Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fach


 My wife and I have been attending the Saturday Live from the Met series at the State Theater in Traverse City, Michigan. One of the intermission features is an interview with the cast.

During the course of his interview last weekend, Eric Owens, who played the Water Gnome in Dvorak’s Rusalka, said something like this: “I once auditioned for a role even though it was barely in my fa.” Neither of us had heard the term before.

It turns out that it’s spelled fach, and it’s a German word meaning classification, specialty, or category. In the 19th century, to make auditions and casting more efficient, German opera houses created a system of distinct voice categories, called the Fach System.

Each singer was assigned to a category (traditionally, there are 25 of them), and each role in every opera was tagged with a category. It prevented the frustration of auditioning for a role not in your voice range, and it gave the casting director access to precisely the voice ranges that he or she needed.

For the uninitiated, here is an understandable explanation of the Fach System:     https://www.ipasource.com/the-fach-system


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, February 18, 2017

Assure, Ensure, Insure


Nicole from Traverse City asked about the difference between insure and ensure. Then, later that week, at a meeting of the Michigan Commission on Services to the Aging, the same question came up, this time with assure added to the mix.

Approximately 700 years ago, insure and ensure were synonyms, but in the 1600s, insure took on a commercial meaning that it has retained to our day. It refers to paying for a policy that protects against loss or damage by providing financial compensation. So we insure our car, our house, and other valuable possessions.

To ensure is to guarantee something. It is the act of making something happen or of making a situation safe. A letter of recommendation from a famous public figure will ensure that a job seeker will at least get an interview. A stoplight at an intersection ensures that drivers will have a cue when to proceed safely.

To assure is to speak positive, encouraging words to someone in order to boost confidence or trust. During a violent thunderstorm, we assure young children that everything will be OK. I assure my client that I will represent her in court to the best of my ability. Sometimes assure bleeds over into ensure territory: we do the math carefully to assure accuracy.


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.




Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Mantle


The word mantle and its many meanings came up on the program recently. It originated with the Latin word mantellum, a cloak. One way or another, the divergent meanings of mantle all include the idea of something that encloses or protects. Here’s a rundown of the meanings that are not obsolete.

·      a protective garment or blanket
·      a guise or pretense
·      a position of authority or leadership
·      in crustaceans, a layer of covering epidermal tissue
·      in birds, the plumage of the back and the folded wings
·      in mammals, the layer of striated muscle below the skin
·      the scum formed on fermenting liquids
·      the bloom of algae that forms on stagnant ponds
·      the mesh covering used to contain a flame in a propane lantern
·      the region of the earth’s interior between the crust and the core

Mantel, the piece of timber or stone supporting the masonry above a fireplace, now has a different spelling, but originally it was spelled mantle and came from the same Latin word that meant a cloak.

Finally, dismantle – to take something apart – started out meaning to strip a cloak right off a man’s back.


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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