It seems that when people break into new fields, they desire to quickly establish themselves as resident experts to their peers. Send two Americans to Japan and each will return an expert on the ritual preparation and service of sushi, arguing with each other about whether or not the wasabi is properly mixed in the … Continue reading Nuance and Semantics (Get It?)
As part of my ongoing campaign to learn new words and enhance my comprehension, indulge me as I take a moment to analyze a certain word I’ve seen several times in the last decade yet whose specific meaning has eluded me. “PhotoSketch picture software wins plaudits,” is the Telegraph.co.uk headline I read today, sparking a … Continue reading Definition: Plaudits
I don’t relish the false dichotomy set up around linguistics and language: in terms of Living Language, “yer eether fur us ‘r agin’.” Am I a prescriptivist? Sure. Does that mean I’m opposed to the formation of new words, the evolution of the language? Absolutely not. I think some vernacular trends—born of online-speak—are stupid and useless, … Continue reading Why Is It Wrong To Be Right?
Just to sort it out in my own head, I’ve got to write about the usage of prior versus previous. Prior comes from Latin for “ancient” and previous from “leading the way,” but both share roots with prae, “before.” I already know these words mean roughly the same thing: on Merriam-Webster Online, the phrases “prior … Continue reading Previously in Priority
It has come to my attention that there is some vaguity (my favorite made-up word) in discerning “preventive” from “preventative.” I’ve done some work toward clearing this up in my own mind, and I may as well post the results of my contemplation. Most online sources are completely useless in differentiating between the two. That … Continue reading That Which Prevents
I’m wondering what’s coded into our DNA that makes us value large and devalue small. It’s probably the drive to amass resources: more food is better than less food because it will sustain us for a longer period of time. If a little of something makes us happy, a lot of it should make us … Continue reading Such a Wretched Thing To Be Small
While they may not be much fun at parties (so has been impressed upon me), English majors are essential for clarity in expression and sense. Lesser beings struggle with farther versus further, college students with half a clue stay up late and challenge each other with infer versus imply, but for English majors these are elementary skirmishes. … Continue reading Word Choice
One of my favorite words to write about—so much so that it may soon become my standard—is swachele. No one knows what it means, and its meaning is lost. I don’t know how I found it: I was probably browsing the Oxford English Dictionary and saw it in a list. Here’s the sum and whole of … Continue reading Dead Word: Swachele