I learnt a new word the other day: interrobang. It means ‘?!’ Apparently, printers call an exlamation point a bang, so if you add an interrogative point, or question mark, you get interrobang. Here’s a list of other nifty words that might be new to you. I didn’t know caruncula, and I didn’t even know there *was* a word, muselets, for the wire cage over the cork on a champagne bottle. Exceedingly useful, that.
Anyway, the article got me thinking about words I like: luscious is a particular favourite–but so is mine :) One word I’ve never liked is limpid. I know it means clear, transparent (etc.), but I can’t get past ‘limp’, which prompts images of things dead or dying, which leads me to beginning to rot, which in turn leads to murky, cloudy, and somewhat stinkous: pretty much the opposite of clear and transparent.
How about you? What words do and don’t work?
22 thoughts on “interrobang?!”
That was very interesting. I should have know what a caruncula was, mine stopped working when I was 21 years old! I had surgery to place a small tube in the corner of my eye to correct the problem. Now I know what the Doctor did!>>I can’t think of words that I particularly adore or despise. I do however dislike when words are used to hurt or diminish an individual.
This post made me smile. Finally, being ESL comes in handy. When I read <>limpid<> I just need to add an ‘o’ and I get the Spanish <>límpido<>, related to <>limpio<> which simply means ‘clean.’ >>I love Latinates. There’s a few on that list. Such as ‘lunula,’ derived from <>luna<>, which means ‘moon.’ Caruncula is the exact same word in Spanish, just add the typed accent for <>carúncula<>. The way I read it is as a derivative—in a Latin diminutive form—of <>carne<>: ‘meat’ or ‘flesh.’ So it’s a small flap or bit of flesh. We also call a turkey’s wattle <>carúncula<>. >>Because Spanish is so heavily based on Greek and Latin, we don’t restrict Latinate diction exclusively to the formal terminology of the Sciences and Humanities, the way English does. This sometimes makes people assess my English as being much better than it actually is. If anything, it should be telling of the opposite: that my command of my native language is decent and I’m lazy enough to allow it to contaminate my attempts at organizing thoughts in English.>>Oh, and to answer the favorite-word question… Mine is <>clepsydra<>, which in Greek means ‘to steal water’. <>Clepsydras<> can be water clocks, intermittent fountains, ebbing wells and—in my mind—magic turtles capable of time travel.
Puce. I hate that word.
I love how these two words are so close. I imagine it’s because of that I continually mix them up:>>perspicuous (syn: clear; Latin perspicuus transparent, perspicuous, <>from perspicere<>)>>perspicacious (syn: shrewd; Latin perspicac-, perspicax, <>from perspicere<>)>>Interesting how the Latin roots are the same. Anyone want to venture how they veered apart?
rory, yes, though the ones I dislike most are usually applied to groups of people as opposed to individuals.>>karina, I also love the word lunula. More on that tomorrow :) And I, too, am fascinated by the roots of words. To know where a word comes from gives it heft and extra meaning. And, ah, a water thief. Lovely.>>ssas, oh, but ‘puce’ is such a perfect word to describe an habitually angry person turning red.>>janine, I’m not sure they have diverged much. After all, shrewd means able to see clearly to the heart of the matter…
janine, those two words are still pretty close in meaning. They share most of their definitions. The only sense in which they differ is in that ‘perspicuous’ (Spanish: <>perspicuo<>) can be attached to inanimate objects to describe their physical qualities of clarity, transparency or/and smoothness, while ‘perspicacious’ (Spanish: <>perspicaz<>) has more to do with an abstract quality relating to intelligence. As such, the latter can only be applied to sentient beings. You could use ‘perspicacious’ to describe a look, an expression, an observation, comment, etc., but only because all those remain connected to—or are the manner exhibited by—the sentient being generating them. >>Words usually veer apart in translation. Commonly, Greek went into Latin and then from there into other languages. But sometimes Romance and Germanic languages borrowed directly from the Greek, producing interesting variations. Even within Latin, sometimes two words were derived to express two separate aspects of the same Greek word. My favorite example is < HREF="http://shetranslates.com/2008/library-rats-to-bookworms/" REL="nofollow">how the Greek Aeolic verb λέπορ turned into both ‘leprosy’ and ‘library.’<>
nicola, you’ve unleashed the word nerd in me… I’m very curious to see what you post about <>lúnula<> tomorrow—can’t help seeing the word with an accent, sorry. Oh, and I forgot to add that Clepsydra, the water-hoarding time wiz turtle, is Cassiopeia’s evil twin sister.
Huh, well, I was going to say that lunula has become one of my favorite words — every since someone told me about it a few months ago. But they are lacking a definition for it in that article.
jennifer, I’ll save what I have to say about lúnulas for tomorrow. ;-) I have a few guesses about what Nicola’s post will bring us. If I’m right, part of it will intersect with Hild research.>>nicola, talk about teasers, eh? Look at us, so expectant.
jennifer, then you should enjoy tomorrow’s post :)>>karina, oh yep, I’m a tease. And, no, nothing to do with Hild. Well, hmmn, okay, I’ve just figured out how to vaguely sort of include Hild…
Thanks for humoring me. :-D
I’ve found the etymology geek in me relatively “late” in life (I’ve been at it only the last few years) and my sense of wonder has grown exponentially.>>I guess I’m always searching for the story of how things began (galaxies, atoms, molecules, forces) and now finding the beginnings of words just adds to my pleasure. >>Tease me more! .grin.
Janine: I googled a question the other day-at work no less- asking why the sky is blue- not magenta, or loden green, or mocha. >>A favorite word: Daybreak>>Nonfavorite: dyscontrol…as in “counselors can purchase medication for consumers who exhibt behavior dyscontrol…”
A friend of mine likes interrobangs so much that she got a tattoo…>http://www.facebook.com/friends/?ref=tn#/photo.php?pid=1592774&id=606615863&ref=mf>>Limpid has always made me think of the word <>limpet<> which sounds the same. I used to call my tiny nephew my little limpet because he clung to me but now that he’s well over six foot tall not so much. Not sure where the <>Incredible Mr. Limpet<> fits in there.>>I like the way the word <>milk<> feels in my mouth with I say it. Again I may be influenced by the song of the same name by the <>Penguin Cafe Orchestra<>.>>I love Clepsydra–there’s such a long history of that sort of crime in my home state! So now there’s a word for that specific form of thief!>>I also like <>debacle<> why I cannot say.
Lunula reminds me of one of my favorite words, demi-lune (a table shaped like a half moon). I really like made up (pieced together) words. One of my favorites is smack, as in smack your lips or smack dab in the middle. I guess that’s why I use smackaroonie as an Internet name. Don’t ask me what “aroonie” means(grin), it just sounds right. Like buckaroonie or whackahoonie.
<>Milky<> is, for me, one of those primal words; it plugs right into the part of the brain that isn’t really verbal. (All very contradictory but, oh well…)
bluenote, that ‘ooo’ sound puts a skip in one’s mental step I think: hootenanny, whooo-ee…
Enervating sounds exactly the opposite of what it is, and therefore I despise it.>>I also hate the word pustule. Nobody should ever say it. Ever.
Well, in relation to the c word which no one should say, ever, there’s ‘carbuncle’, which can mean either a boil-like inflammation or a jewel. Gee, which would I prefer…?
“Puce”> is what Bobby Joe> would yell> as we lined up> at scrimmage and> dropped down into our stance.> He meant> he was going to take> my guy on a> crossblock. I,> I was to get his.> Somewhere around> the second time> Bobby Joe yelled> my guy usually began bailing> out.> Bobby Joe, he just> retired from the FBI.
We still don’t have the ‘carbuncle’ dilemma in Spanish. <>Carbúnculo<>, also <>carbunclo<>, has only the jewel sense attached to it. And it’s not just any jewel, but a very specific type: a ruby. >>I can totally see the word eventually going the same way it did in English, though. We also have <>carbunco<> to refer to the nasty disease found in cattle and transmissible to humans that manifests in those nasty boil-like inflammations Nicola mentions. >>All it takes for the term to veer is that veterinarians, ranchers, and the general public start adding an ‘l’ to ‘carbunco.’ I’m pretty sure some are already doing that, given how prominent a hypothetical epydemic spread of <>Bacillus antracis<> became a few years ago… It’s only a question of time before the dual meaning reaches the Royal Spanish Language Academy and infiltrates our dictionaries.
karina, a ruby? Interesting. In English it’s a red stone, but most often a garnet, I think.
Comments are closed.