Every week from the beginning of the year I have tried to shorten my posts, mark fewer words of interest. I fail. I can't help it. This exercise of reading the dang dictionary (which itself is a truncated, clipped version of the larger English language) has shown me how wondrously ignorant I am. It's nice to feel slightly less ignorant every week. But only very slightly. The frequency and variety of perennial herbs alone gets me every time.
To be a skank is not necessarily to be skanky. An important distinction. Also, a shout-out to the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computer, happening now—and totally sold out. See streaming of some sessions here.
One word that caught my attention this week was savant, "a man of profound learning." I protest that only men can be profoundly learned! Rudery! The same definition is also in the new Scrabble Dictionary, which is a little disappointing.
We're just beginning to hear the sarsar of Montreal again . . . and I'm admittedly not really looking forward to it. This week marks the 75% mark of the reading the Scrabble Dictionary!
More antelope and carriages! And a bunch of deadly things.
Short and sweet thanks to the many re- words this time. Humans do a lot of things, and then they do them again. Super profound, I know.
The quokka is WAY cuter than the quoll. I have opinions.
Short and sweet. Somebody get me a baby potto.
More about pogonip, or ice fog, because I found it interesting: it comes from Shoshone paγi̵nappi̵h, meaning, unsurprisingly, "cloud." American settlers in the early days called it the "white death," because they thought the ice crystals would kill them if it entered their lungs. Humidity has to be around 100% as the temperature drops below freezing for the ice crystals to form in the air and start to settle on things.
No, not really. I'm pleased that "gi" was finally added. But the new Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, Fifth Edition, does mean reading 5,000 extra words this year. Read more about it here (with all the attendant controversy!)
I've ordered my copy, but I'm waiting for someone—someone who is slightly more obsessed with words than I am—to go through and publish an online list of what those 5,000 new words are, because I'm sure as heck not starting over. Plan on a few additional posts at the end of the year.
It's true that at this point in the year I'm thinking longingly of all the extra time I'll have next year, but as soon as I start reading, time doesn't matter, and the words soak into me like hot, soothing water in a tub . . . everyone has additions. There are good addictions and bad addictions. And if I gotta choose, I choose logophilia. Bring it on, Fifth Edition!
Lots of various kinds of women's clothing this week (partlet, peignoir, pelerine, peplos), but most importantly, the discovery of pleonasm: the use of needless words. Such a word is not only indicative of much of what I am doing in reading and blogging about the Scrabble Dictionary, which contains many a needless word, but pleonasm is also a semantic paradox in itself—when was the last time you needed the word pleonasm?
(These kinds of self-referential words, by the way, are part of a fascinating subset of linguistics called autological terms. Click here for a partial list. My favorite is shibboleth, since knowing the word shibboleth is a cue to other people who know the word that you are cued in)
One could also argue that there is no such thing as a pleonasm since Scrabble ensures the need of all the vocabulary you can get (minus one-lettered words and words that go beyond the availability of tiles, I suppose).
Anyway. I also had fun with pangram on Twitter.
Just one image today, for pandanus: a tropical plant. My son is eating a pandanus key in the Marshall Islands (taken 2011). You either love pandanus or hate it. I hated it, and then I loved it. It is a remarkable, very time-consuming fruit. Islanders use it not only for its critical vitamins but also to floss.