The Fascinating History Of Quotation Marks

>The Fascinating History Of Quotation Marks | www.eklectica.in
The punctuation mark is a storied character. Its family tree extends all the way back to the second century BC, when its earliest ancestor sprang into being at the ancient Library of Alexandria. The so-called diple, or “double,” was an arrow-shaped character (>) named for the two strokes of the pen required to draw it, and it was just one of a clutch of proofreading marks devised by a librarian named Aristarchus to help edit and clarify the library’s holdings.

More about this in Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks.

Writing and punctuation were fundamentally and permanently changed by the invention of movable type. Time-consuming luxuries such as hand-painted illustrations and elaborate, decorative marks of punctuation fell victim to the economies of scale enabled by this new means of production.

Quotations were rendered in alternative typefaces, enclosed in parentheses, or called out by means of non-typographic methods such as verbs of speaking.

Of late, Britain’s contrarian speech marks seem to be reverting to the once and future norm, and perhaps its ‘technical’ terms will one day do the same. Until that day arrives, take heart that whether you prefer single or double quotation marks, someone, somewhere, will be in agreement with you. The quotation mark, in both its guises, is still in rude health.

Source: Quotation marks: Long and fascinating history includes arrows, diples, and inverted commas




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What Is Weird?

What Is Weird? | eklectica.in
Weird is a wayward word: though it describes a set of singular effects that link the cultural fringe with peculiar personal experiences, it remains an elusive and marginal term.

The roots of weirdness lie in the noun wyrd, an Old English term that pops up in Beowulf and denotes the (usually grim) demands of destiny. The adjective first appears in the phrase weird sisters, which was used by Scottish poets to describe the classical Fates before Shakespeare attached the term to the witches of Macbeth. But Shakespeare’s spelling of weird is, well, a bit weird—“weyrd”, “weyward”, and “weyard” appear in the first folio, but never “weird”. These alternate spellings, again, suggest the term wayward, a word used by Shakespeare to denote the capricious refusal to follow rule or reason.

Source: Weird Shit – Boing Boing




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What Is the World’s Actual Lowest Hanging Fruit?

What Is the World's Actual Lowest Hanging Fruit? | eklectica.in
A linguist and top pomologists attempt to answer what should be a simple inquiry. Oddly enough, the answer brings a complicated tale of devil strawberries, insurance companies, inferior fruit, and the messy line between literal and metaphorical interpretation.

Source: What Is the World’s Actual Lowest Hanging Fruit? – Pacific Standard: The Science of Society




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Ish: How a suffix became an independent word

Ish: How a suffix became an independent word | eklectica.in
The canonical use of -ish is as a suffix meaning “approximately,” as in bluish, tallish, sixish, or even hungry-ish. This is the definition—the only definition—that you’ll find in Merriam-Webster, which notes that -ish derives from the Old English -isc, of Germanic origin, which in turn is related to similar such suffixes in Dutch (-isch) and Greek (-iskos).

For centuries now, -ish has been rather promiscuous in English, attaching to a wide variety of words and even phrases.

Source: Ish: How a suffix became an independent word, even though it’s not in all the dictionaries yet




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Why Does “Terrible” Mean Bad and “Terrific” Mean Good?

Why Does “Terrible” Mean Bad and “Terrific” Mean Good? | eklectica.in
Terrible and terrific are both formed off the same root: terror. Both started out a few hundred years ago with the meaning of terror-inducing. But terrific took a strange turn at the beginning of the 20th century and ended up meaning really great, not terrible or terror-inducing at all.

This happened through a slow reshaping of the connections and connotations of terrific. First it acquired the sense, not just of terror-inducing but of general intensity. You could talk about a “terrific clamor,” meaning a whole lot of clamor. This was a bit of hyperbole—“so much noise it was terror-inducing!”—that eventually got reduced to a general sense of “more intense than usual.

Source: Why Does “Terrible” Mean Bad and “Terrific” Mean Good? | Mental Floss




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The Origins of Office Speak

The Origins of Office Speak | eklectica.in
Over time, different industries have developed their own tribal vocabularies. Some of today’s most popular buzzwords were created by academics who believed that work should satisfy one’s soul; others were coined by consultants who sold the idea that happy workers are effective workers. The Wall Street lingo of the 1980s all comes back to “the bottom line,” while the techie terms of today suggest that humans are creative computers, whose work is measured in “capacity” and “bandwidth.” Corporate jargon may seem meaningless to the extent that it’s best described as “bullshit,” but it actually reveals a lot about how workers think about their lives.

Source: The Origins of Office Speak – The Atlantic






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Wonk erom tuoba Semordnilap

Wonk erom tuoba Semordnilap | eklectica.in
“Semordnilap” is a word playfully coined by word-game lovers some time in the mid 20th century. While a palindrome reads the same way backwards or forwards (otto, kayak), a semordnilap (itself a semordnilap of “palindromes”) makes a completely different word when spelled backwards. While there are some semordnilaps that arose by chance (desserts-stressed, diaper-repaid), there are many, like “semordnilap,” that were created on purpose, usually to not-so-covertly hint at the words they happen to be reversing. Here are 9 words, besides semordnilap, expressly built to be semordnilaps.

Source: 9 Words Created by Spelling Other Words Backwards | Mental Floss




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36 Unexpected Origins Of Everyday British Phrases

>36 Unexpected Origins Of Everyday British Phrases | eklectica.in
Back to Square One – meaning back to the beginning, originated in the 1930s when the first radio broadcasts of football matches were made by the BBC.

To help listeners keep track of the game, The Radio Times devised a numbered grid system which they published in the magazine, enabling commentators to indicate to listeners exactly where the ball was on the pitch.

“Square One” was the goalkeeper’s area, and whenever the ball was passed back to him, play was referred to as being ‘back to square one’.

Source: 36 Unexpected Origins Of Everyday British Phrases




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Netiquette of Capitalization: How Caps Became Code for Yelling

Netiquette of Capitalization: How Caps Became Code for Yelling | eklectica.in
Typing in all caps is Internet code for shouting, and it is rude.

People have long used capital letters to set text apart and convey its importance, but upper case letters haven’t always signified loudness. The first bloggers may be responsible for that development: Linguist Ben Zimmer pointed me to old “Usenet newsgroups”—the precursors of the forums and Reddit threads that dominate the Internet today—where people hashed out what capital letters would mean online. In 1984, one user had to explain: “if it’s in caps i’m trying to YELL!”

Source: Netiquette of Capitalization: How Caps Became Code for Yelling | New Republic




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