Vocabulary

Vocabulary Collage, May 2017

May 17, 2017

Every morning, words float into my email box, delivering wonder. They are sent by wordsmith.org, an online service I have subscribed to for years because I desire to expand and improve my vocabulary. Each email contains a new vocabulary word and “A Thought for Today.” With nearly 400,000 subscribers in 170 countries, I have found my tribe: Word Lovers.

The founder, Anu Garg has written two books --about words of course-- and is a computer scientist, but why I feel an affinity with him is the choices he makes in creating themes for each week and his social and political commentary in his opening paragraphs.

Stuti Garg is an Orthoepist – yes, I did need to look that word up. It was very difficult to find a definition, but I found one that stated: the customary pronunciation of words. Stuti’s job is to voice the audio pronunciation of each day’s word. 

Words – their definitions, usage in language, sounds, and my mis-pronunciations –enchant me. If I am blessed to feel bored, I turn to learning new words to challenge my mind and fire-up my synapses while struggling to memorize those that are unfamiliar.

Since January 2017, Anu has cleverly engaged our minds with the thoughts of citizens who love and value democracy and who chasten leaders who do not. One example:

kakistocracy 
PRONUNCIATION:
(kak-i-STOK-ruh-see, kah-ki-) 

MEANING: noun: Government by the least qualified or worst persons. 

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek kakistos (worst), superlative of kakos (bad) + -cracy (rule). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kakka-/kaka- (to defecate), which also gave us poppycock, cacophony, cacology, and cacography. Earliest documented use: 1829. 

USAGE:
“We must weigh our votes carefully. Else we are in danger of turning America’s time-tested democracy into a kakistocracy.”
Dan Warner; The Best Man for the Job Is Not as Easy as it Sounds; The News Press (Fort Myers, Florida); Jan 17, 2016. 

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed, and love of power. —P.J. O'Rourke, writer (b. 14 Nov 1947)

Or this inspirational word followed by wisdom from Thurgood Marshall:

pierian 
PRONUNCIATION:
(py-EER-ee-uhn) 

MEANING:
adjective: Relating to learning or poetry. 

ETYMOLOGY:
After Pieria, a region in Greece. In Greek mythology, Pieria was home to a spring that was sacred to the Muses and inspired anyone who drank from it. Earliest documented use: 1591. 

NOTES:
Alexander Pope in his poem “An Essay on Criticism” (1709) wrote
“A little learning is a dang’rous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.” 

USAGE:
“After I had listed my courses: English, math, and science, he said, ‘I see you have begun to drink at the Pierian Spring. In time your appetite will become insatiable.’”
Helen Hickok; Short Stories; Lulu; 2015. 

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. —Harper Lee, writer (28 Apr 1926-2016) 

And one of my favorite A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure. —Thurgood Marshall, US Supreme Court Justice (1908-1993)

In these times of ear-scorching news streams, my lodestar is “the magic of words” to better express myself with exactness and variety so that my words may act as a talisman (Anything that has magical powers and brings miraculous effects). 

“Ko taku reo taku ohooho, ko taku reo taku māpihi mauria.”
My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul.”
—Māori Proverb