Saturday, April 28, 2012

Phatic


Eleanor came across the term phatic communication and asked for some explanation.

Communication may serve various purposes — intellectual, emotional, or social, for instance. Factual communication may be shallow at times, but it is meant to provide information. Evaluative communication is usually deeper; it conveys judgment or thoughtful opinion that goes beyond merely discussing the weather. Intimate communication involves the exchange of emotions.

Phatic communication is social in purpose. It is meant as an icebreaker, a way to establish social rapport. It is small talk and often employs clichés (How ya doin’?) but it is essential in interpersonal relationships. 

The term was established by cultural anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski in 1923 ["The problem of meaning in primitive languages"in Ogden, C. & Richards, I., The Meaning of Meaning, Routledge, London.] He formed it from a Greek word meaning spoken.

As Malinowski explained it, “There can be no doubt that we have here a new type of linguistic use—phatic communion I am tempted to call it ‥.a type of speech in which ties of union are created by a mere exchange of words.”


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.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Loud Report



The word report, meaning the resounding noise of gunfire, came up on the show last Tuesday. This meaning had developed by 1590. About a century prior to that, it was used to describe musical sounds, especially repeated notes.

Prior to that, report variously meant

  • conveyed information
  • a legislative committee evaluation of a proposed bill
  • an evaluation issued by investigators
  • a teacher’s assessment of a student’s work
  • a written account of a course case
  • a speaker’s account released for publication
  • gossip or hearsay, and
  • one’s reputation.

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.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Plangent




Rita passed along a word that she encountered in a book that she is reading. The word is plangent.

It’s an adjective meaning loud, reverberating, and resonant. Since it was associated with the traditional breast beating that accompanied extreme grief in the Mideast and the Mediterranean regions, it also came to mean mournful and plaintive.

Lamentation, wailing, and ululation were part of the mourning demonstration. Allied words were collugency (mourning together), conclamate (to loudly mourn the dead), myrology (an extemporaneous funeral song), quain (to bewail or lament), and threne (a funeral dirge.


SIDEBAR:  Dies Irae



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




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.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Elbow Grease


Someone who chose not to go on air and not to be identified left a question with our producer yesterday. The question was the meaning and origin of elbow grease.

Originally, it meant vigorous rubbing that works up a sweat. It shows up in old proverbs speaking of polishing furniture. As important as the polishing agent might be, throwing muscle pressure into the job was just as important.

And, in fact, the image seems to have started in the 17th century as an attempt at humor in furniture-making shops. A British tradition was for professionals to play tricks on their apprentices. In this case, the newbie would be told that the shop was out of elbow grease, and he would be sent out to buy some.

Eventually, elbow grease was extended to energetic efforts of any kind. Here’s a 1672 quote from Andrew Marvell cited in the Oxford English Dictionary: Two or three brawny Fellows in a Corner, with meer Ink and Elbow-grease, do more Harm than an Hundred systematical Divines with their sweaty Preaching.”

SIDEBAR: an interview with Michael Sheehan

NOTE: If you live in the Grand Traverse region and are over 50, get a team of 3 together for this year's Senior Spelling Bee. Practice rounds at TADL Wed. April 25 & Thurs. April 26 at noon. Main event Friday, May 4th, 1 p.m., at the Gilbert Lodge on Twin Lakes. Call the TC Senior Center for details at 231-922-4911.


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.



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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sooth Be Told


Melanie asked what the sooth in soothsayer means. It’s a very old word, tracing its origin to similar words in Old Saxon and Old Norse; it means truth. It is sometimes used as a parenthetical insert ironically imitating obsolete language: Forsooth, dude, that was hot!

Literally, a soothsayer is someone who tells the truth, but not in the ordinary way. A soothsayer allegedly has the power to foretell future events by using divination. The arrangement or appearance of objects is interpreted by the soothsayer. Some mighty strange means have been employed through the centuries, as the following select –mancy words indicate.

  • belly noises: gastromancy
  • bubbles rising in a fountain: pegomancy
  • cloud formations: chaomancy
  • feces: scatomancy
  • forehead wrinkles: metopomancy
  • melting wax dropped in water: ceromancy
  • mice movements: myomancy
  • neck wrinkles: collimancy
  • neighing horses: hippomancy
  • rooster choosing grains of corn: alectoromancy
  • tongue color or features: hyomancy

SIDEBAR: an interview with Michael Sheehan

NOTE: If you live in the GT region and are over 50, get a team of 3 together for this year's Senior Spelling Bee. Practice rounds at TADL Wed. April 25 & Thurs. April 26 at noon. Main event Friday, May 4th, 1 p.m., at the Gilbert Lodge on Twin Lakes. Call the TC Senior Center for details at 231-922-4911.


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.


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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hoplology


Roger from Asheville writes, “A good friend of mine has been collecting swords and small armor for years, and now that he’s retired, he’s started attending gun shows as a seller. He had business cards printed up that say he’s a hoplologist. Is this something he made up? He’s always had a quirky sense of humor.”

I’ll take your word about his sense of humor, but this is no joke. Your friend has an impressive vocabulary. Hoplology is the scientific study of weapons and armor, and a hoplologist is someone who pursues that study.

The base is the Greek word hoplon (πλον), defined as a weapon or piece of armor. There is also a connection to a word meaning a hoof, the hoof being a type of protection for a foot.

In extended use, the word part –hoplo- is used to mean protected, and is frequently employed in Zoology.


SIDEBAR: an interview with Michael Sheehan


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.


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Monday, April 09, 2012

Interview

Author Debbie Diesen features a Michigan author every Monday on her blog, Jumping The Candlestick. She was kind enough to include me today. Read it at

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Teichoscopy


As part of his Classical Studies program, Karl is reading Homer’s Iliad. In studying commentaries about the work, he mentioned that he keeps bumping up against the term teichoscopy.

The two roots contained in the word teichoscopy may be translated as “viewing from the wall.” The word and the action are found in the Iliad’s Book 3, lines 121 to 244. Helen sits beside Priam on the wall tower, and as he asks her to identify each warrior in the distance, she names them one by one and characterizes them.

This is a dramatic device. The actors in ancient Greek dramas could sit on the stage in full view of the audience and pretend to describe distant events happening simultaneously, but out of sight of the audience. It added immediacy and dramatic impact, a distant precursor to the long-defunct TV show, You Are There.

You can see how economical this is when battles are involved. Instead of a cast of thousands clashing and bleeding on a tiny stage, one or two people can narrate what they are allegedly seeing, and evoke the spectacle by engaging the audience’s imagination.


For instance, in Julius Caesar, Pindarus ascends a hill and tells Cassius what he sees:

Titinius is enclosed round about

With horsemen, that make to him on the spur;

Yet he spurs on. Now they are almost on him.

Now, Titinius! Now some light. O, he lights too.

He's ta'en.

[Shout]
And, hark! they shout for joy.


An alternative device is to have a breathless messenger appear after the action is over, and listen while he narrates what happened a short time ago. Information is quickly disseminated, but it lacks immediacy and is somewhat passive. Shakespeare used the device in Julius Caesar when Brutus’ man Strato reports on his death to Octavius.

The conquerors can but make a fire of him;

For Brutus only overcame himself,

And no man else hath honour by his death.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I held the sword, and he did run on it.


The device is used in Shakespeare again when a messenger reports to Macbeth in Dunsinane Castle:

Gracious my lord,

I should report that which I say I saw,

But know not how to do it.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

As I did stand my watch upon the hill,

I look'd toward Birnam, and anon, methought,

The wood began to move.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Let me endure your wrath, if't be not so:

Within this three mile may you see it coming;

I say, a moving grove.


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.


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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Pangs



Noreen came across the phrase hunger pangs, and wondered what the word pang means and where it came from.

Pang is a variant of pain; if you have hunger pangs, the hunger is so acute that you feel distress. Originally, it referred to a shooting pain, especially the kind associated with childbirth. By the 16th century, the meaning had broadened to include mental anguish or emotional pain.

The origin of the word is a bit mysterious. The OED says that perhaps it came from prong, urgent distress or anguish. That form may have come from German/Dutch cognates that referred to distress, hardship, or torture. In turn, prong was related to an instrument with pointed tines. A pitchfork would be a good example.


SIDEBAR: If you live in the GT region and are over 50, get a team of 3 together for this year's Senior Spelling Bee. Practice rounds at TADL Wed. April 25 & Thurs. April 26 at noon. Main event Friday, May 4th, 1 p.m., at the Gilbert Lodge on Twin Lakes. Call the TC Senior Center for details at 231-922-4911.


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.


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Dona Sheehan's prints