Thursday, June 30, 2016

Language of Confusion: Dict-, Part I

Another multi-part series? The madness! Or maybe I’m just picking very widespread word pieces. This week: words that begin with dict-.

No giggling.

Diction showed up in the mid sixteenth century, but it only meant a word—it was a couple of decades later that it started to morph into what we use it as today. It comes from the Late Latin dictionem, a saying or a word, which can be traced to the classical Latin dicere, speak or say. It can be traced to the Proto Indo European deik, to point out, which just happens to be the origin word of digit because fingers point out literally.

Dictate showed up at the end of the sixteenth century, meaning pretty much what it means today. It came from the classical Latin dictatus, which is just dictated, the past tense of dictare, to dictate. Dictare is a frequentative (repetitive action word, like wrestling is to wrest, as opposed to wresting) of dicere, so we got these two words from different versions of the same word.

Dictator, though related, has quite the history on its own. It showed up in the late fourteenth century, meaning it’s older than all the other words here. It comes from the classical Latin dictator, which means...dictator. I’m not sure what else you were expecting. And it comes from dictare like dictate does, but went through even less changing. I guess English didn’t feel the need to change the word for a tyrannical overlord.

Then there’s dictionary, which showed up in the early sixteenth century before either of the above. It comes from the Medieval Latin dictionarium, a collection of words and phrases (yeah, I see it) and the classical Latin dictionarius, of words, and dictio, expression or word.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Death of Tweetdeck, Part 2

I didn’t expect this to be a continuing series, but frankly, I’ve been kind of annoyed with Janetter’s, which I think was causing problems with my computer. So I went looking for another, and found Yoono.

It’s…okay, I guess. Not great. Servicable, I think is the best word for it.

---Still calls Favorites Favorites! Woo!
---Fairly intuitive.
---Lets you link a bunch of different social media sites, so you can not only look at updates from Facebook and LinkedIn and whatever, you can also update them all at the same time.

---There’s very little customization of the appearance, and I’m not a fan of the plain white background.
---Navigation is a bit awkward, although you should be able to figure it out (there’s a little icon in the bottom corner that lets you scroll).
---The updates only come in about every minute or so it’s not exactly instant.
---It only lets you go look at a fixed number of posts, so you can only go back so far. Seriously?!

Honestly, I’d stick with Janetter over this one…except, like I said, I think Janetter is causing some glitches in my computer, namely that it’s causing touchpad driver to periodically crash, which means I can’t scroll with it and that’s just so annoying. I don’t know if this problem would happen to other people—my computer is at the crappy end of the technology scale—but the fact that it’s happening at all makes me reconsider their worth. And since I’ve uninstalled it, I haven’t had any problems with my touchpad.

Sigh. We really can’t get something as good as Tweetdeck, can we?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

One Of Those Days

Seriously, the universe is out to get me.

In my defense, it was like the third time that day I had to clean up cat puke.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Language of Confusion: What the -Duce? Part II

Here we are again! More -Duce/-Duct words. Because it’s fun, dammit.

Abduct is relatively recent, showing up in 1834, either from abduction…or abduce. Seriously? That’s a word? Huh, it is. Abduce actually showed up in the early sixteenth century, which was a full century before abduction. Abduce is from the classical Latin abductus, withdrawn, and abduction is from abductionem, abducting. Both are from abducere, which can mean withdraw, lead away, or just plain abduct. The ab- part gives us away, while ducere, if you’ll remember from last week, means to lead. Hey, it makes sense! How about that.

There is no “seduct”, but there is a seduction, so we’re going to look at -duction words now. Seduce and seduction both showed up at the same time, in the early sixteenth century. But boy were there some differences between them. Seduce originally meant to “persuade a vassal to desert his allegiance”, coming from the classical Latin seducere, seduce or lead away. Seduction is from the Latin seductionem, which is just seduction, but again, it had no sexual connotations to it until Modern English. Anyway, the se- part of seduction is a little known prefix that means apart or away. It actually makes sense that seducere means “lead away”. Although still not why English had to bring sex into it.

Reduce showed up in the late fourteenth century as bring back, while reduction showed up in the early fifteenth century as restoration to a previous state. Hm. Apparently from the “earlier state”, people started to think of it as “to an inferior condition”, and then it morphed into diminish or lessen. I guess I can see the logic of that one. Anyway, reduction comes from the Latin reductionem (just reduction), which comes from reduce’s origin word, reducere (big shock, it’s reduce). Re- means back, so with ducere it’s lead back. And from that we got the crazy path to the definition we have today.

Introduce showed up in the early fifteenth century, coming from introduction, which showed up in the late fourteenth century. Or it might come from the Latin introducere, lead in, and the verb form of introductionem, introducing. Intro- means inside, plus ducere, gives us lead inside. Okay, this one I really don’t see the logic of. Maybe if you lead something inside you’re introducing it?

Finally, I’d like to mention that aqueduct and viaduct are also related. In classical Latin, aquaeductus is a mix of aqua, water, and ductus, lead. Basically, it’s leading water which is exactly what an aqueduct does. Viaduct is the same, but via means road. So it’s leading by a road. Kind of interesting, huh?

Shut up. Yes it is.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Left Behind

I’ve only mentioned this a couple of times, so you might not be aware of it, but my brother is in the Navy, and he’s stationed in Japan. When he’s not on a ship, he lives in Tokyo pretty much full time. He came home recently, but only for about ten days, and he stayed with my mom of course. After he went back to Japan though, my mom told me that he left a few things behind.

She had trouble figuring out what it was since it’s in freaking Japanese. But if you look at the top of the tin…

You find the only English on the thing. The picture isn’t very good, but it says “Stomachic & Antacid”. Stomachic?

Yeah, apparently it is a word, meaning relating to or beneficial for the stomach, and it can be used as a noun in relation to a medicine. God only knows how the Japanese manufacturers found that word. I’m guessing someone used their equivalent of Google Translate.

All the ingredients on it are in Japanese (kanji script, I think), but it smells like cinnamon, which makes sense since cinnamon is supposed to be good for digestion. My brother’s on a ship right now but I’d really like to ask him if it works. Maybe not, since he did leave it behind…

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Another totally true story.

You may have noticed that my bun is a lot smaller than it used to be. That’s because I cut off most of my hair a couple of weeks ago. Also because of summer.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Language of Confusion: What the -Duce? Part I

I think it’s a clever pun. That’s all that matters.

Induce—also spelled enduce—showed up in the late fourteenth century coming from the classical Latin inducere, lead. Induct showed up at about the same time, having a slightly different history. It comes from the past participle of inducere, inductus (you know, inducted) which is how that t got in there. The in- is just in, and the ducere means lead. Hm. A bit redundant there. And just to throw it out there ducere is also the origin word for duke, as in the royal title, and less surprisingly, the word duct.

Deduce and deduct also showed up in the early fifteenth century, also come from classical Latin, and come from the words deducere (lead down) and deductus (drawn down). De- is the down part, and ducere is lead, so it’s to lead down, which I guess is what you do figuratively when you’re deducing. So miraculously, this makes sense!

Both product and produce showed up in the early fifteenth century (although as a noun produce didn’t show up until two centuries later). Their histories are pretty much the same as induce/induct, with them coming from the classical Latin producere, produce, and productum, product (I know you can’t see it, but I’m rolling my eyes right now). The pro- prefix means forth here, as in bringing something forth, so when you mix it with ducere/to lead, it’s to lead forth. I’m not really sure how it got from that to what we know produce as. Can we just dismiss it by saying words are weird? Then let’s do that.

Yes, conduce is a word. No, I hadn’t heard of it before today either. Apparently it means “lead to a result”. Both it and conduct showed up in the early fifteenth century, and again, one comes from the Latin conducere, hire or bring together, and conductus, which is just to conduct. The con- comes from com-, together, so lead together. Which makes sense for the bring together part, but not for the rest. It seems that conduct just changed over the years, although it’s a much more versatile word now. I guess the other definitions just grew from the original.

Join us next week for the stupefying conclusion.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Back. Mostly.

Okay, so here I am. It was kind of a sad, frustrating couple of weeks there, but hopefully things are going back to normal now. Seriously, I have to say it: even if you’re grieving, how can you throw a memorial service from four to eight in the evening and NOT offer food? Because then you just have a service that’s constantly interrupted by growling stomachs.

It’s just common sense.

But it’s all over with now and I can come back to blogging. I don’t think I’m back to my usual sarcastic self, though. But sometimes you have to pretend to be normal before you can actually start to be normal again.

Oh, and because apparently people need a reminder: grief isn’t a competition. Someone sharing how upset they are over something is not an invitation to say how much more upset you are over the troubles in your life.


Saturday, June 4, 2016


A while back, my mom asked me to come pull out this giant piece of wood sticking out from under the headlight of her car because, as she puts it, she’s “old and weak”. Really she just doesn’t want to do it.

There wasn’t any damage, which is surprising considering that it really did seem hugely long. It somehow managed to break and lodge under the light in such a way that it only barely chipped the paint, yet still was stuck in there a ridiculous amount.

I have no explanation. Physics is weird sometimes.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Language Of Confusion: Wait, Cline Is Actually A Word?

I started this etymology post intending to muse on the suffix -cline and how strange it is that decline is a word but cline isn’t. Then Word didn’t put the red squiggly line underneath cline when I typed it out. Apparently it’s really a word, meaning either the gradual change of certain characteristics in species or scale of continuous gradation in linguistics. What the hell…

To further the weirdness, cline didn’t even show up in English until 1938, coming from either the word incline or the Greek klinein, slope or lean. Despite not appearing until last century, there was actually a Middle English version of the word, clinen, bend or bow, coming from the Old French cliner and classical Latin clinare, decline. I guess this means that people stopped using the word in Middle English only to form a new version of the word centuries later. By the way, that clinare comes from the Proto Indo European klei, lean or incline. It’s also the origin word for lean because apparently we stopped using the K in front of it.

Incline showed up in the early fourteenth century with pretty much the same meaning. It comes from the Old French encliner, bend or lean, and classical Latin inclinare, which is just, you know, incline. The prefix in- means into or in, and we know clinare means bend, so it means to make something bend toward you. Well, at least this one makes sense.

Decline showed up in the late fourteenth century meaning turn aside or deviate—more figurative than incline when it started. It comes from the Old French decliner and classical Latin (bet you can’t guess this) declinare, decline. De- means from in this case. Combined with clinare, it’s bend/lean from, which…actually makes sense.

Finally, recline. It showed up in the early fifteenth century, coming from the Old French recliner, rest or bend over, and classical Latin reclinare, which…come on, you know it’s just recline. The re- prefix means back or against, so it’s lean/bend against, which is what reclining is.

So the only really confusing part of this one is that the word cline exists. Has anyone actually heard it used before?