March 2010 Archives


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Recently saw a spam subject line that I thought said "Succeed in a truth economy." Which brought all sorts of interesting science fictional ideas to mind.

Until I saw that it actually said "Succeed in a tough economy."

Oh, well.


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Sometime around the beginning of March, I came across the word theophory, which Wikipedia says is "the practice of embedding the name of a god or a deity in, usually, a proper name."

For example, Wikipedia says that the name "Elijah" incorporates both "El" and "Jah," both of which refer to God; it says the name translates to (among other things) "My God is Jah."

All of which is interesting enough to me on its own—I had known that "El" in names sometimes referred to God, but had no idea there was a word for that—but is even more interesting to me because my very own name is an example of theophory.

My parents had various reasons for naming me "Jedediah": partly after Jedediah Smith, for example, and partly because it was, they always said, King Solomon's name before he changed it to Solomon.

Turns out in that context it's usually spelled "Jedidiah," with an i in place of the second e. But regardless, it was in fact a name given to Solomon when he was a baby, and it means "beloved of God"; I never thought of this before, but I now assume the "iah" part at the end refers to Yahweh.

Publishing Dictionary

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Yet another in the long list of dictionaries/glossaries available online: a Publishing Dictionary, in which literary agent Jessica Faust provides definitions of a few dozen publishing-related terms.


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According to the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, a manugrapher's job is to trace and paint advertising material, including lettering.

Which is pretty much what one might expect from the roots of the word: someone who writes by hand. But I'm pleased and amused that it's a job title.

A sign to help with the alphabet game


The alphabet game involves trying to find a written instance of each letter of the alphabet while traveling by car. Sometimes the rules require that the letters appear only on license plates (so it's also known as "the license plate game"); sometimes they can also appear on any sign or other textual context.

The blog Oddly Specific provides a photo of a road sign in Wyoming that helps out travelers who are stuck in the game.

Australian slang

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Recently encountered an annotated transcription of a podcast from 2007 covering a wide variety of Australian slang terms.

Recently happened across two useful online glossaries, probably while editing a story:


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MW10 says that inanition is (among other definitions) "the exhausted condition that results from lack of food and water."

Useful word!

Seems like the adjective form should be "inane" (as in: "I'm totally inane; I better have some dinner"), but although that comes from the same root (Latin "inanis," meaning "empty"), it doesn't mean the same thing.

burka, hijab, niqab, chadri, etc

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Nice post from last month at HotCoffeeMississippi about various names for Islam forms of modest dress, including all the ones in the title of this entry.

The BBC provides a set of illustrations for some such terms, though it doesn't provide as much context or cultural information as the abovelinked entry.


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According to Wikipedia, "terroir" is "the special characteristics that geography bestow[s] upon particular varieties" of wine, coffee, and tea, based on "the assumption that the land [where] the grapes [or whatever] are grown imparts a unique quality that is specific to that region."

In addition to the literal meaning, I like it as a metaphor for the characteristics (if any) bestowed by someone's homeland.

Video demo of a nifty project called Typeface 2 by Mary Huang. It analyzes the user's face and generates letters of a typeface based on things like the user opening and closing their mouth, or widening their eyes.


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EDNOS turns out to be an acronym for Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

Which isn't at all unusual in itself, but I'm kind of amused by the idea that someone can be diagnosed as having EDNOS.

(Eating disorders themselves are obviously no laughing matter. What I'm amused by is the phrasing.)

I was also amused by the Guardian's attempted acronym expansion. I first encountered the term in an article about orthorexia nervosa. (The article reads kind of like a parody, but it appears to be serious.) It says:

Until a few years ago, there were so few sufferers that doctors usually included them under the catch-all label of "Ednos"—eating disorders not otherwise recognised.

At which I thought, wait, shouldn't that be "Ednor"? But then Wikipedia cleared it up; I assume the article's author just got confused.


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Turns out that quango, also spelled qango, is an acronym for "quasi non-governmental organization" or "quasi-autonomous NGO." Looks like the term is fairly common in the UK and elsewhere, but I don't think I had ever heard it before.

Happy National Grammar Day!

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It's National Grammar Day!

Apparently created by the folks who brought us the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG).

The National Grammar Day site initially looked annoyingly prescriptivist to me, but their Top Ten Grammar Myths suggests that they're more flexible than I had given them credit for.

Punny names

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An assortment of real-life British punny names, with more in the comments following the article. Including a couple that are so British I didn't get them. It took me a while to figure out that Dawn Hobbs probably sounds like "doorknobs" in some British accents, for example.

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