Increase Word Power with Roget’s Thesaurus.

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Peter Mark Roget was born on 18 January 1779 in London, the son of a Swiss clergyman. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University and graduated in 1798.
As a young doctor he published works on tuberculosis and on the effects of nitrous oxide, known as ‘laughing gas’, then used as an anaesthetic.
Roget worked in Bristol and in Manchester and for a time was a private tutor, travelling with his charges to Europe.
In 1808, he moved to London and continued to lecture on medical topics.
He was made a fellow of the Royal Society and from 1827 to 1848 served as its secretary.
In 1814, he invented a slide rule to calculate the roots and powers of numbers. This formed the basis of slide rules that were common currency in schools and universities until the age of the calculator.
Later in his life, he attempted to construct a calculating machine. He also wrote on a wide range of topics.
In 1840, Roget effectively retired from medicine and spent the rest of his life on the project that has made his name, ‘Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrase’, which was a dictionary of synonyms.
As early as 1805 he had compiled, for his own personal use, a small indexed catalogue of words which he used to enhance his prolific writing.
His thesaurus was published in 1852 and has never been out of print.
Roget died on 12 September 1869.
via BBC History.

A History of Unusual Names.

unusual-namesWhilst conducting research into my family tree, I discovered a small collection of little girls born around between 1897-98 who were named either ‘Diamond’, ‘Jubilee’ or ‘Diamond Jubilee’, in honour of Queen Victoria’s landmark anniversary.
Looking a bit closer and going for a wildcard search, I found that it was a very popular phenomena!
Even the boys didn’t escape; you have to feel a bit sorry for ‘Jubilee Frederick’.
There were also a large number of children, again of both genders, given “Jubilee” as a middle name (at least was easier to hide), and the same thing had happened ten years earlier for the Golden Jubilee!
It wasn’t just anniversaries that were marked in such a way.
Nowadays it’s fairly common for a woman to either keep her maiden name when married, or double barrel it for her children.
Wind things back and such a practise was socially unacceptable; when you married you took your husband’s surname and that was that. But there were women who didn’t want to lose that connection.
My boyfriend discovered one of his direct ancestors was named ‘Inman’. After a quick search of marriage record, he discovered the boy had been given his mother’s maiden name.
Likewise my own grandfather was given the name ‘Avery’. My Mum was under the impression it was after his mother’s brother, in fact it was his paternal grandmother’s maiden name.
We should not forget the tradition for naming the occasional child born at sea.
After all, the voyage to a new life in Australia took several months and if your good wife was already expecting before you set off, then there was a chance she would ‘be delivered of a child’ onboard.
When this happened, it was only natural to name the child after the ship itself. Of course, this is fine if your daughter is born on the good ship Martha, but if that ship is called ‘Ostara’, are you really blessing your child, or cursing them?
People like to use the past as an excuse to change the way we behave in the future.
But if we started using any kind of official list, we’d be robbing ourselves of a tradition that many are ignorant of.
Little Gandalf may be quite proud of his name in the future…
If your child really hates their name, they can change it by deed poll when they’re eighteen.
In the mean time at least you can point out ‘Jubilee Frederick’, and remind them that it could have been worse.
via Historical Honey The Unusual History of Unusual Names » Historical Honey.

‘Porridged’.

Porridge
“A Breakfast Dish made with oats, very hot water, salt and stirred becoming a sticky mess generally consumed by the lower classes in England and in Australia.” OR
“A prison sentence in a British Prison, e.g.”doing your porridge”.
Immortalised in the wonderful British TV Comedy “Porridge” starring Ronnie Barker. OR
“In South Australia down at The Old Guv on King William Road, to be porridged meant you had been bollocked by the Boss (told off).
Once the Comps found out you had been porridged they would let YOU know that THEY knew in one way or another about your serve of “porridge”.
John Buckby would sing the old Elvis song “All Shook Up” and change the words to “All Stirred Up” right in front of you. Some would whistle the song.
Others would ask, “What did you have for Breakfast?” “Some Porridge Arsehole?”
And some would simply say, “Serves you fuckin’ right! ” They were the suckholes.
The late Warren Pietsch

The Secret Origins of ‘nerd, geek and dork.’

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Image: Scene from “Revenge of the Nerds” (1984).
Nerd
The word nerd was first used in the 1950 Dr. Seuss book If I Ran the Zoo, in which a nerd was one one of the many oddly named creatures in the titular zoo. According to Ben Zimmer of Vocabulary.com, a 1951 Newsweek article mentioned it as one of the new terms being used by teenagers.
It seems unlikely for teens to have latched on to a single proper noun in a Dr. Seuss book so quickly, but there is no recorded source of the word being used previously.
It’s possible that it was based on the 1940s slang word “nert,” which referred to a stupid or crazy person.
It’s certainly easy to see how teens of the 1950s might co-opt the adults’ term for morons and use it to mean “squares” and people who didn’t understand their culture.
Geek
Geek is actually an old English word meaning freak, imported via the German word “geck,” which could also mean fool.
Circuses in 18th century Austro-Hungary used to advertise their “geeks” as their weirdest human attractions, and the word was often used to refer specifically to those whose act consisted specifically of biting the heads off of live animals.
The word had its resurgence when it was used in the popular 1941 book Nightmare Alley and its equally popular movie adaptation, to refer to such.
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Dork
Most etymologists think that dork is an alteration of the word dick, perhaps coming out of the Midwest, and thus originally meant penis, too.
It was certainly used to mean a penis in the 1961 novel Valhalla, although it was spelled “dorque”; a 1964 article in American Speech confirmed its phallic meaning and spelled the word as “dork.”
It was also used by Charles Schmid, a serial killer known as “The Pied Piper of Tuscon,” who was interviewed in the (then obviously extremely prevalent) Life magazine, in which he was quoted saying “I didn’t have any clothes and I had short hair and looked like a dork.
Girls wouldn’t go out with me.” Schmid almost certainly meant “penis” when he said “dork,” but as the word caught on in pop culture it more commonly came to mean people who look uncool and/or odd.
via The secret origins of nerd, dork, and geek.

Dyslexia or Word Blindness.

Photographic Image: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was a very famous person with Dyslexia.
Dyslexia defined by Google search is a: “Developmental reading disorder is a reading disability that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols.” Wow, that is so clinical and precise.
Dyslexia is much more than a learning disability. Yet before the 1900′s, this childhood development was the subject of much conjecture and how children learned was still pretty much theorised.
A plethora of terms was used to describe the problem such as “word blindness” or “strephosymbolia.”
It was 1878 when German neurologist, Adolph Kussmaul, coined the phrase “word blindness” describing what we know as dyslexia today.
He had a special interest in adults with reading problems who also had neurological impairment.
He noticed that several of his patients could not read properly and regularly used words in the wrong order. He introduced the term ‘word blindness’ to describe their difficulties.
The phrase, word blindness, then began to be used regularly in the medical journals to describe adults and children who had difficulty learning to read.
This phrase also conveyed the fact that these patients were neurologically impaired. ~ Understanding Dyslexia: A Guide for Teachers and Parents: The history of dyslexia
In 1887, a German opthalmologist, Rudolf Berlin, was the first to use the word ‘dyslexia’ but it wasn’t widely used or accepted to replace the “word blindness” as of yet.
It’s like Manic Depressive Disorder perfectly describes the condition… Whereas Bipolar Disorder took a while to catch on. Seems the same was true for “word blindness” that perfectly describes dyslexia, where we skipped words, suffixes and endings.
“Dyslexia appeared in 1891 with a report in The Lancet medical journal by Dr Dejerne.”
Ah, ha just when you think Dyslexia would go mainstream:
“Dr James Hinshelwood, a Scottish eye surgeon, published an account of a patient who had reading difficulties and also a congenital defect in the brain related to eyesight.
From this evidence, he concluded that the cause of reading difficulties was a malfunction of eyesight as a result of a brain defect.
Dr Hinshelwood’s work reinforced the use of the term word blindness and this phrase persisted throughout the early twentieth century.”
Read further via The History Of Dyslexia | Mental Health Humor.

The ‘Fair Dinkum’ Aussie Accent.

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Nino Culotta (Walter Chiari) gets a lesson in the language of drinking from a friendly Australian (Jack Allen) at the Marble Bar, a legendary Sydney watering hole. The barmaid (Anne Haddy) looks bemused. From the Australian  film “They’re a Wierd Mob”. (1966)
by Alyce Taylor
How did “G’day mate” become the sound of home for millions of people
THE ORIGINS OF the Australian-English accent are veiled in myth and Aussie legend: from pollen levels being behind our nasal twang, to the idea that we mumble to stop flies entering our mouths.
Now, a project called Australian Voices is listening to voice recordings and aiming to collect 1000 past and present Australian-English accents, to learn more about what’s behind the Australian drawl.
“Language is a marker of social identity and so people speak like the people they either aspire to be like, or want to be with,” says Dr Felicity Cox, an associate professor of linguistics at Macquarie University, Sydney. Felicity and her colleague, Dr Sallyanne Palethorpe, are the drivers behind Australian Voices.
A person’s accent changes slowly after their early teenage years, so voice recordings provide a snapshot of their origins, and information about their childhood social environment.
This means that old recordings of elderly people are particularly interesting: listening to the voices of 1950s grandparents gives researchers such as Felicity an insight into accents as far back as the 1870s. She also gets to hear some great stories.
“A few of them talk about Ned Kelly, actually,” says Felicity. “One gentleman recounts a conversation with Ned Kelly’s sister in a pub.”
Distinctive features of the Aussie accent
The Australian accent is famous for its vowel sounds, absence of a strong “r” pronunciation and the use of an inflection – or intonation – at the end of sentences, which can make statements sound like questions.
According to Felicity, the way vowels are pronounced is the most peculiar feature of Australian English.
“There’s a story of a lady who was told she was going home ‘to die’,” recalls Felicity. “But what she was actually doing was going home ‘today’.”
Felicity believes the Australian accent began with the first Australia-born colonial children in Sydney in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
They’d have strengthened their bonds as a group by speaking in similar ways, in the same way today’s teens use language to form tribes.
The early colonial children would have drawn on the many British accents spoken by adults around them to create their sound.
Follow on via Knowing the Aussie accent – Australian Geographic.