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Oxford English Dictionary and then some

The Oxford English Dictionary has just come out with its quarterly revisions and additions.  Some nine hundred new words and phrases have now been deemed worthy to grace its pages, some of them pretty far out there.  How often do you wish to know the meaning of Empedoclean? ( Don’t go there.  It’s about some Greek philosopher dude named Empedocles who posited  the theory that all matter was made up of four elements—earth, air, fire, water—and has morphed into a new Empedoclean Evolution theory where change is caused by attraction and repulsion.  It is also connected—somehow—to a so-called Project Mayhem featuring—would I make this up?—Chaos and Pain.   Sounds attractive, eh?)

Anyway…some prime examples include crap shoot, bathroom break, death stare( a specialty of the disgusted…and mothers), vacay, wackadoo and wackadoodle.  The definition for the term scintilla juris is just about the nth degree of legal jargon & gobbledygook, clear as mud.  The section of “C” words  contains a lengthy “X-rated” portion.  Also interesting was the term “dead white male”, DWM, a derogatory reference to what used to be considered the bedrock of literary studies—think Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, etc.   Schvitz ( a Russian bath house) was interesting, but whoever wrote the definition that I found peppered it with misspellings.  Tsk, tsk.  The Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus superciliaris) has a cousin called the Coral Scimitar Babbler.  Bet their family reunions are a hoot.  There’s also a fascinating history of the word “toilet”. I was quite taken by the listing of the term “toilet paper” as a verb.

There were  over two dozen words related to honey.

One other interesting note was the mention of  a bunch of what the Oxfordians believe are 15,000-year-old words which have cognates (mother/madre/mutter, night/noche/nacht. etc.) dating back to when we all first stood upright and started to communicate(Hey! Don’t get too close to that mammoth!).  Among these words were black, hand, fire, we, worm and spit.  Spit???

One other lasting word on display last weekend, was  “to give”, which could have been paired with the word “community”.  The OED could have taken pictures as illustration for the word “community” just recently in our neighborhood.

The McBride family lost their home to a fire some weeks ago.  Everyone was safe, even Grandpa Orban, one hundred-five years young, but the house was a goner…and everything in it.  Don’t look for them on the streets or heading off to greener pastures.  The grass around here is just fine, thank you very much.

The James A. Garfield High School student council, advised by Frances Bell, pulled together a benefit spaghetti dinner on Friday in the high school/middle school Commons which was a cheerful, well-attended, cross-generational gathering bringing neighbors and friends from across the district and beyond to demonstrate their affection and support.  Donated baskets from groups and businesses throughout the area were on display and were drawing serious interest as opportunities  to contribute.

The student council members manned—and womanned—the serving line dishing out spaghetti, meatballs, sauce…the works.  Salad, dessert, beverages, cheese, everything was there.  Everyone was happy to do their part.  The McBrides circulated through  the room.  Friends offered help and concern.  It was Community, with a capital “C”.  Nice to see; nice to be a part of.  It wasn’t simply a village, it was ‘way more than that.

The event raised over $1500 and plenty of spirits.

And speaking of spirits, the Saint Patrick’s Day festivities in Garrettsville were pretty up-tempo throughout the day, which was bright,  though cold.  The corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, green beer(invented by a coroner in the Bronx in 1914 who put an iron-based dye used in laundries into the barrels of brew) and regular Guiness got an enthusiastic reception across town and green was the color of the day.  Plenty of music of all sorts.  Bagpipers are an acquired taste for some.  There might even have been some orange around, recognizing the Irish of a northern persuasion.  Gotta love the horses, whatever the holiday.

But you probably missed St. Urho’s Day on the 16th.  Just as St. Patrick is credited with driving the snakes from Ireland, St. Urho was said to have chased the grasshoppers from Finland, thus saving the grape harvest.  Inventors of this holiday have just about as much consideration for the truth as the Blarney Stone—Finland still has grasshoppers and there is no grape crop.  And, while the wearin’ of the green on St. Patrick’s Day has more to do with prevention of being pinched by leprechauns than with the good saint himself (whose color was actually blue)the colors of St Urho –Royal Purple and Nile Green–are as bold as his address to the banished insects : “Heinasirkka, heinasirkka, mene taalta hiiteen!  Easy for you to say(Grasshopper, grasshopper, go from hence to Hell).  St. Patrick gets more press but there’s a metal grasshopper statue in Kaleva, Michigan dedicated to St. Urho.  So there.  Some places with prominent Irish and Finnish populations celebrate BOTH days ( Finns first so the Irish don’t get all of the alcohol).

Saints preserve us!

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