24 October 2009

I like words

as some of you may have noticed, i like words. i'm kind of a linguisitcs fan-girl. i get an awesome email every day called "A Word A Day" which, as you may have guessed is a new word every day, with definitions, etemology, pronunciation and examples. there is also a 'thought for the day' at the end of every email. today's was "A man who uses a great many words to express his meaning is like a bad marksman who, instead of aiming a single stone at an object, takes up a handful and throws at it in hopes he may hit. -Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)." i highly recommend the email, because it's just fun to read. every week, there's also a digest of responses to each word. this one made me giggle a little:
Subject: mendicant
Def: A beggar.
Mendicant is one of my favorite words. When I was a boy, my father would meticulously record expenses. One day, looking at his notes, I saw "gift to mendicant" and asked what that meant. He explained and I remember thinking how nice it was that he had given money to someone in need. Only later did I learn that "gift to mendicant" was his code phrase for my allowance!

and i found this one very interesting:
Subject: gimcrack
Def: Something cheap and showy, of little use.
The old song De Blue Tail Fly comes to mind. There has been much debate over the meaning of "Jimmy Crack Corn". To note, in the original version the lyrics read "Jim crack corn". "Jim crack" has traditionally been used in reference to shoddily built items. Additionally, "corn" is considered an American euphemism for "corn whiskey". Other possibilities include:"Gimcrack corn" cheap corn whiskey; That it refers to "cracking" open a jug of corn whiskey;

anywho, words: i like them