Dulce, utile, et decorum est pro patria scribere
I was simultaneously gladdened and saddened to learn about an English cat named Casper who used to ride the bus in Devon until he was struck by a car. His owner had “re-homed” him from a rescue centre. I haven’t seen the word “re-homed” before. Now we hope he is re-homed in an even better place. Maybe Casper has been repurposed too. He was a fine cat.
Heard somewhere: “We have a fraught relationship…” I thought for sure that “fraught” means “laden” and without a qualifier shouldn’t be used as a stand-alone adjective. But dict.org does show one example from WordNet similar to the one I quoted. It’s true that even when the word is qualified, it’s generally with something negative, as fraught with danger, fraught with tension, etc., so maybe it can stand alone as an adjective. But I still wouldn’t use “fraught” by itself without a following prepositional phrase, certainly not in conversation and probably not in more formal writing either. “Are you fraught? I’m fraught.”
The word is obviously related to “freight” but the root surprisingly means something like “merit” or “deserve”, which meaning has been completely lost now.
Hard to Read
In the January 20 cartoon, Agnes fakes her homework in an uber-literate style. The text is:
Supposedly the underwear bomber slipped through security because his name was misspelled on one list of security threats. If so, this is only one of the security misses that let Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab fly. It does, however, show that spelling may be more, not less, important than it used to be. You usually have to be exact in finding data in a computer database, if not on the Web.
When humans check lists, they are capable of spotting spelling mistakes or alternatives, such as Abdul Mutallab, Abdulmutallab, Abdoul Moutallab, etc. but machines have both lesser and greater capabilities. Some search engines will give you alternative spellings (e.g. Google, “Did you mean: abdul mutallab ?”).
The airlines must not be using Soundex with their computerized manifests. Soundex is “a phonetic algorithm for indexing names by sound, as pronounced in English. The goal is for homophones to be encoded to the same representation so that they can be matched despite minor differences in spelling.” Example: While Douglas is a family name, for instance, one of my forebears spelled it Douglass, and there are several other spellings. Soundex is used in genealogy searches for family names, since the spelling of names changes. If you do a search on Rootsweb for Duglass using the Soundex converter, you get DESAULLES | DOUGLAS | DOUGLASS | DUCLOS (why Desaulles?). But a search for Abdul or Abdoul turns up nothing, though we know there are various phonetic spellings of that non-English name.
I did not know that
The word “apocalyptic” comes from the Greek “calypsos” meaning revelation. “Revelation” is comes from Latin, meaning the same thing. I always assumed that apocalypse had something to do with the end of the world, but it’s more like a cataclysmic event that reveals something, or the truth about something. It’s more about unveiling than destroying.
(Note: Fred says I wrote about this before in PO, but I don’t remember. It’s nice to learn something new even if it’s something I used to know.)
Mike the Sykes
Mike Sykes wrote:
I love the Shropshire Lad parody as well as The Shropshire Lad itself. A. E. Houseman made an amusing case for capital punishment.
Poets at Play seems to be unavailable now, unfortunately.
Finally Mike wrote regarding anacrostics (also called crostics):
(Sample was not attached, Mike. Send it again.) The English seem to be good at tricky puzzles so I’m surprised they don’t have this type.
One of the Examiner.com items I listed last week drew a comment from a reader (not a PO reader) who thought I was slamming the priest I quoted who made a little jest about ecology. I followed up with an explanatory comment of my own. I’d like to know if any PO readers read this bit the same way commenter Dan did? This is the one: Is fuel wasted on human survival? You all know my style, of course, but if you read carefully, did I miss my mark?
The Weekly Gizzard: Moi on Examiner.com
Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
The Senate rejected Obama's proposal to form a task force to study the deficit, in other words, to study what...
Monday, January 25th, 2010
Although polls show that the majority of Ohians don't want a new rail system connecting Cincinnati, Columbus,...
Friday, January 22nd, 2010
After the surprising election of Scott Brown to the people's-Senate-seat-formerly-
Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and others have taken advantage of the disaster in Haiti to say that the U.S. has...
I’m publishing for the Kindle digital reader with Amazon and now also on Lulu.com for download to computer and for printing. Most of these titles are available in both locations. Search for Rhonda Keith on Amazon.com Kindle store and Lulu.com.
A Walk Around Stonehaven is a travel article on my trip to Scotland. Short article with photos. (Lulu.com only.)
The Wish Book is fantasy-suspense-romance featuring the old Sears Roebuck catalogues. Novella.
Carl Kriegbaum Sleeps with the Corn is about a young gambler who finds himself upright in a cornfield in Kansas with his feet encased in a tub of concrete; how would you get out of a spot like that? Short story.
Still Ridge is about a young woman who moves from Boston to Appalachia and finds there are two kinds of moonshine, the good kind and the kind that can kill you. Short story.
Whither Spooning? asks whether synchronized spooning can be admitted to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Humorous sports article.
Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Cats: One woman's tale of menopause, in which I learn that the body is predictive; I perceive that I am like my cat; and I find love. Autobiographical essay.
Parvum Opus Volume I. The first year (December 2002 through 2003). You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get PO’ed. Collection of columns.
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Scot Tartans: T-shirts and more (custom orders available).
Trivium pursuit ~ rhetoric, grammar, and logic, or reading, writing, and reckoning: Parvum Opus discusses language, education, journalism, culture, and more. Parvum Opus by Rhonda Keith is a publication of KeithOps / Opus Publishing Services. Editorial input provided by Fred Stephens. Rhonda Keith is a long-time writer, editor, and English teacher. Feel free to e-mail me with comments or queries. The PO mailing list is private, never given or sold to anyone else. If you don't want to receive Parvum Opus, please e-mail, and I'll take you off the mailing list. Copyright Rhonda Keith 2010. Parvum Opus or part of it may be reproduced only with permission, but you may forward the entire newsletter as long as the copyright remains.
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