Word Hoard

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Oblivion and Epenthesis

Oblivion: 1 the state of forgetting or having forgotten or of being unaware or unconscious 2 the condition or state of being forgotten or unknown

"Oblivion" derived via Middle English and Anglo-French from the Latin "oblivisci," which means "to forget." This form may have stemmed from combining "ob-" ("in the way") and "levis" ("smooth"). In the past, "oblivion" has been used in reference to the River Lethe, which according to Greek myth flowed through the Underworld and induced a state of forgetfulness in anyone who drank its water. Among those who have used the word this way is the poet John Milton, who wrote in Paradise Lost, "Farr off from these a slow and silent stream, Lethe the River of Oblivion roules Her watrie Labyrinth."

This is all according to my Merriam-Webster (I first typed Miriam.) word of the day. I really like the quote and the nonstandard spelling. Could you call it a nonstandard orthography, since orthography is literally "correct writing"?

Another from our friend Miriam Webster:
Epenthesis: the insertion or development of a sound or letter in the body of a word

If you say "athlete" as "ath-a-lete," you've committed epenthesis. Some people consider the pronunciation to be unacceptable, but there's a perfectly good reason why it occurs; epenthesis is simply a natural way to break up an awkward cluster of consonants. It's easier for some people to say "athlete" as three syllables instead of two, just as it's easier for some to insert a "b" sound into "cummerbund," pronouncing that word as "cum-ber-bund." Epenthesis has even contributed to the evolution of recognized spelling variants, giving us such options as "cumberbund" and "sherbert" (for "sherbet"). The word "epenthesis" came to us by way of Late Latin from the Greek verb "epentithenai," which means "to insert a letter

Is orthophony "correct speaking"? I guess it is.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Start of a Beautiful Relationship

Welcome to my word hoard. Won't you come on in?

These are words I kept from my five or six word-a-day emails. I've sent them on to my gmail account and have quite a few now. I've intended, ever since I started my other blog, to put a lot of these there, but this will be less intrusive to the logophobe.

These words were selected for many different reasons. Often I just like the sound or utility of the word. Other times I find the etymology revealing. I'm partial to short Old English words. Breton, Provencal, Basque, and Welsh are tough to turn away too. I'm also a sucker for words about words (paronomasia anyone?). So I hope you enjoy these as much as I have and continue to. I'm always open to new words or ways of looking at them too, so help me help someone else.

Here are some to start:

heretic: one who holds unorthodox or unconventional beliefs, adj. not conforming to traditional beliefs

etym. [From Middle English heretik, from Middle French heretique, from Late Latin haereticus, from Greek hairetikos (able to choose), from haireisthai (to choose).]

I find it interesting that choice is the root of religious blasphemy, but really, choice is what did in the human race. Maybe freedom is good, but choice is bad? Choice itself isn't bad, neither is heretic, just because one holds unconventional beliefs doesn't mean they are bad.

metonymy: a figure of speech consisting of the use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute or with which it is associated

Examples include ears in the phrase "Lend me your ears.", crown for the King, and the White House for the US presidential administration.

I don't know the difference between synecdoche and metonymy. If someone out there does, help me help others.

Any good examples of metonymy and words that get a bad wrap [or is it rap like "rap sheet" or is it "wrap sheet"? (a quick google search revealed 1.92 mil more results for rap. I just now realized it is short for rapport. Spectacular.)], like heretic, are welcome too.

A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers. -Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi