Sunday, May 01, 2016

Gorge


Kevin asked about the connection between stuffing oneself with food (gorge) and the narrow opening between hills (gorge). They definitely are connected. In each case a throat shape is involved.

The word probably came from a Latin word, gurgulio, which meant the windpipe. At first, gorge was the external throat, then the internal throat, then the crop of a hawk, then a narrow opening between hills or a ravine with rocky walls. It led to an image to express disgust: one’s gorge rises, the prelude to vomiting. Gorge also had military and architectural meanings.

The word gorgeous is not related at all, though it shares a letter sequence. Gorgeous probably came from an Old French word that meant elegantly or finely dressed. However, the words gurgle and gargle are connected to gorge. That Latin word mentioned earlier forms the base for each. It also figures in gargoyle, the grotesque carving that often appeared on cathedrals. The gargoyle acted as a rain spout—the water came flowing from its mouth.


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.





Thursday, April 21, 2016

You’re Smart, but That Smarts!


Phil from Traverse City asked about the connection between smart (intelligent), and something that smarts (hurts). Oddly enough, both meanings attach to the same word.

Tracing the meaning through the centures by using the Oxford English Dictionary makes things clear.

·      In 1225, smart meant severe and intense pain. Feel the smart! could have been the cliché du jour.

·      By 1300, pain had been stripped out, and the focus was now intensity. Smart referred to a natural force or process that was strong, vigorous, bracing, and keen. 
·      Roughly a century later, smart meant a person who was quick in action or response; such a person was lively, active, and prompt. 
·      By 1571, smart meant the now familiar clever, intelligent, and knowledgeable.
·      In 1644, the focus was on something distinct, sharp, and clearly outlined. 
·      Twenty years later, there was a shift to something delivered quickly and sharply, as a blow.

·      Now we have smart mobs who are assembled through the use of smart phones and other mobile devices and who may reach their destination in smart cars.


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.



Sunday, April 10, 2016

Umlaut or Diaeresis?


Carol from East Bay asked about the double dots used above some vowels, such as Häagen-Dazs. Though they look identical, there are two different elements that use these dots: the umlaut and the diaeresis.

The umlaut [Ger. changed sound] is strongly Germanic and changes the sound of a vowel. The sound change may also involve a change in meaning: schon means already, but schön means beautiful. Two other examples are Kurt Gödel and über.

The diaeresis [Gr. divide] is used when two vowels sit side by side and are meant to be pronounced separately: naïve, Laocoön, preëmptive, coöperation, Noël. Many publications have stopped using this mark in common words, the thought being that few people will pronounce cooperation, for instance, as if it were a chicken coop.

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Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.





Friday, April 01, 2016

Castigate


Melody asked about the word castigate. It means to correct, to rebuke, to subdue. It comes from the Latin verb castigare, to correct or reprove. In turn, that came from the Latin adjective castus, pure. Related forms are castigation, castigative, castigator, and castigatory.

Chastise and chasten are close relatives. They share the same Latin links. Synonyms include reprimand, rebuke, admonish, chide, censure, upbraid, berate, and lambaste.

If thou didst put this soure cold habit on To castigate thy pride,'twere well. [Shakespeare, "Timon" IV.iii (1607)]

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.comand clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.





Friday, March 25, 2016

Raunchy



Doug from Traverse City asked about the word raunchy. Originally, it meant sloppy and unkempt. It then came to mean bawdy and off-color. Most dictionaries declare that its origin is unknown. It first shows up in print in the 1930s, and it may have been Army-Air Corps slang—a reference to an improperly worn or cared-for uniform.

The word has a number of interesting synonyms and near-synonyms, a testimony to a sophomoric tendency to tell off-color jokes.

·    bawdy:  < Old French baud, licentious
·    lascivious: < Latin lascivia, licentious
·    obscene: < Latin obscenus, lewd
·    scatological: < Greek root skat-, dung
·    risqué: < French risqué, unsuitable
·    salacious: < Latin salax, lustful, “fond of leaping upon”
·    ribald: < Old French riber, to indulge in pleasure
·    licentious: < Latin licentia, license, in the sense of excessive permissiveness

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.





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