Friday, November 9, 2007

Seeing Duubble

You can spend a lot of time at this site if you're not careful. Jeff Miller has lots and lots of pages, exploring such word oddities as words featuring double letters (vaccuum,continuum), and, my favorite, names that became words.

Many of the more unusual words--from an English speaker's perspective--come from Arabic or Persian.

This naming may not always be the honor it would seem. I mean, having a figure-skating move named for you is pretty cool (Axel Paulsen); getting a radiation-detection device in your name would be okay (Hans Geiger.) But how about the family of plantation owner Thomas Lynch? That's pretty awful though perhaps it's deserved. Or how about being identified as a Quisling (Vidkun Abraham Quisling)? No question about where that came from.

And no, I don't know why Norwegians are coming up so often this week.

I know personally only one person who has something named for him (not including kids!) In one newsroom, the little graf of information about holiday closings is known as the Lou box, for a long-departed editor named Lou who, legend has it, tried to go to a bank in pre-ATM days and discovered he couldn't because the banks were closed for a holiday. He was unhappy to learn this, felt others were as surprised as he was and, voila, a tradition was born. Or, as the saying went, it's all news to Lou.

Other delights from the site:
ESQUIVALIENCE, defined as "n. the willful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities," is a fabricated word inserted into the 2001 first edition of the New Oxford American Dictionary to protect the copyright of the electronic edition. Erin McKean, the editor-in-chief of the second edition of the dictionary, said, "The editors figured, We’re all working really hard, so let’s put in a word that means ‘working really hard.’ Nothing materialized, so they thought, Let’s do the opposite." An editor named Christine Lindberg came up with the word.

No comments:

Lijit Ad Tag