What's in a Word?

Pondering word play and power in The Daily Sentinel

Page 100 of 127


Mush on!

By Debra Dobbins
Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mushers is a fun word that describes men and women who ride on sleds pulled by dogs. Sometimes, to give the dogs a break, mushers run behind their sleds.

Mushers comes from the interjection, mush. That interjection is an order for dogs to start pulling or to run faster.

Mush is a shorter version of the command, mush on. Those two words, according to Webster’s, came from the French word, marchon, which means let’s go.

I hope many folks mush on up to the mesa to see the fifth annual Rocky Mountain High Sled Dog sprints this Saturday and Sunday. It seems like a great activity as winter begins to slowly give way to spring. Before we know it, we’ll be sweltering in the “dog days” of summer.

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Just remember: boys fan

By Debra Dobbins
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The conjunction is a handy part of speech. It lets us link words, phrases and sentences together to make our speech AND writing a little bit more sophisticated.

There are three types of conjunctions: coordinating, subordinate AND correlative. The most common of them is the coordinating conjunction.

English has eight coordinating conjunctions. We can remember them with the sentence, “Boys fan.”

B but
O or
Y yet
S so

F for
A and
N nor

The other parts of speech are the noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, adjective, preposition and interjection. All eight parts of speech help us not only understand English, but to grasp other languages, as well.
 

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The Super Bowl rivalry for ‘water rights’

By Debra Dobbins
Monday, January 24, 2011

The rivalry is now official: The Packers will face the Steelers in the Super Bowl Feb. 6 in Dallas.

As the headline above notes, the Packers had to vanquish a NFC rival, the Chicago Bears, to gain the rights to compete against an AFC rival, the Steelers.

The word “rival” comes from a Latin word meaning neighbors who shared the use of a small stream. Human nature being what it is, somewhere in time someone must have wanted more than his fair share of water, and thus a competition began.

In two weeks only one head coach may get the “honor” of being doused with water as his players celebrate their victory. If the final score is too lopsided, the other head coach may be upstream without a paddle.

 

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A French twist to phonics

By Debra Dobbins
Friday, January 21, 2011

The internal rhyme in the headline above is a bit unusual. Can the vowels “eau” really rhyme with the long “o” in go? Yes, in a few words, they can.

LeBeau is a French name. It is pronounced “leh bow" (as in bow and arrow). In French these three letters often have the long o sound.

English has imported a number of French words that end this way. Examples include:

beau     - a male sweetheart
bureau - a dresser, an agency or a government department
plateau - a tableland or mesa (Grand Mesa is a plateau.)
tableau - “a striking, dramatic scene or picture” (Webster’s)

We also have chapeau (hat) and nouveau (new).

The story on Dick LeBeau notes how much the Pittsburgh Steelers respect their defensive coordinator. Check out what they have to say about him in today’s print edition or e-edition.

 


 

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Poetry in just 17 syllables

By Debra Dobbins
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Originating in Japan, haiku poetry is now popular in many countries of the world.

The traditional English version of haiku requires that the poem be three lines. The first line should contain five syllables, the second should have seven, and the last line  should have five, for a total of 17 syllables. The subject of haiku is often nature.

Today I challenged myself to write a haiku, so here's one on the Colorado National Monument:

      Enduring layers
of sediment mutely note
  the vastness of time
 

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