Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Learning | Grateful for Word Nerds

I mentioned in a previous post that I love reading dictionaries.  It should come as no surprise that I consider myself a word nerd.  My best  friend, Roberta, recently reminded me of the time she gave me some lotion from the Dead Sea.   "The packaging was written in a galoompty different languages, and you mentioned that that was as much fun as the lotion."   

Ladyfingers & Nun's Tummies
Of course, my best friend is also a word nerd. She made up the word "galoompty" while she was dreaming.  In her dream, she needed a term for an impossibly big number -- and her subconscious rewarded her with "tri-galoompty oompty." 

There's a customer named Marian, who knows I like big words -- we talk about interesting words in book titles.  Recently, she kindly brought me a printout of an email about a cool word: paraprosdokian. Paraprosdokians are figures of speech which have a surprise at the end.  For example, "I used to be indecisive; now I'm not so sure."  I understand the term comes from Greek terms for "against" and "expectation."

The Meaning of Everything
This holiday season, I'm thankful for books about words, like Ladyfingers & Nun's Tummies: a Lighthearted Look at How Foods Got Their Names (I love the examples of foods named by mistake) and The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary

True word nerds know that the Oxford English Dictionary, or OED, is the definitive source on words in the English language.  There's a copy of the OED in the reference section of Cesar Chavez Central Library. (Sorry, word nerds, but we need to use it in the library. Since it is 20 volumes long, that may be a good thing--can you imagine trying to schlep that thing home, or fit it in the book drop?)


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