Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Marshal


During the course of my last program, the question of whether an argument is always equivalent to a fight came up. I pointed out that ideally, an argument is a rational process, while a fight often deteriorates into the emotional and physical. I then said something like, “you have to marshal your facts when you argue.”

Within minutes, a caller asked where the word marshal came from. I couldn’t remember, so here comes the delayed answer. In the context above, to marshal means to arrange, draw up, and manage.

The original meaning of the word was to groom and feed and generally tend to the health of a horse. Over time, it transferred to people, first settling on arranging places at a banquet. Eventually, it took on a military meaning: to arrange forces for fighting.

The next stage saw the word move to the civilian sphere: to arrange things or ideas in a methodical order. Sidebars to that meaning involved law, transportation, heraldry, and sports, but that places us in my original context.


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, February 25, 2012

Enclave Tourism


Rory saw a reference to enclave tourism and wrote for further information. The word enclave has both literal and figurative definitions. A physical enclave is a portion of territory or an entire country completely surrounded by another country. A figurative enclave is a group of people who are culturally, intellectually, or socially distinct from surrounding populations.

Enclave tourism involves a resort set up in such a manner that it is entirely self-sufficient. Contact with indigenous people is practically nonexistent. If the resort is located in a developing country, guests will have little or no opportunity to experience local culture and commerce. Insulation and isolation are regarded as positive safety measures, but local resentment is almost inevitable.

Ultimately, the word enclave comes from Latin words that amount to “locking in.” The -clav- sequence (signifying key) shows up in a few other words.

  • conclave: the assembly of cardinals met for the election of a Pope.
  • claviature: the keyboard of an organ or pianoforte.
  • clavichord: a musical instrument with strings and keys.
  • clavicle: the collarbone.
  • claviger: a key-keeper.


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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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kleptocracy


CNBC is running a series called Filthy Rich, and the promo for the show uses the word kleptocracy. It comes from the Greek, and it means government by thieves. In other words, some ruling families are illegally taking money from their citizens.

The word part klepto- means a thief in noun use, and to steal in verb use. It is used in a small number of English words and their variants.

· kleptobiosis: among ants, a system in which small ants steal food from larger ants.

· kleptolagnia: a morbid desire to achieve sexual gratification through theft.

· kleptomania: an irrepressible desire to steal, even if there is no need.

· kleptoparasitism: a form of parasitism in which a bird, insect, or other animal habitually steals prey or food from members of another species.

Occasionally, the –k– will become a –c–, as in cleptomania and cleptoparasitism.


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, February 19, 2012

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Darryl asked for sophisticated words designating breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m not sure what he’s going to do with them, but I advise restraint. Othrerwise, he’s going to sound stilted and pretentious; these words are obsolete. With that disclaimer, my conscience is clear.

Jentacular is an adjective for breakfast. It owes its existence to the Latin jentaculum, breakfast.

In Rome, prandium was the meal eaten at midday, so prandial will cover lunch, though in our day, it has become a rather generic term for a meal.

The Latin word cenatorius referred to dinner. The adjective form in English is cenatory, but the single instance given in the Oxford English Dictionary dates to 1650.


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, February 15, 2012

Four in One


I did a remote broadcast with Lew Gatch at WMKV-fm in Cincinnati this afternoon. A caller asked, “How many words can exist as four parts of speech—noun, verb, adjective and adverb?”

The word bank came to mind immediately.

  • The bank closes at 5:00 p.m. [n.]
  • You can bank on me. [v.]
  • The bank shot is very effective in basketball. [adj.]

But that was the end of the line. There is no bank as adverb. That’s true of perhaps hundreds of words, because most adverbs end in –ly, thus breaking the sequence.

I haven’t given this a lot of thought, but four words now come to mind: fast, last, right, and well.

NOUN

  • Fast is built into sports cars.
  • A shoemaker must have a last.
  • A right must be protected.
  • Timmy fell into the well.

VERB

  • Fast for twelve hours before the procedure.
  • Good furniture will last for centuries.
  • Please right that chair before someone trips over it.
  • When I’m sad, tears well up.

ADJECTIVE

  • Fast solutions don’t always work.
  • He was the last man standing.
  • Do the right thing.
  • That’s all well and good, but what about the cost?.

ADVERB

  • Run fast.
  • When I last looked, he was sleeping.
  • Stop right here.
  • She works well with others.


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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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Gossip


The same language myths seem to be recycled several times a year via email; I call them verbal vampires. Showing up in my mailbox for the umpteenth time is the definitive explanation for the word gossip.

A British earl/duke/lord/king/queen (depending on the version in front of you) was worried about public opinion. In a foreshadowing of Homeland Security, he or she instructed hordes of underlings to visit local pubs and listen to what patrons were saying. “Go sip a pint or two and report to me,” was the instruction. Of course, go sip transmuted into gossip over time. Of course it did.

The reality is strange enough. The original gossip (godsibb) was a baptismal sponsor, a godparent. It was based on God and Sibb, related to sibling. It appeared in print in 1014.

By 1390, it had broadened to include a close acquaintance or friend. It then narrowed (1600) to mean female friends who might be present as attendants when a woman was giving birth. The implication was that idle chatter would take the birthing mother’s mind off the pain. By the 19th century, it had settled into idle talk, social chatter, and rumors shared by men and women.

The word is flexible enough to be both positive and negative. A gossip-monger is an abomination, but a gossip column is a welcome read.


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

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

e.g. and i.e.


In my capacity as a Michigan Commissioner (Commission on Services to the Aging), I’ve been working with a committee reviewing the by-laws for the State Advisory Council on Aging, our research arm. When we got to the section on the technical requirements for membership, I discovered that the old version had failed to distinguish between the abbreviation e.g. (exempli gratia or for example) and the abbreviation i.e. (id est or that is).

Let me illustrate with two examples not drawn from the by-laws, which are of interest only to a very small audience.

  • (1) Massive November storms on the Great Lakes, e.g., Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, have resulted in hundreds of shipwrecks over the years.
  • (2) Massive November storms on the Great Lakes, i.e., Lakes Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior, have resulted in hundreds of shipwrecks over the years.

The abbreviation e.g. signifies that a limited number of examples are about to be inserted, a mere sample of a larger universe. Items are deliberately left out because of time, space, or interest constraints. Since example 1 gives only two of the five Great Lakes, e.g. is the correct abbreviation.

The abbreviation i.e. signifies that a point just mentioned is about to be clarified, specified, spelled out. The understanding is that nothing will be left out; the list will be complete. Example 2 names all five Great Lakes, so using i.e. is correct.

This also explains why the first example below is wrong.

  • (1) I love the Three Stooges, e.g., Larry, Curly, and Moe.
  • (2) I love the Three Stooges, i.e., Larry, Curly, and Moe.

The second example (using i.e.) is correct because all three Stooges are specified. No one is left out. Using e.g. would imply that more Stooges, yet unnamed, are waiting in the wings. Heaven forfend.


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, February 04, 2012

Horsing Around


Doug from Traverse City asked about two words, chivalry and cavort. I have to believe that he knew about their connection in advance and was simply testing me. That happens frequently during the show. Stump the Professor has become a popular game.

The connection between the two is the horse. Chivalry is a cognate of cavalry; it refers to horsemen. In the Middle Ages, it came to signify the code of conduct supposedly lived by knights. It was a blend of religious, social, and ethical elements.

Cavort originally meant to prance about like a horse. Applied to a human, it meant to frolic or to play around, generally in an aimless manner.

Another word connected to horse surprised me. It’s chagrin. Now it means disappointment resulting from being thwarted. Originally in English it was spelled shagreen, and it referred to the rough skin on the rump of a horse.


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, February 01, 2012

Vetting Candidates


Jim from Elk Rapids came across the phrase “vetting a candidate” and wondered about its origin. It could well be replaced by “background check.”

The vet at the core of the word and its variants is the veterinarian. Veterinarian came from a Latin word meaning pertaining to cattle (1791), but it quickly widened in scope to include other farm animals.

By 1891, it was a standard term in horse racing. To vet a horse was to have it examined by a veterinarian to determine if the animal was fit for racing. It’s no coincidence that we refer to the political process as the presidential race.

By 1898, it had been expanded to mean to examine or treat a human being medically. Six years later, it had morphed into a non-medical meaning: to examine a person carefully to determine if he or she is suitable to hold a sensitive position.


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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