Roman Calendar

Random Greco-Roman Image

Saturday, August 16, 2008


"Le grands clercs ne sont pas le plus fins" (French saying)
"Cha iad not ro-cleirich as fhearr" (Gaelic saying: "The very learned are not the best"

By Richard K. Munro, MA 2008
YOU have the ability to speak and make language. That’s what sets you apart from animals and other species. You think in words, read with words and write with words. Words are an essential part of what makes you a unique individual. Words are a resource, a source of wisdom and strength.
Improving your vocabulary means DICTION which is learning to use the right word at the right time. Vocabulary is not just knowing a word or recognizing a word. It is learning the connotations (associations implied by the word in addition to its literal meaning) as well as the denotation (dictionary or primary definition. For example the denotation of “ass” or “asses” means merely “any of several hoofed animals related to horses but smaller than donkeys”. But everyone knows an “an ass” is a kind of person who is vain, silly, or aggressively stupid or ridiculous.” That is not a bad word but it has a negative connotation.
Now if I spoke to you in Spanish and said; “Eres un as!”I am not insulting you but complimenting you! “Eres un as!” means you’re an ace or you’re the top! This is a colorful example of a FALSE COGNATE or a word which SOUNDS LIKE or LOOKS like a work in another language but it has a different meaning. This is also an example of the literary expression called a double-entendre which is a word or a phrase which has a double meaning (often somewhat risqué which means suggesting something off color or indelicate). A pun (or paronomasia) is a phrase that deliberately exploits confusion between similar-sounding words for humorous or rhetorical effect.Now we can use the word “ass” in a stronger way such as telling a lazy person to get to work: “Get off your ass!” Here the word means “buttocks” or rear-end or derriere which are all nicer and more polite words than “ass” which often has a negative connotation. But there are even more connotations of the word “ass” and you probably know some but these are too vulgar to be used in polite company. But there is nothing wrong with the word “ass”. It is a perfectly good word if you are talking about farm animals or even now and then a silly, stubborn person. But I would avoid using it too often because it is very insulting or off-color (exhibiting bad manners and bad taste). I would not use it to describe the size or physical attributes of shape of a person, for example. So improving your vocabulary means learning deeper meanings about words you already know or correcting a small error in your comprehension. Improving your vocabulary will improve your memory. Improving your vocabulary will improve your reading efficiency. Improving your vocabulary is a sure way to gain insight into the world around you and also enjoy the world around you!

1) Diction means a) choice of words in writing or speech b) distinctness of pronunciation in speech or singing such as “she has good diction” (meaning she sings or speaks very clearly.)
2) Connotations: the different meanings or associations a word has. The connotation could be negative or positive , imply wealth or poverty, thinness , youth or stoutness or age
3) Denotation means the most specific and direct meaning of a word as opposed to its secondary, associated or figurative meanings.
4) negative connotation means when a word has a negative meaning or attribute.
5) FALSE COGNATES are similar words in different languages (such as Spanish and English) that appear to have a common etymology (historical linguistic origin) (regardless of meaning) but actually do not.
6) A pun (or paronomasia) is a phrase that deliberately exploits confusion between similar-sounding words for humorous or rhetorical effect
Examples: English neck/German Genick and Spanish nuca; English red and Spanish red meaning net.
Compromiso: Meaning a promise, obligation, or commitment, it does not usually convey the sense that one have given up something to reach an agreement. There is no good noun equivalent of "compromise" that would be understood that way out of context, although the verb transigir conveys the sense of giving in to, yielding to, or tolerating another person. Words like hot dog can become lost in translation, and especially since words carry different connotations in different areas; Richard Lederer, an author and professor of English, reports going to Germany and asking a vendor for a heißen Hund (a literal translation of "hot dog"). The vendor broke out laughing, for in German, heißer Hund suggests a dog in heat. has a lot more and any bilingual person should study lists like this but be careful! Even native speakers make mistakes and sometimes use slang!

7) double-entendre which is a word or a phrase which has a double meaning (often somewhat risqué which means suggesting something off color or indelicate). An example of this would be the title of the famous short story, "The Most Dangerous Game", by Richard Connell in which the title can refer both to the "game" (caza mayor) that is most dangerous to hunt, and "game" that is most dangerous to play.

some bilingual puns

A Spaniard who knows very little English walks into a bus station and requests:
"One ticket to Kentucky."
The clerk asks:
"On the bus?"
And the Spaniard replies:
"Onde voy a ir, a Kentucky."
("On the bus" sounds like vulgar Spanish "Onde vas", contraction of "A dónde vas" as pronounced by most Spaniards, which means "where are you going?" The guy replies "Onde voy a ir, a Kentucky" - roughly, "where do you think, to Kentucky!")
A Spanish speaker who knows no English walks into a pharmacy and requests, in Spanish:
"¿Hay ampolletas?"
To which the clerk replies:
"Hello, Mr. Polletas."
("¿Hay ampolletas?", Spanish for "Are there ampoules?", sounds like English "I am Polletas")
A Spanish speaker who knows no English goes into a clothes store in an English-speaking country and wants a garment but doesn't know how to ask for it.
After the manager shows the Spanish speaker every article of clothing in the store, she shows the Spanish speaker a pair of socks, and the Spanish speaker says:
"¡Eso sí que es!" ("That's what it is!") The manager responds:
"If you could spell it all along, why didn't you say so?"
("¡Eso sí que es!" sounds like the English letter sequence "S-O-C-K-S.")
Profesor: ¿Cómo se deletrea 'nariz' en inglés? (How do you spell 'nose' in English?)
Estudiante: No sé. ("No sé" means "I don't know", but it spells out "nose".)

Profesor: ¿Cómo se dice "yo veo dos" en inglés? (How do you say "I see two" in English?)
Estudiante: Ay sí tú , como si supieras inglés. (Yeah right, as if you spoke English.)

No comments: