What's in a Word?

Pondering word play and power in The Daily Sentinel

Page 113 of 127


An albatross for merchants

By Debra Dobbins
Monday, October 18, 2010

 Some stores in downtown Grand Junction were flooded early Saturday. The story ran with the headline “Water, water everywhere.”

The “hed” alludes to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Published in 1798, this narrative poem tells the story of a sea captain who is hit with bad luck during a long sea voyage.

When the mariner kills an albatross, the members of his crew come close to mutiny, because they feel the albatross brought them better fortune.

From this poem, we have the expression “an albatross around your neck,” which means a heavy burden.

The ship eventually becomes becalmed (motionless):

“Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”

The mariner survives to tell his hardships to a stranger he meets upon his return home.

Some of our downtown merchants also have distressing tales now as they figure out the cost of water damage to their establishments. Let’s hope that the flood damage will soon be an albatross lifted off the neck of every merchant affected.


 

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A not-so-merry merry-go-round

By Debra Dobbins
Friday, October 15, 2010

At first I didn’t understand this headline today, because I don’t pay much attention to football.

I do know, though, the importance of quarterbacks, so slowly the word “carousel” began to make sense.

A carousel is also known as a merry-go-round. People jump on and off a merry-go-round as the spirit moves them. The “hed” writer used carousel to suggest that many football teams are experiencing frequent changes in this vital position.

To read the entire story, see today’s print edition or e-edition of The Daily Sentinel. BTW, the word “myriad” means “a great many” in the caption below. 

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Venting one’s spleen

By Debra Dobbins
Thursday, October 14, 2010

 

Words to know before reading the editorial below:

Bilious – in a general sense, bad-tempered or cross, according to Webster’s. It more specifically means having some illness created by a malfunction of the bile or liver.

Adorns – decorates

Caricatures – cartoon depictions of people, usually with one or two features exaggerated

Modicum – small amount

Loathe – hate

Flatulence – gassiness; used in a more general sense in the editorial, it means crudeness

 

Since two words above refer to bodily malfunctions, I can’t resist asking the following questions:

How much should public figures accept “taking a ribbing” before criticism of them “goes below the belt”?

Was the financial backer justified in anonymously “venting his spleen” or should this person “have the backbone” to acknowledge funding the billboard?

Should the billboard’s buyer be given “the cold shoulder” or be lauded for making a “straight from the shoulder” statement?

Is the challenge of balancing our individual First Amendment rights with our social responsibility to disagree respectfully one that we all should “take to heart”?

   

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How are madam and level alike?

By Debra Dobbins
Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A palindrome is a word, phrase or sentence(s) spelled the same both forward and backward. Palindrome comes from a Greek word meaning “running back,” according to Webster’s.

One-word examples include eke, ere, eve, ewe, madam, level, refer and redder. An example of a phrase is top spot, according to thinks.com. The site also lists these sentences, among many others:

Flee, elf! Dot sees Tod. Dee saw a seed. Ma has a ham. Was it a rat I saw?

For more palindromes, visit http://thinks.com/words/palindromes/d.htm
 

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Er or or?

By Debra Dobbins
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A senator is someone who serves in a senate. For example, Republican Ken Buck and Democrat Michael Bennett are “shooting for” the opportunity to represent Colorado in the U.S. Senate. As noted in the caption below, Republican Steve King is running against Democrat Claudette Konola for the Colorado District 7 seat.

The letters “or” in senator form a suffix, a word part that comes at the end of a word. “Or” means someone who does something. We can apply that logic to words such as actor, advisor, conductor, counselor, moderator, narrator, orator and sculptor. A verb morphs into a noun with an “or” ending.

A more common English suffix for someone who does something is “er.” Consider these words: biker, driver, reader, rider, runner, skier, teacher, waiter and writer.

If there is a rule on how to decide whether such words end in “or” or “er,” I haven’t run across it. My advice is to read, read and read some more. If a word is seen often enough, committing it to memory is a snap for good learnors learners.

Republican Steve King and Democrat Claudette Konola flank moderator Jeannie Hicks on Monday evening during their debate in their race for state Senate.
 

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Page 113 of 127




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