What's in a Word?

Pondering word play and power in The Daily Sentinel

Page 114 of 132


Productive passers

By Debra Dobbins
Thursday, November 18, 2010

Prolific means fruitful or producing a great deal of something. It is often used to describe writers who turn out many books. In this case, it means that Denver’s Kyle Orton and the San Diego Chargers’ Philip Rivers are likely to provide plenty of high-flying action when their teams meet next Monday.

Check out today’s print or e-edition for the rest of the story.

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Sailing into the stars of the universe

By Debra Dobbins
Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reading the headline above reminded me that we English speakers are not the only ones who create words out of Latin/Greek word parts.

Case in point: We took the Latin word part astro for stars and naut for sailor to create astronaut. Russians took the Latin word cosmos, meaning universe, and added it to naut to create cosmonaut. Despite the slight difference in their names, both astronauts and cosmonauts must be highly educated and undergo rigorous training before they earn the right to explore the wonders of our universe.

The full obituary on Allan Sandage, an astronomer who worked with Edwin Hubble, appears below. An interesting word, limning, is in the final sentence. Webster’s says that it can mean to paint or draw or to describe or portray in words.

Below the article are answers to yesterday’s question on action verbs and direct objects.

SUBJECT-ACTION VERB-DIRECT OBJECT
Below are answers to yesterday’s questions. Words in bold indicate subject-action verb-direct object. The last headline contains a compound subject (scans and pat-downs.) It is written in an abbreviated style, because space did not permit using the helping verb “are” in it.

Meis defies his critics
Official rips Sentinel for coverage of his citation
Horse owner denies deal to cut size of her herd
Ritter defends federal health care to business leaders
Airport body scans, pat-downs (are) irritating the traveling public
 

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Where’s the action (verb)?

By Debra Dobbins
Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Today’s front page was replete (see entry of Nov. 8) with action verbs and direct objects in various headlines.

The headline above could also work as a complete sentence. Fruita is the subject, rejects is the action verb and ban is the direct object. OK, OK, since you are anxious to know, smoking is used as an adjective and the prepositional phrase “in city parks” contains a preposition, adjective and noun.

See if you can spot examples of the structure of “subject-action verb-direct object” in the other headlines on the front page. Check tomorrow’s blog for the answers.


 

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A building or a city?

By Debra Dobbins
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A capitol is a building, and a capital is a “city where the seat of government is located,” according to the Associated Press Stylebook. Remembering these sentences may help you keep the two spellings straight:

Montgomery is the capital of Alabama. The city’s first capitol was built in 1847.

Our state capital is, of course, Denver. The Colorado Capitol, not far from the 16th Street Mall, is a beautiful building that is always worth a visit.

The gold-plated dome of the Colorado Capitol symbolizes our state’s “Gold Rush” days.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

 

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A game or a peril?

By Debra Dobbins
Monday, November 15, 2010

Jeopardy’s just a game, right? Or does it mean great danger or peril? Actually, it has meant both since it came into English in the 14th century.

According to www.word-origins.com, the word comes from two Old French words: jeu and parti.

Here’s more of the word's history from the same source: “The semantic focus of jeopardy has changed subtly over the centuries. Originally it meant ‘even chance’, but gambling being the risky business it is, and human nature having a strong streak of pessimism, attention was soon focussed (sic) on the ‘chanciness’ rather than the ‘evenness’, and by the late 14th century jeopardy was being used in its modern sense ‘risk of loss or harm, danger’. The word originated in the Old French expression jeu parti, literally ‘divided play’, hence ‘even chance’. It was to begin with a term in chess and similar board games.”

http://www.word-origins.com/definition/jeopardy.html

Two chess players try to put each other into jeopardy.
 

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Page 114 of 132




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