Saturday, December 31, 2011

3Q


A caller wanted to know the significance of 3Q, which seems to be rising in popularity. It was new to me, so I started googling. This resulted in stumbling across the blog titled The View From Taiwan. In turn, that sent me to an explanation on the blog EastWestSouthNorth.


If the construct had been invented in English, it would be 10Q. Say that aloud and you’ll notice that it is very close to thank you. 3Q originated in Japan. The number 3 is pronounced san, so it comes out as sankyou, an approximation of thank you.


You’ll find an expanded version (3QOrz) here.


Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mayhem


No doubt inspired by the name of the character in current Allstate Auto Insurance ads, an anonymous caller asked about the word mayhem.

There is some uncertainty about its origin, but it is a close relative of the word maim, to cause bodily harm and even disfigurement. Today, mayhem is taken to mean chaos and disorder caused by physical intervention.

Originally, it was a legal term (perhaps borrowed from Old French) that signified the infliction of physical injury on a person to such a degree that it compromises efforts at self-defense. The Free Dictionary by Farlex has this definition online: “1) n. the criminal act of disabling, disfiguring, or cutting off or making useless one of the members (leg, arm, hand, foot, eye) of another either intentionally or in a fight, called maiming. The serious nature of the injury makes mayhem a felony, which is called ‘aggravated assault’ in most states. 2) v. to commit mayhem is to cause gross harm in an uncontrolled fashion.”


Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays




icon art by Dona Sheehan

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dungarees, Jeans, and Denim


Doug from Traverse City asked about the origin of the word dungarees. Those are the (usually) blue trousers made from a rough material. Most people refer to them as blue jeans.

The word shows up in English in 1613. It came from a Hindi word, dungri, which meant coarse calico. In turn, that word came from the name of the village that produced the material. The village was eventually subsumed by Bombay.

Jeans, by the way, is also eponymous. It was named after Genoa, Italy. Likewise, denim was named after Nimes, France, where the fabric was produced.


Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org


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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

August


Ron wrote, “What is the origin of the word august? I heard somebody today refer to themselves as among the august group of speakers covered in a publication. When used in that context, is the accent on the second syllable? How is it related to the month August, and is the word gusto a cousin of august?”

AUGust is the pronunciation for the month, and auGUSTis the pronunciation for the word meaning majestic, sublime, and revered. Both are ultimately indebted to a Latin verb, augere, which meant to increase, to magnify.

The name of the month, however, came through a more convoluted route. It was adapted from the name of the emperor Octavius Caesar. After his rise to power, he was entitled to the honorific augustus, worshipful and eminent. From that point on, he was known as Augustus Caesar—or, in the Latin style, Caesar Augustus:

“Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” [Luke II, 1-7, New American Standard Bible]

Gusto (relish or zest) is not related at all. It came from a Latin word meaning taste.


Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Put That In Your Pipe


Vic wrote to tell me that he had a question about a word used in The Cask of Amontillado, by Edgar Allen Poe. It occurs in this passage: "My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking to-day! But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts."

Pipe in this case means a barrel, and a similar word existed in a large cluster of Germanic and Scandinavian languages. The tubular wind instrument is connected, the common ground being the shape. And all kinds of tubing—many with medical applications—are also referred to as pipes. The Oxford English Dictionary gives 29 separate definitions for the word, and some of those have subcategories.

Hollow cylinders of all shapes and sizes referring to streams, gorges, saddlery, machine sockets, hairdressing, jewelry, plants, animal traps, beehives, mining and geological strata, volcanoes, tunnels, confectionary, computing, and smoking use the word pipe. Talk about versatility. . . .


Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Standing Affront


Sally asked about the word affront. It means to insult someone right to his or her face, to offer overt and clear provocation. It tracks back to a Latin phrase, ad frontem, which means “to the face.” Confront, to stand defiantly in one’s face, shares the same Latin root. Outfront used to be a synonym for confront, but it hasn’t been used in over 100 years as far as I know.

§ § §

Also this week, Ron Jolly asked if there was a connection between state and status. The answer is yes. Both are based on the Latin verb stare, to stand. We even speak of a person’s standing in the community, which is a form of status. Other words and combining forms sharing the root are estate, prostate, statue, stature, static (as opposed to dynamic), station, statistic ,-stat, -static, -statical, and stato-.

The following is a sample of –stat- words not based on the Latin stare: angustate, aristate, cristate, crustate, degustate, ecstatic, funestation, gestate, gustation, hastate, intestate, reforestation, and vastation.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Check out Mike's program-based books here:
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Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.

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Friday, December 09, 2011

Invitation: Word Study


On average, an adult knows about 40.000 words. Researchers in psychology and linguistics are interested in how these words are represented mentally. In this large-scale study we aim to build a network that captures this knowledge by playing the game of word associations. You can help us with this project by participating in this short and fun study.

The study consists of giving the first three words that come to mind for a list of 14 items. All ages and nationalities are welcome, but please note that we do require all participants to be fluent English speakers.

Our final aim is to collect the word associations for 45.000 words. To reach this goal, we are still looking for a large number of persons of all ages. Help us and send this link of our website to your family, friends or colleagues:

http://www.smallworldofwords.com


Prof. dr. Gert Storms, Department of Psychology, University of Leuven,

Tiensestraat 102, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Alley-Oop


David from East Bay asked about the sports term alley-oop. It’s used in a couple of sports.

In basketball, it’s a play in which a leaping player catches a pass above the basket and immediately slams the ball in. Some contend that it was developed at Oklahoma Baptist University. Others attribute it to North Carolina State University.

In football, it’s a play in which the receiver runs into the end zone and leaps higher than his defenders to catch a deliberately high pass. This was developed by the San Francisco 49ers in their 1957 season. They used it several times that year, but Joe Popa reminded me that the classic instance of an alley-oop occurred during a game against the Detroit Lions on November 3, 1957. Y.A. Tittle threw a pass to R.C. Owens with only 10 seconds left on the clock and with the Lions 3 points up. The 6’ 3” Owens (who had played basketball in college) soared up and over his defenders and snared the ball.

The phrase was originally French (allez-oop). It may roughly be translated as “up you go,” and it was the cry uttered by a circus acrobat about to leap or about to give a fellow performer a leg up.

I’m not sure whether there was a connection to sports or not, but a very popular syndicated newspaper comic strip was named Alley Oop. It featured a time-traveling cave man.


Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Check out Mike's program-based books here:
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Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


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Saturday, December 03, 2011

Angry Words


Kris and I were discussing words that show up frequently in headlines, but more sparsely in real-life conversations. She observed that ire fits that category.

Ire ranges from simple anger all the way to rage. It owes its existence to the Latin ira, anger. The Oxford English Dictionary labels it as chiefly poetic and rhetorical. Some recent headlines:

  • Israeli ads for expats prompt ire from US Jews
  • Catholic Mass changes raise praise, ire of parishioners
  • Delay in polar bear decision draws ire of Senate

Other words indebted to ira include irate (angry), iracund (full of wrath), irascent (leading to anger), irascible (prone to anger), and irascid (rare variant of irascible). But contrary to what your eye tells you, there is no ire in Ireland.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Amazon.com


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.

Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org


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