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Thursday, November 3, 2011

C, c: November, the Alphabet Project

November I'll be blogging about the alphabet and etymology.

C, c From the Phoenician Gimel, “sling” or “throwing-stick.” Hence, the three great achievements of the Neolithic, as represented by the first three letters of the alphabet, were domestication of animals, man-made shelter, and warfare.



calque: A word formed by translation from another language. Typically English adopts words wholesale, as in déjà vu, amuck, or kindergarten, but calques especially picturesque or apropos phrases, as in “losing face” from the Chinese diū liǎn, or “scapegoat,” possibly a mistranslation of azazel, a demon of Hebrew mythology, for 'ez ozel, "the goat that escapes.”

cliché: I will forego the whimsical catalogue of clichés a lesser lexicographer would mistakenly think witty and original. French printers called a ready-made phrase cast as a single piece of type a cliché, onomatopoeia for the liquid slap and hiss as a hot letter mold drops into cold water.

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Coming November 30th, the RETURN OF THE STOOPID CONTEST!

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