Posted in Did You Know ?, From The Editor's Desk, Language, Words

Language: Alumnus, Alumni, Alumna, and Alumnae

Today’s Lunchbox Lesson: ALUMNUS, ALUMNI, ALUMNA, and ALUMNAE

These words all describe attending or graduating from a particular school, but they differ in number and gender. Here’s how it works:

ALUMNUS: a singular noun referring to one male attendee
ALUMNI: a plural noun referring either to a group male attendees or to a mixed group of both male and female attendees (but not *only* female attendees)
ALUMNA: a singular noun referring to one female attendees
ALUMNAE: a plural noun referring to a group of only female attendees

Alumnus means “pupil,” or “nursling” in Latin. This is where it gets interesting! The Latin term for a former school is “alma mater,” meaning “nourishing mother.” Thus, an alumnus can be seen as the “nourished one/pupil” of the “nourishing mother,” the school.

These words are Latin “loanwords,” meaning they preserve their original forms when we use them. The difficulty arises because many Americans have not taken Latin, so they are unfamiliar with Latin forms (i.e. genders and plurals). As a result, the words are often used incorrectly.

One fairly popular trend is to avoid using these specific words altogether. Instead, the word ALUM is used for the singular and ALUMS is used for a group. These constructions avoid the possibility of using the Latin words incorrectly. It is considered acceptable for casual writing and conversation, but it is not acceptable (yet) for formal writing. It’s best if you can try to remember the Latin words — and you’ll look smarter too!

Posted in Editor Notes, Language, Word Wednesday, Words

Thursday Word of the Day: Lemma

lemma
[lem-uh]

noun

In morphology and lexicography, a lemma (plural lemmas or lemmata) is the canonical form, dictionary form, or citation form of a set of words (headword). In English, for example, run, runs, ran and running are forms of the same lexeme, with run as the lemma. Lexeme, in this context, refers to the set of all the forms that have the same meaning, and lemma refers to the particular form that is chosen by convention to represent the lexeme.

lemma

In lexicography, this unit is usually also the citation form or headword by which it is indexed. Lemmas have special significance in highly inflected languages such as Arabic, Turkish and Russian.

The process of determining the lemma for a given word is called lemmatisation.

The lemma can be viewed as the chief of the principal parts, although lemmatisation is at least partly arbitrary.

dictionaryguideword

So, in short … A lemma is the dictionary term for the word you’re looking up. If you were to look up the word “jumping” in an English dictionary, you wouldn’t find it as a headword. What you would find is “jump,” the word that represents “jump,” “jumping,” “jumped,” and “jumps.” In this case “jump” is the lemma.

 

 

 

 

 

Editor Note: “The More You Know…”
>> Took a linguistics class in college, and decided to share the craziness running around my head tonight. Enjoy!
PS: Sorry this isn’t Word Wednesday… SURPRISE.. it’s WORD THURSDAY?

 

Posted in Language, Ted Talks, Writing, YouTube

10 TED Talks for Writers … on creativity, process, storytelling, and passion

 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story

Andrew Stanton: The Clues to a Great Story

Amy Tan: Where does Creativity Hide?

John Koenig: Beautiful New Words to Describe Obscure Emotions

Tracy Chevalier: Finding the Story Inside the Painting

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius

Pico Iyer: Where is Home?

Isabel Allende: Tales of Passion

Elif Shafak: The Politics of Fiction

Joshua Prager: Wisdom from Great Writers on Every Year of Life


What are TED Talks?

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Language, Word Wednesday

Guinness World Records Words

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Guinness World Records 
Words

 

Note From the Editor’s Desk:

I enjoyed researching this so much that I decided to give you, the readers, a Word Wednesday Lagniappe.

 

Longest English word consisting of only vowels

Euouae — Medieval musical term which indicates the vowels of the syllables of “seculorum Amen,” which ends the “Gloria Patri.”

Longest English word with letters arranged in alphabetical order

Aegilops —  1) A genus of goatgrass;  2) Stye in inner corner of eye

Shortest word in the English language that contains all five vowels

Eunoia — “beautiful thinking” or denotes a normal mental state.

Longest English word consisting strictly of alternating consonants and vowels

Honorificabilitudinitatibus —“With honorableness” (a nonsense word from medieval literature).

Longest English word in which each letter occurs at least twice

Unprosperousness — The state or condition of being unprosperous.

Longest English word with only one vowel

Strengths — The quality or state of being strong, in particular.

Longest English word with letters arranged in reverse alphabetical order

Spoonfeed — Feed (someone) by using a spoon, or provide (someone) with so much help or information that they do not need to think for themselves.

Guinness World Records and image ©Guiness World Records