Monday, July 13, 2009

What's in a Word?

I love the English Language.
I am glad I was born in America, and learned to speak English as child. My native-tongue is not an easy language to learn, comprised of myriad origins in Latin, French, German, Greek…and lately, additional influences from other corners of the world.

The people at Merriam-Webster have recently added more than 100 entries to the latest edition of their Collegiate Dictionary, none of which apparently hearken from behind the Pine Curtain of East Texas. Still, some of the more interesting words are worth noting, even using in polite conversation.

Work some of these into your water-cooler talk today, and amaze your friends:

Carbon footprint—defined as “the negative impact that something (as a person or business) has on the environment; specifically: the amount of carbon emitted by something during a given period.”
So far, the closest synonym (which most accurately describes those who are constantly concerned about carbon footprints) is “gasbag.”

Cardioprotective, obviously calls into mind something “serving to protect the heart.” You will not hear this word used in any episode of “The Bachelorette.”

Earmark has found its way into the dictionary as “a provision in Congressional legislation that allocates a specified amount of money for a specific project, program, or organization.”
By way of practical example, earmarks may be used to promote industries or behaviors that impact carbon footprints, as defined above, and are one of the primary focuses of gasbags.

Frenemy is “one who pretends to be a friend but is actually an enemy.” I think this is a stupid and uneccessary word. Just as “the friend of my enemy is my friend,” an enemy who acts as a friend is still an enemy, and doesn’t deserve a special word; much less a special entry in a dictionary. Any questions?

Green-collar, which describes a job “of, relating to, or involving actions for protecting the natural environment,” must be legit now. It’s also in the dictionary. Such jobs will most likely be funded by earmarks advocated by gasbags, which may be masquerading as economic frenemies.

Haram—a newcomer from across the ocean: pertains to foods that are forbidden by Islamic law. Not to be confused with Harem, which are forbidden everywhere except in some parts of Utah.

Locavore is “one who eats foods grown locally whenever possible,” which could arguably be applied to denizens living behind the Pine Curtain who never venture beyond HWY 59 for forrage (look it up.)

Memory foam is (duh!) “a dense polyurethane foam that becomes more pliable when in contact with heat.” We need a dictionary entry for this? Can memory foam develop Alzheimer’s? Why don’t they put memory elastic in waistbands? Obviousy, issues for next year’s Dictionary edition.

Missalette is an older word, which is defined as “a shortened form of a missal published periodically for congregational use.” Not to be confused with North Korean weapons of minimal distruction.

Shawarma is another entry into the food category—it’s “a sandwich, esp. of sliced lamb or chicken, vegetables, and often tahini wrapped in pita bread.” Can’t wait to see Jack don a sari or a burqua and start hawking these on TV.
Or Subway: “Five. Five-dollar. Five-Dollar Sha-war-maaaaahhhh…”

Staycation is “a vacation spent at home or nearb,” typically with a laptop perched between your thighs, a cold beverage within arm’s reach, and the TV remote closeby. We Americans are so predictably descriptive.

Vlog is simply “a blog that contains video material.”
The next pop content critic will likely be known as “Vlog the Impaler.”

Waterboarding has been a popular term in the news of late, referring to “an interrogation technique in which water is forced into a detainee's mouth and nose so as to induce the sensation of drowning.” Congress is upset the CIA may have been using this technique on our enemies and frenemies. The truth is, taxpayers have been experiencing this sensation for years.

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