.”
“This definition of the word comes from “I Still Dream About You”, a novel by Fannie Flagg. The online definitions all seem to concentrate on the old English use of the word to indicate boring or drilling.”
I hadn’t ever heard the word and just as Maggie and Brenda do in the book I Googled the word thirled. But from Wikipedia I learned “Thirlage was the feudal law by which the laird (lord) could force all those vassals living on his lands to bring their grain to his mill to be ground, the justification was that an essential service was being provided at a great expense and had to be paid for by the users. Additionally vassals had to carry out repairs on the mill, maintaining the lade and weir as well as conveying new millstones to the site. ”
So while vocal Scottish abolitionists such as Charles Grant, Allan Ramsay and the Macauley Brothers Colin and Zachary, were worrying about slaves in other parts of the world it would appear that a form of slavery was flourishing in the British Isles as late as 1799.
Thanks to my big sister for bringing this word to my attention.
Kangaroo and joey
More fun with words today. Do you know the term kangaroo words? A kangaroo word carries within its spelling (in normal order) a small word that is a perfect synonym for itself. The etymology of the phrase kangaroo word is derived from the fact that kangaroos carry their young (known as joeys) in a body pouch; hence kangaroo words carry their joey words within themselves.
An example of this is Blossoms – note that it contains in the right order the synonym Blooms or Respite and Rest.
Here are some others to have fun with:
and the answers –
And if that is not enough, what can you do with –
Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I am going away for a few days vacation now that the big red Santa boot is off, so I shall not be posting on my blog for a week. But watch this space – I shall have plenty to share with you when I return.
Oh and I have just had a recollection – Captain Kangaroo when my children were growing up in Montreal. Whatever happened to him?
- Weekly Photo Challenge:Family (passionateaboutpets.wordpress.com)
Have you ever tried to write a blog on a friend’s computer? I tried to do so today with no appreciable result.
The computer is obviously older than mine; would not let me upload any of my photos; would not let me surf the web etc etc.
So I am left with only words today.
I think maybe I shall simply repeat the verse from yesterday’s blog and try again tomorrow to entertain you with some fantastic thoughts from this aging brain.
As the water cascades and tumbles
over the rocks in it’s rush
down to join the river
so my thoughts tumble around my brain
looking for an outlet
or a safe place to stop.”
Unfortunately, today, I am still looking for the safe place. So until tomorrow.
Here in New Zealand we have public radio without any advertising – Radio New Zealand National.. This is like Public Service radio in the United States and covers a wide and wonderful range of programmes that we wouldn’t otherwise have.
We have a three hour long programme each weekday morning and recently when listening to the programme I heard a report from London on the financial crisis unfolding across Europe. The reporter was an English woman with the most fantastic English accent. Apologies I didn’t get her name.
All during the interview she referred to the feckless nations (and here I wont name them for fear of offending somebody). And the word was repeated again and again.
‘Feckless’ means lacking in character or determination. Feeble. Weak. And apparently ‘feck’ is an obsolete word meaning value, or effect. That word went out of genera use some time ago but feckless remains. Using feckless in everyday conversation is very unusual and so I was taken by this constant use .
While I know the word, I have never considered using it in a sentence. So I gave it some thought. Here are some examples I came up with:
And then I could come up with no more. Can you help?
According to Dictionary.com “feckless 1590s, from feck, “effect, value, vigor” (late 15c.),
Scottish shortened form of effect; popularized by Carlyle, who left its opposite, feckful, in dialectal obscurity.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Another blog going nowhere.