Thursday, November 29, 2012

Language of Confusion: It’s a Given

Because last week was Thanksgiving. Or something.
Give first showed up in Old Englishas giefan, with the same meaning (as in to give to someone), yet it actually appeared as yiven in Old English’s predecessor Middle English. The change to the hard g was from Norse influence, and probably the fact that yiven and giefan evolved from the Proto Germanicgebanan with a hard G. That word can be traced even further back to the ancient Proto Indo Europeanghabh (take, hold, have or give). This week’s “Can you believe they’re related” reveals that ghabh is also the origin word for habit. Weird? Yes, but habit comes from the classical Latin habitus, meaning demeanor or dress and the past participle of habere, “to have or hold”. The line from ghabh to there is a lot clearer now.

There’s also the alternate meaning of give, as in “give in”. There’s no obvious reason for the disparate meanings, but “give up” showed up in the twelfth century, give out in the fourteenth, and as in “give in” in the seventeenth, so it always seems to have had that meaning to it.

And we can’t forget about forgive. It showed up in Old English as, appropriately enough, forgiefan, which could mean “give or allow” as well as “forgive”, “give up” and “give away in marriage”. I’m kind of glad it’s lost that connotation. Anyway, the giefan part should be obvious by now but I don’t think we’ve ever talked about the prefix for- before (heh). As a prefix, for- can mean away, opposite, or completely. Since the whole for- thing could be a post of its own, let’s just say that forgive means “give completely”. That makes sense for most of the dropped definitions, but the current one was adopted basically as a substitute for pardon. Because for some reason, we needed another word for it.

TL;DR: Give and habit come from the same word from thousands of years ago and forgive was given a new meaning just because.

Tony Jebson’s page on The Origins of Old English

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Sometimes I forget that the cardinal rule of blogging is that it’s about the reader, not the writer, otherwise it’s little more than a diary open for everyone to read, which makes it no fun.

1. Engage the reader. This doesn’t have to be by asking questions at the end of the post. If the post is evocative enough, people will leave comments. For example, when I spoke about objectivity, I had comments because having things deemed good or bad was a subject people could relate to. They had opinions on it. It was interesting.

2. While the subject should be interesting (obviously) to the reader, it should also be interesting to you as you’ll write more passionately if it’s something you like. This is probably why I have quite a few posts about writing and etymology (of course, I may be the only one interested in the latter…)

3. Posts in list form are often easier and more engaging to read. Short, succinct items are popular with the generation raised with Twitter and Facebook. Tangentially, what I’m doing right here is being self-referential.

4. Continuing with item two’s line of thought, don’t post etymology posts unless you’re okay with low numbers. But for me, I’d say worth it.

5. Add a picture to attract attention. If you can’t find one that’s relevant, use a cat picture. It works every time.

And that’s five tips on being popular from someone who has no idea what being popular entails.

Welcome to the internet.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Random Thoughts

---Well, Thanksgiving has passed for another year and I am probably off in a turkey coma, so yeah. Random Thoughts.
---Actual correction in the newspaper: “The tortoise won its race with the hare in Aesop’s fable about those animals. A clue in Sunday’s crossword puzzle inaccurately described the race’s outcome.” It’s…I…how does anyone get that wrong???
---Also, the correction appeared on a Wednesday, so it took them at least a day to notice.
---Speaking of newspapers, actual headline: “Death at cockroach eating contest raises questions.” Yes. Several.
---Sometimes I see people still advertising their LiveJournals and it’s like, how adorable. Which only reminds me that in three years someone’s going to be doing that to me about Blogger.
---Hell, make that three months.
---Back when I wrote the post about the “Tidy, Mighty Spider”, I learned that tidy really is a synonym for large, as in, a tidy sum. Before I looked up synonyms of large, I thought it meant a figuratively neat sum. Who knew?
---Despite only ten percent of the population being left-handed, more than half of the last thirteen US presidents have been lefties (Truman, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and Obama were while Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter and George W. Bush were not), as well as a good deal of presidential candidates. So I guess not everything is prejudiced against the left-handed after all.
---Why don’t they call it Random Penguin House? Dammit, it’s the most awesome company name in all of history and they just pass it up! Guys! The F---!
---If you ever need to perform CPR, remember: 100 beats per minute. According to Ryan North, the easiest way to keep track is by singing “Another One Bites the Dust”, with a chest compression on each beat.
---And another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the dust!
---When the people come to me begging for help after I kept warning that Christmas music and commercials are starting earlier and earlier to the point where there is no visible difference between the holiday season and the rest of the year, I will look down at them and whisper “No.”

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Since I’m not around to tell you in person, I leave this message for you: Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you have a fun day.

As usual, I’m posting something different for the holiday. The first year I did this blog, I posted The Writer’s Flowchart, still one of my all-time favorite posts. Last years was The Alphabet Family Tree, which I think was pretty cool but of course I’m me.

This year, don’t expect anything so fancy (and considering those previous attempts, I mean keep that bar low). It’s more stick figures and cut and paste because I can’t draw.

Click to embiggen.

If you’re wondering about the amount of writing actually taking’re right. It is too much.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Storm Approaches

And by that I mean, of course, Thanksgiving. You Canadians don’t know how lucky you are to have it over and done with. Since I started this blog, I have had two horrendous Thanksgiving experiences and I have to admit, I’m on edge about the whole thing even though, thank Great and Mighty Cthulhu, most of my relatives aren’t coming.

But that’s boring talk. Mostly I want to wish you guys a happy Thanksgiving since I’m not going to be around Thursday, and possibly not Wednesday and/or Friday as well. If you don’t celebrate the holiday (or already have)…happy Thursday? It’s a pretty good day. Weekend is coming. That should be fun.

Yeah, this post isn’t one of my more interesting attempts. I think the impending holiday has made me lazy and I’ll scold myself later, I promise, then get back to work updating the content you all know and love. Or maybe some pictures I pulled off Creative Commons. Probably the latter. In fact, to get you started, here’s one now!

You can tell I didn't draw it because it's good.

Cute, isn’t he? Well, he’s going to be eaten.

I’m out. Have a good week if I don’t talk to you again. I really do promise to work on more interesting content. Hugs!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

She MEANS Library

I'm posting more than a day early so you should be able to tell that this is good.

A few of you may have heard of a little book called ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis. Apparently Ms. Revis is the generous sort because she is giving away, in her words, a library: fifty signed books to one lucky winner.

That's right. Fifty. 50. Twice twenty five and half of one hundred.

I can't believe it either. So go enter now because even if a million people enter, you could still win and wouldn't it be a great one. Powerball's ads say "Where else can you buy a dream for a dollar?" and I say no where, but you can get one for free by entering the giveaway.

YA has always been more of an audience than a simple genre. Not only open and honest, it describes the awkward, often painful experience of being in between child and adult. Some times it's focused through a different lens--dystopian, paranormal, contemporary--but the core is the same: growing beyond boundaries. Maybe into a hero. Maybe into a villain. Maybe a lover. Maybe a friend. With YA, the possibilities are endless. I'm thankful to be able to work with such a rich fabric.

Later, gators! If I don't win, I hope it's you!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Language of Confusion: Alien

Alien showed up in English in the middle of the fourteenth century, but since extraterrestrials and all that only came in vogue in the last century, back then it just meant foreign. English alien came from an Old Frenchword with the same spelling and meaning, which in turn came from the classical Latin alienus, and again, the meaning was pretty much the same.

Alienus (a fun word to write, in my opinion) is a different form of another Latin word, alius, which means “another” and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it’s also the origin word for alias. So an alias is another, foreign identity, am I right? Alius can also be traced back to the Proto Indo European al-, beyond, and that just happens to be the origin word of the Old Englishelles. Or as we call it these days, else.

Well, that was a quick one. I don't even think I need a TL;DR. Probably should do more like this ; ).

Tony Jebson’s page on The Origins of Old English

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


From what I remember about school, there are three types of teachers. There are the good ones, the ones who take the time to connect with you and are passionate about their work. Then there are also the bad ones. They leave an impression for basically the opposite reason. Perhaps they are good educators but kind of jerks, or perhaps they’re nice enough but you don’t learn anything. Worse, maybe they’re both incompetent and mean, pulling you away from laughing with your friends to ask you if you enjoy being mean (seriously, where the hell did that come from?). Finally there are the ones that don’t leave an impression either way. I’d talk more about this kind but I don’t remember much about them.

No matter the variety, each teacher has done something to shape you. But for most, good, bad, or indifferent, it’s just a dent. For example, I remember all the way back to kindergarten, where the teacher was a good one, if strangely uptight about some things. She affected me, yes, just not to the degree of, say, my fourth grade teacher (in terms of ugh, e-gad!) or my eleventh grade English teacher (best ever, by the way).

My point is that teachers are extremely influential people. My not-remarkable teacher is another’s great one, or maybe someone’s biggest frustration. The worst teacher I ever had may have actually had a positive impact on someone’s life (although for various reasons I won’t get into that involve some very bad stuff, I strongly doubt it). And as the holiday season approaches, perhaps it would be nice to do something in memory of a teacher (a donation to an educational organization) or if you have school age children, one of their teachers (not a scented candle; from what I heard, that’s the go-to gift and they have enough to get them through power-outages for the rest of their lives).

What were our most influential teachers and what lessons did you carry away? If you’re a teacher, what kind of gift do you suggest?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Case of Paper v Ereader

A comment by Liz got me thinking: which is better, reading a paper book or using an ereader? Yes, you can say “Oh, but both have advantages and drawbacks, it all depends on your taste” etc. etc. But that’s a cop out for those not willing to relentlessly analyze everything to the point that it’s no fun for anyone anymore.

---Usually, books are cheaper.
---More environmentally friendly.
---Does not need external light source.
---Can store thousands of books in one easy to move tablet.
---More durable for small things, like spills.

---The books that aren’t cheaper are usually the most popular ones, and they’re ridiculously overpriced. JK Rowling.
---Can run out of power.
---Format incompatibilities.
---People will steal tablets.
---No autographed copies.
---The light of electronic screens tends to make it difficult to sleep afterwards.
---Can lose thousands of books if something happens to tablet.

Paper books
---Generally induces fewer headaches.
---No power requirements.
---People rarely steal books.
---Less worries about breaking it.

---Usually more expensive.
---Not all books are out in paper.
---Harder to transport a thousand paper books than one ereader.
---Can rip pages or spill.

Do you have any pros or cons to add to either side? Also stay tuned for next week, when I try to coax people into rating said pros and cons because that’s just what I’m like.