Mark Twain once wrote: “This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.” Twain is referring to the first day of April or, as it has come to be known as, April Fool’s Day. While the first day of the fourth month of the year is certain to bring shenanigans and tomfoolery, what is not so certain is the origin of CONTINUE READING »
Transcribing the text of the Bible has been an ongoing and often controversial process ever since the Greeks translated ancient Hebrew manuscripts around the 3rd century BC. The revised New International Version (NIV) and The New American Bible, respectively, will include gender-neutral language and substitute words that the editors claim will reflect a modern understanding of the book’s theology. What are some of the words that will be changed in CONTINUE READING »
Great things can come out of hard times — take Scrabble. During the Great Depression, architect Alfred Mosher Butts couldn’t find work. So, he decided to create a board game that required the vocabulary skills of anagrams and crossword puzzles but also had an element of chance.
Butts hand-drew the original board with architectural drafting equipment. CONTINUE READING »
You can never predict the circumstances that rocket a word into the stratosphere of public awareness. This season’s “American Idol” has accomplished this feat for not one, but two complex illnesses: Tourette Syndrome (TS) and Asperger Syndrome (AS.)
One of the “Idol” constestants, James Durbin from Santa Cruz, California, has both of these disorders. As each week passes, Durbin is CONTINUE READING »
Turmoil in the Middle East; rise in demand: These are some of the reasons cited by airlines when they added a fuel surcharge, a flat fee applied across the board, to all airline tickets this week. While it is reasonable to expect transportation costs to rise when fuel is expensive, airlines have a history of keeping their rates high after market factors cease to impact prices. Our interest isn’t really in corporate behavior but the particular use of the word “surcharge” by the airlines. The media and consumer groups have focused on this equivocal language as a CONTINUE READING »
Whether you find the hype surrounding the alleged ‘extreme supermoon’ on March 19th superfluous or completely warranted, this celestial event brings with it some spectacular lunar activity and equally fun vocabulary.
While the names of many moon phases are rich in folklore, the supermoon became ”super” because of Richard Nolle – an astrologer with a flair for the dramatic. Nolle believes the upcoming full moon “lunar CONTINUE READING »
March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day, or Lá Fhéile Pádraig (Irish), named for one of the most recognized of the patron saints of Ireland, Saint Patrick, who died on this date around 493 A.D. While St. Patrick is famous for allegedly driving snakes out of Ireland, he is also responsible for the oldest known Gaelic composition in existence. This fact provides to explore the question of why Gaelic uses familiar letters in such unfamiliar ways.
Gaelic, pronounced: /ˈɡeɪlɪk/, is an adjective that means “pertaining CONTINUE READING »
March 15th marks a very inauspicious anniversary. Like a black cat crossing your path, the Ides of March has become a metaphor for impending doom. How did a day that was once celebrated by the Romans become so heavily cloaked in superstition?
The Ides of March is a phrase derived from the Latin idus, a term CONTINUE READING »
Today is 3/14, otherwise known as Pi Day – the holiday commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi). Since mathematic notation is a language that uses symbols from a multitude of alphabets and typefaces, it seems only fitting that this sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet get a little attention.
The Latin name of the Greek letter π is pi, pronounced: pie. The symbol CONTINUE READING »
You may not like it, but we all use them. Whether it is in a text message, an instant chat, or a casual email, emoticons appear in written communication to indicate the tone, humor or feeling of a message. As communication moves away from personal interaction to a text-only environment, emoticons fill the void left by the absence of the tone of voice and facial expression that add connotation and intent to a message. The word emoticon is a portmanteau of “emotion” and “icon.”
Emoticons clearly are instruments of communication, but what are they, exactly? Are they CONTINUE READING »