What's in a Word?

Pondering word play and power in The Daily Sentinel

Page 104 of 132


When less is considered more

By Debra Dobbins
Wednesday, February 9, 2011


The clever spider is taking his inspiration from a movement started in the 1960s in art, dance and music. Minimalism calls for an artist to use “only the simplest design, structure [or] forms,” according to Webster’s.

"Free Ride," a sculpture by American artist Tony Smith, is an example of minimalist art. 

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

 

 

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Titans then and now

By Debra Dobbins
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Greek mythology is full of larger-than-life figures, which is one reason it continues to fascinate us. To give a few examples, there was Heracles (Hercules to the Romans), who performed 12 incredible labors, and there was Atlas, who held the heavens on his shoulders,

Atlas was the son of Iapetus, one of 12 gigantic gods called Titans who descended from Gaia and Uranus, the earliest rulers of the universe.

The story of the Titans reminds us that family feuds go way back. They were overthrown by the next generation, the Olympians, led by Zeus. The Olympians apparently did their best to rid the universe of the Titans and some of their offspring, but a few, such as Prometheus and Atlas, managed to survive.

The Titans were known for their colossal size and power. Hence, the word “titan” has been used for a legendary ship (the RMS Titanic), the largest of Saturn’s satellites, U.S. space missiles and, lest we forget, the Tennessee Titans. You may read about Mike Munchak, this football team's new coach, in today’s print edition or e-edition.

Illustration courtesy of Wikipedia

photo of the last Titan missile launched (in 2005) courtesy of Wikipedia

As promised yesterday, here are the action verbs in the captions of the Super Bowl photos: await; sacks and earned; and hugs. (In the Zombo photo caption, "was" is also a verb, but it is a linking verb.)

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Dousing undoubtedly deserved

By Debra Dobbins
Monday, February 7, 2011

When is a dousing a coveted honor? It’s an honor, indeed a joy, when your team wins the Super Bowl.

The Packers coach, Mike McCarthy, cannot be considered inexperienced or “wet behind the ears,” but Sunday T.J. Lang made sure that physically McCarthy was exactly that. (See the photo below.)

The verb “douse” goes far back in our language’s history. Webster’s says it was 16th century slang that probably came from the Middle Dutch word, dossen, defined as “to beat noisily.” It is no surprise, then, to learn from Webster’s that the first English meaning of douse was “to hit forcefully.”

Webster’s lists other definitions that include to lower sails, to quickly put out something such as a fire or light, to pull off items such as shoes or clothing, or to drench. The last definition is how the word is used in the caption below.

Douse is considered an action verb. Can you find other action verbs in the captions below the photo of McCarthy and Lang? The answers will appear tomorrow.

If the photos whet your curiosity to read more about the big game, the first three sports pages in today’s print or e-edition are packed with stats and even more pics.

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Phil’s ironic prediction

By Debra Dobbins
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Today is Groundhog’s Day, a quirky American celebration of Punxsutawney Phil.

Phil popped up all over today’s paper. He was on the front page, in an editorial cartoon and in two strips on the comic page. Also, Dave Buchanen passed along some interesting groundhog facts on page B1. You can read Buchanen’s article in our print or e-edition.

Phil got his first name from the town in Pennsylvania that annually holds a ceremony with him as the star attraction. According to legend, Phil emerges in early February. If he sees his shadow, we have six more weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow, we’ll have an early spring.

I’m not sure what the answer is to the question in the cartoon above, but it is a timely one.  A massive winter storm is slamming one-third of our nation.

Ironically, Phil did not see his shadow this morning, indicating an early spring. Tell that to the hapless souls who see their cars encased in ice and their streets obliterated by snow.

Hypothermia, by the way, is composed of two Greek word parts. “Hypo” means under, and “therm” means heat. (Think of what a thermometer measures.) So, hypothermia is a subnormal body temperature, according to Webster’s.  Oh, and succumbs means to submit or, in this case, to die.

News reports say that a smaller crowd turned out today to learn Phil’s forecast. If folks were worried about running the risk of hypothermia and decided to stay inside, we can empathize. Our high today is only supposed to hit 15 degrees. On the bright side, our cars are accessible and our streets dry. Let’s send warm thoughts eastward; folks there need them.

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Short month/long history

By Debra Dobbins
Tuesday, February 1, 2011


February comes from februa, the Roman festival of purification, which was held on the 15th of the month.

According to Wikipedia, February was the last month of the year until 450 BC when it gained its current ranking as the second. Prior to 450 BC, Mars was the official start of the year, which is why September, at first the seventh month and now the ninth, gained its name. (Septem in Latin meant seven.)

Februar by Leandro Bassano, courtesy of Wikipedia


 

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Page 104 of 132




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