Merriam-Webster Time Traveler

Unknown.jpegThis is fun—check out this link: Merriam-Webster’s Time Traveler. Enter any year and find what words were first introduced into the M-W Dictionary that year. See what words were born when you were.

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Random WordThought

                                                 Is Mylie Cyrus proud of her tung?

You’ve probably figured out that I’m obsessed, OK, intrigued by the English language. I was stopped in  traffic (surprise!) on the way to the gym this afternoon and saw that the car in front of me was a Nissan Rogue.  The —gue isn’t pronounced. That made me think about other words ending with —gue, such as argue and ague, in which the —gue is pronounced. Why aren’t those words pronounced arg and ag (aig), respectively? I can think of many other —gue words: tongueintrigue, demagogue, synagogue, league, fatigue, harangue, meringue, prologue, epilogue, travelog(ue), ideologue, and pedagogue—but none of those final two letters are pronounced.

Please try to hold your comments urging me to get a life. And I apologize for subjecting you to the photograph of Ms. Cyrus and her revolting tung.

 

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What is “Wotcher”?

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Idris Elba as “Luther”

My husband and I have been watching the compelling but brutal English detective show “Luther,” on Netflix. We recently noticed people greeting each other with the one word, “Wotcher.” I had to look up what it means. Apparently, it’s more common in the south of England and was used frequently in the Harry Potter books. I read and loved all of them (well, Book 5 was a little tedious), but I have no recollection of coming across any wotchers. Certainly, Voldemort never greeted anyone that way.

The explanations I found were that it’s a compression of any common greeting that begins with “What are”: What are you up to? What are you doing? In other words, or word, Wotcher up to? Wotcher doing? —except the Brits leave off the ends of the questions.

Another theory is that it comes from 17th century British slang that meant “What cheer?” another way to say “What’s up?”

Now I know.

 

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Schopenhauer on Women

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I am a member of a group in Los Angeles called the PLATO Society. (It has nothing to do with Plato; it’s an acronym.) It’s comprised of study/discussion groups that last for 14 weeks, and each of the 14 members of the various groups takes a turn leading the discussion. My course this term is on historic speeches, and one I have chosen was delivered by Nancy Astor, who was the first woman to serve in the English Parliament. In it she states that the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer was “always wrong about women.” I knew nothing about him, so I googled and came up with the following. Enjoy.

“Women are directly adapted to act as the nurses and educators of our early childhood, for the simple reason that they themselves are childish, foolish, and short-sighted—in a word, are big children all their lives, something intermediate between the child and the man, who is a man in the strict sense of the word. Consider how a young girl will toy day after day with a child, dance with it and sing to it; and then consider what a man, with the very best intentions in the world, could do in her place.”

What a guy.

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Cats and Commas

From my friend Pat in New Jersey. How I love this!

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All right, already!

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I’m not sure how Bob Marley originally wrote this song, but someone needed to mention that alright is not generally accepted as a correct spelling. It’s two words, ALL RIGHT. All right?

As for the title of this post, already means “up until this time.” All ready means “complete, finished.” The posters for the campaign were all ready to be picked up. George already got them this afternoon.

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Origin of a Cliché

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Apropos of tax day plus one (anyone feeling the pain?), did the expression that you were “paying through the nose” occur to you?

Most clichés can’t be traced to a specific source, but this one can. When the Danes conquered the Irish in the ninth century, they instituted a “nose tax.” If the Irish did not pay, their nostrils were slit. I wonder if this was the inspiration for what Jack Nicholson’s character did in the movie “Chinatown.”

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