Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Deadline


Brad asked about the origin of deadline. Today it refers to a time limit, especially a time by which an article or a manuscript or a project of any kind has to be submitted for publication or completion.

The origin of the word is rather gruesome. It was developed by the military during the American Civil War. It was the line marked around a military prison. If a prisoner crossed that line in an attempt to escape, he would be shot dead.

The word dead doesn’t always mean deprived of life. Referring to food or drink, it can mean insipid and devoid of taste. It can also mean muffled in reference to sound, and dull in reference to color.

It also means utterly, profoundly, and completely. Think of dead stop, dead calm, dead asleep, dead tired, dead silence, dead broke, dead certain, dead wrong, and dead center.

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.





Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Habit


Cynthia asked about the varied meanings of the word habit. Ultimately, it came from a Latin verb that meant to have.

There was a bifurcation of the base word in ancient Latin. One branch focused on the external features of having and exhibiting: posture, demeanor, clothing, etc. The other branch focused on internal elements: character, mentality, disposition, etc.

In English, habit meant apparel in 1225. Later in that century, it came to be the word of choice for religious garb. By the 15th century, it had transferred to deportment. One’s mental and emotional components also came to the fore. By the next century, it meant a settled practice, a customary way of acting. In our day, it has come to mean an addiction. “Do you have a habit?” is a very serious question, but historically, it could be rendered as “do you have a have?”

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.




Monday, September 14, 2015

Flamboyant


Doug asked about the word flamboyant. Currently, it means exhibiting behavior that attracts attention because of exuberance that goes over the top. In my generation, Little Richard comes to mind.

Proximately, the word came from a French word meaning flame. Ultimately, it goes back to a Latin word meaning to burn. Originally, in English, it referred to a medieval French architectural style that featured wavy lines resembling flames. In later eras, the style was seen as florid and excessively ornate.

Lurking in the background is the burning question, why do flammable and inflammable mean the same thing?



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.





Saturday, September 05, 2015

Linked Vowels


Krale from Boyne City asked what to call the conjoined æ. It is called a ligature, linked vowels, or a digraph.

There is no single universal pronunciation. Brits spell the word encyclopaedia; Americans consider that to be archaic and spell it encyclopedia, with the ae pronounced as ee. A long ee sound also appears in paediatric/pediatric and in anaemia/anemia.

But in paedophile/pedophile, the ae sounds like eh. The same eh sound appears in aesthetic/esthetic.

The œ combination is also a ligature. It has a short sound (eh) in oesophagus/esophagus. But in oecology/ecology and in foetus/fetus, it has the long ee sound.



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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