A Kindleworm by any other name (and exciting news for OED lovers)

[EDIT: Sadly, http://www.oed.com no longer works, and even the link to it from Oxford Dictionaries Online is broken. Sincerest apologies on my behalf for getting us all excited, and for not realising sooner.]

The straw that finally broke my anti-Kindle camel’s back was the fact that Kindle comes loaded with the full Oxford English Dictionary [ALSO EDIT: I meant (and still mean) the Oxford Dictionary OF English. I unforgivably use OED as a generic term, though I know there are some who would drop a thesaurus on my head for such an offence.], thus overcoming the two main obstacles previously prohibiting my access to said lexicographical bible: price, and bulk. (My only other accessway was online, through the student login left over from my university days. Not coincidentally, that student login is my favourite souvenir as an alumnus).

Anyway, I bought a Kindle as soon as I realised this (while playing Scrabble in a Kindle-owning friend’s dictionary-less house). And thereafter, when asked whether Kindle “is good?”, my most likely answer has been “IT HAS THE *WHOLE* OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY *IN* IT. YES is good.”

Now this doesn’t mean I no longer love “real” books. I do. Very much.

I have an inconveniently large number of books in my new home. (At least, relocating them from my old home – and chromatically arranging them again – was inconvenient.)

I also have one of these…

…on my desk at work.

Yes, it’s a giant fuzzy bookworm, otherwise known as helluo librorum.

WAIT A MINUTE.

Helluo librorum.

The OED is online!

Free!

Searchable!

No subscription (or university alumnus login) required!


And @OxfordWords tweets the Word Of The Day!

Now this doesn’t mean I no longer love Kindle…

.

40 literary terms you should know (and 4 reasons why)


40 literary terms you should know

Why should you read and/or bookmark this list?

1) It is interesting and informative. If you don’t know the meaning of bildungsroman or hamartia, you need to read this.

2) I found it via Elmo Keep. Once upon a time, Elmo taught me all about teh interwebz at university, and I probably didn’t do all the recommended readings for that course, so we can (collectively, retrospectively) make up for it now by reading something recommended by her.

3) The self-referential humour in entry #30 is quite self-referentially humorous.

4) Entry #40 is one of my favourite words: verisimilitude.


Go forth and learn!

Stochastic? SO Random.

Members of Generation Y [for Youngling, surely] are often accused of overusing the word “random”, especially in response to matters that are not at all random. For example:

First youngling: “I thought I lost my keys, then I realised they were in my pocket the whole time!”

Second youngling: “Ooo, random!”

I’ll admit I’m a serial offender, out of sheer laziness rather than deep-seated vapidity (I hope).

Anyway, would we suffer less scorn by using the word “stochastic” instead?

First youngling: “I couldn’t find my favourite red pen, then I realised it was in my hair the whole time!”

Second youngling: “Ooo, stochastic!”

 

… Or would we just be scorned as pretentious AND dim?

 

Of links and linkages

I have looked in the dictionary (both Macquarie* AND Oxford**) and I still don’t know why anyone would use the word linkage as a noun when plain old link will almost always suffice. Unless they are using it as a technical term in the field of genetics. Which they seldom ever are.

 

*Preferred in Australia.

**Preferred everywhere else in the known universe.

Lost in Translation: The USA/Canada > “Australian” edition


This year, the closest I’ve been to snow (my love) is two weeks lounging around with the air conditioning turned down cold, watching The Winterlympics*… and the wearing of snowflake-shaped earrings.

But this time last year, I had just returned from a North American winter: a month stomping/skiing around Salt Lake City (Utah, USA) and Banff (Alberta, Canada) wearing three layers of everything, watching icicles form on my hair, and laughing at the peculiar linguistic variations between Australian English, Canadian English, and American English.

 

( The image quality is terrible, but this sign was outside the house we lived in for two weeks just outside Salt Lake City. It reads “No Solicitors or Deliverie’s”. I shrieked at this abomination every day.).

The following is the blog entry that I drafted upon my return, but quickly found was no longer relevant. UNTIL NOW.


Eh?

Eh? (Canada)

Innit? (UK)

N’est-ce pas? (French)

Huh? (Youth)

Whut? (Web)


For sure!

For sure! (Canada)

No worries! (Aus)

Of course! (Everywhere else)

Yup! (Youth)


Goobers

Chocolate-coated peanuts. I can’t believe I never knew this. I mean, I’ve watched American TV my entire life, AND I love chocolate-coated peanuts. But here, a ‘goober’ is, well, snot.

{ image via The Chocolate Cult }

 

 

Grāpple®

Grape-flavoured apple. “Looks like an apple, tastes like a grape”. SO WRONG, and yet so right.

Apparently invented because kids ought to eat apples, but prefer the taste of grapes. Or grape-flavoured candy in this case.

Which is ridiculous.

When I was a child, we didn’t get to make orange-flavoured bananas, just because we liked oranges better. Know what we did if we liked oranges? WE ATE ORANGES!

Anyway, the grāppling process involves some difficult-to-pin-down method of drenching the apples in grape flavouring at some point in the ‘production’ process.

And apparently, the “ā” means that it’s pronounced GRAPE-L, not “grapple” (as in to manhandle/tussle). Know what? That didn’t stop me from saying “grapple”. Nor was I sufficiently perturbed by the outright absurdity of the whole idea to just put down the Grāpple and walk away. I should have been, but I couldn’t resist. Why? Because I like apples (okay, just the way they are), and I also like grape-flavoured candy. {image via Coolest Gadgets }


Loonies & Twonies/Toonies

 

Canadian one dollar and two dollar coin (not children’s cartoon characters). No point talking about “one dollar coin” and “two dollar coin” in Canada: no-one will know what you’re talking about.

The one-dollar “loonie” is so called because it bears the image of a loonie bird. The two dollar coin is worth two loonies, and so, by logical extrapolation, is called a “twonie” (pronounced toonie).

But of course!

{image via Filibuster Cartoons }


Nonpareils


Sprinkles. Hundreds-and-thousands. What makes a
chocolate freckle freckly.

The fact that they’re “nonpareils” in Canada is obviously a remnant of French colonial (candy) domination.

I still don’t understand what being unequalled has to do with it (and I think Wikipedia’s explanation that they were unrivalled as cake decorations is a pretty poor effort on the etymology front).

{ Image via Flickriver }


Poutine

 

French fries covered with gravy and cheese curds.

Words can’t express how truly repulsive this looks/is, so I’ll hand over to Google Images.


{via the Calgary Poutine Crawl 2013 }

*barf*

And I’ll also leave it to Wikipedia to explain that etymologically, Poutine has a closer relation to “pudding” (ie: a whole lot of everything) than it does to the French expletive (though given Canada’s semi-Francophilia, the latter would also make some sense). Traditional pub grub, ski-field fuel, late-night booze food, school’s-out snack, etc. Like kebabs in Australia, only… more disgusting.


Puck Bunnies

Like groupies, but for ice hockey players instead of rock band members. [On Monday morning, I nearly FELL OFF MY CHAIR with excitement during the gold medal ice hockey match. And by chair, I mean perfectly stable and impossible-to-fall-off sofa. THAT IS HOW EXCITED I WAS. In the absence of ice hockey within a tangible geographic radius, this makes me a vicarious puck bunny (minus all the negative innuendo).]
{ image via Linda Mac }


Rumble strips

What my sister and I grew up calling “fart lines”. The noisy, corrugated part of the road that stops sleepy drivers from veering into oncoming traffic/into a snow drift when the road markings are invisible and/or one has been driving forever and ever and ever.

{ image via Local 4 Traffic }


Tuque

Beanie (Aus)

Knitted cap (UK)

 

 

A tuque is, for Aussies, a beanie. A brimless, knitted head covering. And yes, it shares a common etymological ancestor with the chef’s toque, though one might get a bit warm wearing a tuque in the kitchen.

Controversially pronounced “toock” [ike the "two" in "twonie" (see above). The pronunciation is only controversial because one can get 5 different opinions in 5 minutes, if you ask around].

{ in the above image of Jay and Silent Bob, Jay is wearing a tuque. Silent Bob is not. }


Turbinado Sugar

The word ‘turbinado’ is, in my mind, a portmanteau of turbine and tornado.

Cyclonic sugar? To me, this is the way sugar ‘normally’ comes. That is, in Australia, “raw sugar” is the norm, and you’d have to do actual research to find out much about the manufacturing process. But in the US and Canada, white sugar is “normal”, and so it’s deemed necessary to explain turbinado sugar in explicit detail, right there on the packet.

Turbinado sugar, also known as turbinated sugar, is made from sugar cane extract. It is produced by crushing freshly cut sugar cane; the juice obtained is evaporated by heat, then crystallized. The crystals are spun in a centrifuge, or turbine (thus the name), to remove excess moisture and molasses, resulting in the characteristic large, light brown crystals

Yes, if you check the footnotes in the above-quoted Wikipedia article, that description can be found on the packaging for Trader Joe’s Turbinado Sugar. Which is rather incongruous with the vast amount of packaged ‘food’ one can buy in North America without knowing exactly what’s going on inside the packaging.

And in true toonie… er, twonie spirit, that’s all, folks! At least until the next snowventure (which is so far in the hypothetical future I think I’d be better off just wearing my ski boots into the frozen foods aisle at the supermarket).


* My nominations for the greatest <alt=”most insane”> Olympic sports? Skeleton, Ski Cross, and Ice Hockey.

Wallflower Words: Koan (n.)

Wallflower Words is a series of Proof (v.) posts dedicated to beautiful but under-appreciated and seldom-encountered words. Those that are never invited to dance at the parlance party; those that deserve more exposure than is currently afforded by contemporary trends in popular English. This is their turn on the dancefloor.

The Word: Koan (n.)

Huh? In Zen Buddhist theory and study, a koan is a paradox proposed for the purpose of confounding the mind into an unthinking stupor, whereupon the stupefied mind becomes so stupefied as to enter a whole new level of conscious, awakened thought.

As in?


{ via Yahoo Answers }


And? Well, at 3.28 on a Tuesday afternoon we could all do with more mental stimulation, lest we be trapped forever in The Long, Dark Tea-Time of The Soul.

We might also like to remember that there is a moral to every story.

We might ALSO like to remember that animated introspective thought might never produce a finite answer.

And I need a name for that process of suddenly realising the answer to 14-down in the cryptic crossword a full 5 hours after I began puzzling over the clue.

See also:

Wallflower Words: Liminal (adj.)
Wallflower Words: Saturnine (a./ n.)
Wallflower Words: Quantise (v.)
Wallflower Words: Vitriol (n.)

Wallflower Words: Saturnine (a./n.)

Wallflower Words is a series of Proof (v.) posts dedicated to beautiful but under-appreciated and seldom-encountered words. Those that are never invited to dance at the parlance party; those that deserve more exposure than is currently afforded by contemporary trends in popular English. This is their turn on the dancefloor.

The Word: Saturnine (a./n.)

Huh? Influenced by Saturn. Contaminated with lead [the effect of lead poisoning may also known as Saturnia] and therefore leaden. Hence the quality of having a heavy, slow, dull, sullen and depressed demeanour.

As in? January Astrology.  Saturn takes 29.5 YEARS to orbit the sun, as opposed to our 365 DAYS. Saturn is the ruling planet of Capricorn (implying that we January babies are goatishly stubborn).

“Astrologically, Saturn is associated with the principles of limitation, restrictions, boundaries, practicality and reality, crystallizing and structures… Saturn is also considered to represent the part of a person concerned with long-term planning… According to the first-century poet Manilius, Saturn is sad, morose, and cold and is the greater malefic… Saturn symbolized processes and things which were dry and extremely cold, and, therefore, inimical to life. It governed the melancholic humor… Saturn being the planet of mortality, and hence, why the Grim Reaper carries a scythe).”

Wikipedia

Also: In bodily (sort of) form, Saturnine is The Guardian of the Road of Lost Souls in the Marvel Universe (which exists within THIS universe of course, but which anyone who has had more than a cursory glance can tell you, occupies a practically endless interlinking Wikipedia Universe of its own). Very morose; very Grim Reaper; very apt.

And? Planetary adjectives are all the rage. Happy people are commonly described as jovial, and mad ones as lunatic. The changeable are mercurial; and anything alien is either martian or at the very least, unearthly. So I say that ‘saturnine’, dark and sluggish beast that it is, deserves a better linguistic workout.

See also: Wallflower Words: Liminal (adj.)

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The Language of Deep Space

Wallflower Words: Liminal (adj.)

Wallflower Words is a series of Proof (v.) posts dedicated to beautiful but under-appreciated and seldom-encountered words. Those that are never invited to dance at the parlance party; those that deserve more exposure than is currently afforded by contemporary trends in popular English. This is their turn on the dancefloor.

The Word: Liminal (adj.)


Huh? Of or pertaining to a ‘limen’ or threshold.

As in? The ‘rich as plumcake’ Wood Between The Worlds, that magical in-between place in The Magician’s Nephew (in CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, of course).

“The Wood Between The Worlds shares some traits with other liminal spaces, way stations and thresholds, like the bardo of Tibetan Buddhism, or the door-lined hallway that Alice tries so hard to get out of in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But unlike other “between” places in myth and fiction, the Wood is both empty and full. It is a unitary movement, containing everything, the pause before a story is told, in which nothing has happened, and so anything might… On a less abstract level, the Wood is also a library. For someone like Lewis, who lived so much through his reading, each book was potentially a portal to another world.”

– Laura Miller, The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia (which I have finally finished reading, and feel thoroughly nourished by).


{ via The Crystalline Entity }

And?Subliminal‘  — being “below the threshold of conscious perception”— is a relatively common word. As is (though to a somewhat lesser extent) ‘superliminal‘ — being above said threshold, or faster than the speed of light.  But somehow the root ‘liminal’ has fallen out of common parlance. How terribly unreasonable.

[NB. This reminds me of that most existential of questions in 10 Things I Hate About You: "Q: I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be... whelmed?" "A: I think you can in Europe?"... Except that 'liminal' is an actual word, whereas 'whelmed' is, well, not really, unless you're talking in the nautical sense.]

The multifarious meanings of ‘Momental’


Today’s email inbox Oxford English Dictionary Word Of The Day is…

Momental

momental

As far as ‘knowing thyself’ goes, momental is a fickle creature, caught seven ways between obscurity, rarity, statistics, maths, and philosophy. Behold:

1. Lasting only a moment; momentary.

2. Of or relating to momentum.

3. Of or relating to moments of time.

4. Of or relating to a moment or element, especially of a conceptual entity.

5. Of or relating to a moment of inertia. [see #2, smirk at the complete contradiction]

6. Of or relating to the moments of a random variable.

7. Momentous; of value or importance.

Now I know it’s been a while between OED Word Of The Day musings, but momental is so unexpectedly interesting that I couldn’t help but share. For though it is an unassuming word, its multifarious (and muddled) definitions give it that je ne sais quois that some like to call randominity.

Randominity is a specialised neologism, not entirely unlike The Dirk Gently Navigation Method:

“My own strategy is to find a car, or the nearest equivalent, which looks as if it knows where it is going and follow it. I rarely end up where I was intending to go, but often I end up somewhere that I needed to be. So what do you say to that?”

“Piffle.”

“A robust response. I salute you.”

{ Yes cheers, [Saint] Douglas Adams ( The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul) }

Now, momental clearly doesn’t know what it wants to mean. But all its various definitions are so nice in their own way that it hardly matters which one you intended to express in the first place (Ephemeral? Moving? Inert? Random?). Odds are you’ll be saying something of value or importance. Momental even.

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