Hello, my name is Scribacchina, and I’m a word addict

… and even spammers seem to know it!

Imagine my surprise when I found a long spam comment (with awful punctuation, which I am editing out of this post) going something like this:

The powers of the letters, when they were applied to a new language, must have been vague and unsettled, and therefore different hands would exhibit the same sound by different combinations.  From this uncertain pronunciation arise in a great part the various dialects of the same country…

and this

Of many words it is difficult to say whether they were immediately received from the Latin or the French, since at the time when we had dominions in France, we had Latin service in our churches.

and more. So I did a quick search and found out that it was taken from Johnson’s preface to his Dictionary. And I found out that that Preface is an interesting read, if somewhat outdated. And I later found out this interesting homage to the Dictionary itself.

Why anyone would use such a text as spam content is still beyond my understanding.

On a completely unrelated note, if you are a word addict like me you may like this page.

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Wondrous Words Wednesday: Sue Monk Kidd II

This week’s words all come from The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd (See this week round-up at BermudaOnion’s blog!)

*****

I parked in front of Kat’s gift shop, where Max sat beneath the blue-and-white-striped awning

Awning: n.a sheet of canvas or similar material stretched on a frame and used to shelter a shop window or doorway.

Never heard of this one, though it was clear from the context:

Image by Scoobyfoo on Flickr

*****

Hepzibah was wearing an ebony shift

Shift: n. a straight dress that hangs from the shoulders and is not fitted at the waist.

I didn’t know this meaning at all!

*****

He pointed to a flash of mullet, to several wood storks lifting out of the grass, to an osprey nest perched atop a dead pine.

Mullet: n. a family of ray-finned fish found worldwide in coastal temperate and tropical waters, and in some species in fresh water.

Osprey: n. a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey.

*Both definitions come from Wikipedia

Mullet (image credits by Wikipedia)

Osprey (image credits by Wikipedia)

*****

She was the only person I knew more fearless than Kat, someone who could, if she wanted, clean Kat’s Clock, as they say.

To clean someone’s clock: N. Amer. informal beat or decisively defeat someone.

I’d have never guessed. It would be nice to know how this saying came into use.

*****

The room was painted the color of pluff mud – a rich, fermenting brown – and there were mermaid doodads everywhere.

Doodad: informal an object that the speaker cannot name precisely.

Another one I would never have guessed.

*****

We were going to stand in this little room – no longer suffused in wan, romantic hues but only in ordinary dimness – and use innocuous conversation as a defense.

Wan: adj. (of light) pale; weak

This I had completely misunderstood. I had connected it to “wanton”, but it is not so. I wonder.

*****

(All definitions are taken from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary © 2008 via WordReference.com unless otherwise stated.)

The most beautiful word

What’s the most beautiful word of the English language? Votes are accepted now, on this site.

The first that comes to mind, for me, is:

crescent n. 1 the curved shape of the waxing or waning moon. 2 a thing which has the shape of a single curve, especially when broad in the centre and tapering to a point at each end; chiefly Brit. a street or terrace of houses forming an arc. 3 (the Crescent) chiefly historical the political power of Islam or of the Ottoman Empire. (definition from WordReference.com)

I’d be glad to hear about yours!