a fascination with words, as they so greatly fascinate me
| Making A Stab At It
I don't know if you are affected the way I am, but I find it really horrid to pick up a piece of writing with great anticipation only to be required immediately to translate sixteen or so acronyms in the first six paragraphs. My feeling is usually just let this thing BE, do I really want to know it? But what can you do if curiosity is devouring you? After all we encounter acronyms every five minutes or so every day and it does seems best to learn to speak the language better than we do and I usually make a stab at it. I make myself say ALOUD every word of the acronym, no fudging.
But it is somewhat irritating if the word is so new it is not in the dictionary, or so old it has been dropped out. When I am filling out a crossword for example, and I don't know what DOT stands for how can I guess what "DOT credential" refers to? My big big big dictionary insists it interprets this set of letters as Department of Transportation! But since the answer was "lic", and nowhere can I find out any definition of "lic" or any acknowledgment that such a word exists, I am UP IN THE AIR, and will continue to be unless I meet someone better informed than I am, or with smarter dictionaries. I finally decided the answer they wanted was the abbreviation of the word "license", that since the DOT (Department of Transportation) had charge of licensing, a "credential" from DOT would be a driver's license, abbreviated as "lic". This would be sensible if "lic" were listed as an abbreviation, but as far as my dictionaries are concerned it is NOT.
I guess I do need a new dictionary. Mr. Big is about eight years old and as fast as the world is turning today that is antediluvian when you consider that new words are being coined by the dozens every minute. It makes me feel afraid to open a BRAND NEW one for fear there will not be a familiar word in it.. Probably "lic" is there though!
As of this morning, dim-witted and trying to sharpen myself up to meet the day, encountered in my crossword puzzle, something I thought I had cornered too, after pursuing it a while: the answer to "Account OD upshot." This was to be answered by another acronym I supposed: three letters beginning with "N".
I certainly should KNOW what the OD stands for, I have heard it often enough, haven't I, but it took me some time to realize it stood for OVERDOSE. Good gravy. What then is the answer when I finally GET it? "NSF". What's THAT? Maybe in small letters it would immediately have come to me ... but strange to say it had not occurred to my Webster's to list it! (But they are hep enough to list OD, so I fully expected to see "NSF" somewhere, isn't that strange). And stranger still they don't know that "od" means "overdraft", and it meant that long before it began to impinge on our consciousness as the junkie's nemesis.
Even if you don't actually live in the world of bouncing checks, if you bank at all you are bound to recognize "nsf" as NOT SUFFICIENT FUNDS, a horrifying way to start a day, so I left the puzzle at once. I liked better the guy who would ask me questions we could really fight over! My Irish instinct for combat at the drop of a hat, I guess
But this crossword puzzle constructor did give me a completely NEW word, "he", "she" or "they". I suppose you know Latin and BRUMAL is something you have a nodding acquaintance with, but not me. I found out it means "wintry" and if this unusually strange weather continues? It might be a really good word to know. Also December 22 can now be BRUMA to me as well as Johnny's birthday and the shortest day of the year. And then the next day I can think : "Brumalis is here ... Now I can think SPRING."
But of course Winter is just beginning on Dec 23. When I was going to school it took endless reminding. FOR ME the first time I could count on several minutes more of day light every day HAD to be the beginning of Spring, and I have always felt a little funny that the beginning of Winter for everybody else was the beginning of Spring for me. Somehow I have felt that in this at least I was one up on everyone else. To me it's logic. But it is not SCIENCE, a very unscientific study. And you know, somehow it seems that all winter long THIS YEAR (your winter) it has just been TRYING to be winter and never succeeded: I wore my twenty pound boots only once.
When I tried out the word Brumal on “Smarty-pants” my little electronic word finder I had to laugh out loud. She declared that not only did she know Brumal she knew nine other words beginning with BRUM, and displayed them. Of them I knew only one, "brume".
"EXAMINED, CROOK-STYLE" not only sounds dumb it is dumb? But I had to laugh anyhow because I knew what was meant. After all in reading one does garner strange usages of ordinary words and I spotted the answer to this right away: I had seen it a hundred thousand times I guess in detective novels where the diamond thief had always thoroughly "CASED the joint" before attempting the heist.
I was also asked if I know a "Renowned Brown", and yes, I did! Remember "Les Brown and his band of Renown?" What is the "meal order catalog", that is kind of easy, but how about "Belle's skin saver" ... parasol ... Mike never admitted the word "umbrella" into his vocabulary, these handy devices were always referred to as parasols, in Texas more used against the sun than the rain. That is where he spent HIS soda-jerk days. so I often think TEXAS when I think of him, and I always think of him when I am struggling to open a "parasol."
So you see, even though I have not even begun to think of breakfast I have already enjoyed half a puzzle and ranged over many a memory and delighted myself no end and also written this letter and talked with Johnny too in the middle of it for at least fifteen minutes.. Guess I am ready to begin my day. The sun is abroad, AND I WILL BE AS SOON AS I CAN GET DRESSED.
AND "... aloha from the bottom of my heart .. " (from what song?) I will have to play Bing Crosby's three cassettes of Hawaiian music to find out! ALOHA means both hello AND good-bye. A really great word to know!