Showing posts with label grammar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grammar. Show all posts

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Word Guy with Rob Kyff

This Column Is Just Dessert

Pop quiz! See whether you can select the correct word in each context:

1. At the end of the novel, the cruel villain got his just (deserts, desserts).
2. The two armadas engaged in a fierce (naval, navel) battle.
3. The threat of icebergs caused the ship to (shear, sheer) off course.
4. When the mayor announced the curfew, a loud (hew, hue) and cry arose from the crowd.
5. The stern teacher insisted that his students (toe, tow) the line.
6. The prosecutor portrayed the defendant as an (arrant, errant) liar.
7. Your figures don't seem to (gibe, jibe) with mine.
8. Tom's (principle, principal) concern was the enormous cost of the project.
9. Sally's friends considered her to be very (straight-laced, strait-laced).
10. Henry placed the golf trophy on his fireplace (mantel, mantle). ----

1. deserts -- One meaning of "desert" is something deserved or merited. "Dessert" means sweet food eaten after a meal.
2. naval -- "Naval" means relating to ships or the Navy. "Navel" means the belly button.
3. sheer -- "Shear" means to cut through something as if with a sharp instrument. "Sheer" means to deviate from a course, swerve.
4. hue -- "Hew" means to cut down or shape. Today, "hue" means color, but an old meaning of "hue" -- outcry, uproar -- survives in the phrase "hue and cry."
5. toe (unless the teacher was ordering them to pull a rope) -- "Toe the line" means to adhere conscientiously to the rules. "Tow the line" means to haul a rope.
6. arrant -- "Arrant" means complete, thoroughgoing. "Errant" means roving, straying, wandering.
7. jibe -- "Jibe" means to be consistent with or in accord with. "Gibe" means a derisive remark or taunt.
8. principal -- "Principal" means chief or most important. "Principle" means a rule or standard. 9. strait-laced -- "Straight" means not bent, level, direct. "Strait" means tight, confining. 10. mantel -- A "mantel" is a shelf or other structure over or around a fireplace. A "mantle" is a cloak or something that covers, envelops or conceals.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Vocabulary from Rob Kyff

Hello everyone!!Just wanted to share this one....guess it's quite interesting to add to your vocabulary...Anyway I will be out to visit a friend tomorrow to spend a New year there till a week..I will try to update my blog if I have time..I wish everyone a happy and blessed New Year!! Have some fun!! Best regards!!!

When Nouns Become Adverbs

"I don't stay up nights worrying," said John Lennon in 1965. "Summers I used to cover Missouri," wrote Thornton Wilder in 1934. "I went over there afternoons," wrote Ernest Hemingway in 1929.

Why do we sometimes use nouns -- "nights," "summers" and "afternoons" -- as adverbs like this? In fact, this usage is a linguistic fossil, a remnant from the early history of English.

Today we use the genitive case of a noun to indicate possession, as in "night's coolness" or "summer's warmth." But in Old English, the genitive case could also indicate that a noun or adjective was being used as an adverb.

In Old English, the genitive was formed by adding "-es" to a word. (It wasn't until the 1600s that printers started replacing the "e" with an apostrophe.)

So the genitive of the Old English adjective "daeg" (day), for instance, was "daeges," which had not only the possessive meaning "of the day," but also the adverbial meanings "during the day," "on the day" and "what happens in daeges, stays in daeges."

(A "missing link" between the possessive genitive and the adverbial genitive can be found in archaic adverbial phrases, such as "of a day" ("during the day") and "of nights" ("during the nights"). William Shakespeare uses the latter construction when his character Julius Caesar praises "fat, sleek-headed men . . . such as sleep o' nights.")

Adverbial genitives, though lean and hungry, still survive in modern English. That's why we say, "I work days," meaning "I work by day," as well as "I leave early most Saturdays," "Winters I go to Florida," and "Sunday mornings I like to sleep late."

This practice of adding an "s" sound to a noun or adjective to indicate its use as an adverb also lives on in the non-standard folk formations "somewheres," "anywheres" and "nowheres," and in standard adverbs such as "nowadays," "unawares," "sideways," "backwards," "onwards," "upwards," "afterwards" and "towards."

Those last five "-ward" words were formed by tacking on the suffix "-es" to the Old English adjectives "backweard," "onweard," "upweard," "afterweard" and "toweard," and both forms of these words still survive -- "backward/backwards," "upward/upwards," etc.

Other ghosts of the adverbial genitive are "once," "twice" and "thrice." In these words the modern "-ce" spelling reflects the original "-es" spelling.

One last question: If John Lennon didn't stay up nights worrying, why did he sing about "a hard day's night"?

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