Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Wednesday Words ~ sobriquet and multivalent

"Euphemisms and nicknames ... resolve, in almost every case, to cliché."  I love words.  This morning, the first article I read was about words:  "I Can't Stand These Words Anymore" by David L. Ulin in The Atlantic.  The words illustrated above are among the ones he can't stand.  And here are a couple of excellent words I found for us to think about, using quotes from Ulin's article.  He began this way:
"Recently, I noticed a headline in The New York Times that featured the word tasked.  This is among my least favorite rhetorical strategies — the verbing of the noun.  Contemporary American English is rife with such constructions:  to journal, to parent, to impact, to effect.  I wince a little every time I come across one."
Let's think about a couple of the words I noticed in his article.

sobriquet / sow·bruh·kei / noun = descriptive name or epithet.  Synonyms:  alias, byname, cognomen, epithet, handle, moniker, nickname, surname.  Example:  "... the sobriquets attached to the city where I live, Los Angeles.  La La Land, Tinseltown, Lotus-land, El Lay."

multivalent / mul·ti·vā·lent /ˌməltēˈvālənt,ˌməlˌtīˈvālənt / adjective = having or susceptible of many applications, interpretations, meanings, or values.  Example:  "Language has limits, but it is rich and multivalent nevertheless, which is to say that it has power."

Now go read those words in context.  That's the best way to learn new words.  By the way, "SRIBE" in the words at the top is a deliberate typo for "scribe" in an illustration.  You can see the words as a GIF being corrected when you take a look at Ulin's article.  Okay, one more definition, of the word I used here, a word that is not in the article:
GIF is an acronym for "Graphics Interchange Format."  It's a short, animated picture, without sound.  GIFs are often used as memes, to portray an emotion or a reaction.  How is the word pronounced?  The inventor of the GIF format, Steve Wilhite of CompuServe, prefers "Jif" for a very strange reason.  This article explains why the word should be pronounced "GIF" like the word "GIFT" without the "T."  Enjoy this GIF of Newton's cradle.
By the way, today is the penultimate day of a difficult year, as Jan Edmiston wrote on her blog.  Do I need to define "penultimate" for us?
pe·nul·ti·mate / pəˈnəltəmət / adjective = last but one in a series of things; second last.  Example:  "Today is the penultimate day of a difficult year."

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