Three miscellaneous items that came past my eyes this morning: the delicious word fissiparous in the Economist; crash blossoms on the A.Word.A.Day site; and a festival of abbreviations on the Transstellar Journal Publications and Research Consultancy Private Limited site.
Fissiparous. In the Economist of 3/24/12, p. 59, a story on the Archbishop of Canterbury:
The worst job in the world
Rowan Williams’s successor will have an even harder tenure
That’s the double-iamb adjective fissiparous ‘inclined to cause or undergo division into separate parts or groups’ (NOAD2), a word you don’t get a chance to use very often, though it has many applications in the domain of religion.
There’s a well-known (and possibly made-up) newspaper headline:
Teacher Strikes Idle Kids
What’s going on here? Is it a case of teachers hitting indolent students or of teachers asking for better wages? It’s an instance of the malleability of the language that some words can act like one of those flip animations: what you see depends on what angle you see it from. In the above headline words take either of two roles (strike: noun/verb, idle: verb/adjective).
Here are a couple of other examples:
Reagan Wins on Budget, But More Lies Ahead
British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands
Newspaper editors often have to come up with succinct headlines at short notice. You can’t fault them for having a little fun on the job. This week is your chance to play being a newspaper editor. All the words to be featured in A.Word.A.Day this week have meanings in more than one part of speech.
Bonnie and I are particularly taken with the waffles on the Falklands.
The words of the week so far: paragon, countenance, gloze, tarry, bluff. Countenance and bluff are straightforward. For tarry, the ambiguity is visual only; the verb and the tar-derived adjective have different pronunciations (as well unrelated histories). But gloze? Well, yes, there’s a verb ‘make excuses for’, but it’s rare, and there are noun uses, but one (‘a comment or marginal note, a gloss’) is archaic and the others (‘flattery, deceit; flattering speech’, ‘pretence, false show, specious appearance’) are rare, so gloze is mostly of interest to people who savor odd and infrequent vocabulary.
And paragon? You might come up with noun uses only, but the noun has been verbed, as a transitive ‘to compare, parallel, rival, surpass’, as in this 1901 quote from Edith Wharton:
The Cavaliere … paragoned her in his song to all the pagan goddesses of antiquity.
OED3 (June 2005) marks all the uses of the verb as rare, archaic, poetic, or obsolete; its most recent cite is the very poetic:
1903 A. Austin Flodden Field i. 43 What, forsooth, is love, Dainty, delicious pastime though it be, When paragoned with statecraft or with war?
So don’t expect to find any crash blossoms involving paragon.
Abbreviations run amok. Now to the wonders of Transstellar Journal Publications and Research Consultancy Private Limited (TJPRC). Hard to beat the name; transstellar in this context is positively bombastic. (There is a TransStellar Shipping Co., which ships to almost anywhere but not, I think, beyond the stars. There’s also a TransStellar comic and a TransStellar science fiction game, but that’s only to be expected.) TJPRC, headquartered in India, is
a privately held company, dedicated to the global dissemination of information through an unparalleled commitment to quality, reliability, and innovation. As of today, we are one of the leading national and international journal publishers and distributors of our research journals and serve more than 10 million scientists, research scholars, educational institutions, governmental bodies, corporate, scientific and engineering libraries and private research firms across the globe. In addition to the research paper publications, company also provides consultancy to research projects for various government bodies, research agencies etc and also assists Ph.D., scholars in their research papers and dissertations.
The company publishes more journals than you can shake a stick at, including the International Journal of English and Literature. I can’t vouch for the content, but the firm certainly doesn’t lack for ambition and self-promotion. Nor does its Founder Managing Director and Chief Editorial Officer:
Ln. Prof. Dr. Manivannan Sethuraman, B.Tech (Chem)., D.E.M., D.T.Tech., A.M.S.P.I., M.B.A., M.S. (Software Systems), P.M.P (PMI, USA)., F.M.S.P.I., Q.P.M.P. (IPMA, Switzerland), S.C.E.A. (Sun Microsystems, USA), M.I.E., W.C.P.(BEA Systems, USA), C.S.Q.A.(QAI, USA), F.M.I.P.M.A., S.C.J.P.(Oracle Corporation, USA), F.M.I.A.E.M.E., Ph.D.
A mixture of academic titles and job titles, many of them opaque to me. Most notably Ln. Prof., which I haven’t been able to interpret, though it occurs as a title for a number of other South Asians, for example
Ln. Prof. Dr. M. Khalequzzaman, Director, Institute of Biological Sciences at University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh
I was irresistably reminded of the Highly Magnified Woggle-Bug,
a character in the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. He first appears in the book The Marvelous Land of Oz in 1904. He goes by the name H. M. Woggle-Bug, T.E. (Highly Magnified and Thoroughly Educated). In later books, Woggle-Bug was sometimes spelled “Wogglebug.” (link to Wikipedia)
A little more on H. M. Woggle-Bug, T. E.:
When the Woggle-bug is first introduced in The Marvelous Land of Oz, he is portrayed as having a charming disposition and a quirky and somewhat eccentric personality. He has a love of big words, Latin phrases, philosophy, and colorful puns relating to his immediate situation (“Were I to ride upon this sawhorse he would not only be an animal, he would become an equipage for he would then be a horse and buggy”)… Puns have been regarded as a sign of superior education and Baum uses the Woggle-Bug’s puns repeatedly to highlight his conceitedness regarding his own education.
I have no information on whether Ln. Prof. Dr. Manivannan Sethurama is inclined to punning.