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INCUNABULUM

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INCUNABULUM

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:08 am

• incunabulum •


Pronunciation: in-kê-næb-yê-lêm • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun (irregular plural)

Meaning: 1. Books printed in the infancy of printing, particularly those printed before 1500. 2. (usually in the plural) The earliest stage of anything, as role of the vacuum tube among the incunabula of computing.

Notes: Today's Good Word has retained its Latin plural: incunabula. This word was arbitrarily assigned to books published before 1500 somewhere in Germany in the early 19th century. Since it is a Latin word, it works just as well in English—in fact, in any language. It is used today mostly by bibliopolists in the antiquarian book trade though, in the second sense, it is used more widely.

In Play: As you examine a potential friend's library this question may now come to mind: "Is this a genuine incunabulum or just a facsimile?" Of course, there is a plethora of occasions where the second meaning comes in handy: "Benjamin Franklin is a prominent figure among the incunabula of American history. (Remember to use the plural in these contexts.)

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Latin incunabulum, the singular of Latin incunabula "swaddling clothes, cradle". This word is made up of in- "in" + cunabula "small cradle, infancy". The ultimate Latin word underlying all these derivations is cunae "cradle". It goes back to the Proto-Indo-European root which also lurks behind cemetery. Cemetery comes to us ultimately from Greek koieterion "sleeping place", based on koima "to put to sleep". By the time it had passed through Latin and been handed down to French, it had become cimetière "graveyard", at which point English borrowed it and worked its magic on it. (Suzanne Russell has been a contributor of intriguing words like today's since the incunabula of alphaDictionary's Good Word series.)
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Re: INCUNABULUM

Postby MTC » Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:34 am

I have most often heard today's word used to refer to an author's early or juvenile works.

An alternate spelling is incunable.

For the theologists among us,
Sincunabulum: Original Sin
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Re: INCUNABULUM

Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:00 pm

heh,heh
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Re: INCUNABULUM

Postby gailr » Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:46 pm

Great WoTD!
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Re: INCUNABULUM

Postby Slava » Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:11 pm

Two earlier treatments, in the plural, can be found here and here.
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Re: INCUNABULUM

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:09 am

Why does the word always remind me of incubus?
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Re: INCUNABULUM

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:06 pm

or succubus. Probably because of all the current stress
of Vampire movies and TV lately.
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Re: INCUNABULUM

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:46 pm

Of which I have seen exactly none and wondered why in the ever loving blue eyed world anyone does watch them.
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Re: INCUNABULUM

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:19 pm

One of them has blue eyes in that latest
3 films of whichI cannot remember the name: teen rage.
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Re: INCUNABULUM

Postby gailr » Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:30 pm

Luke, you're verging dangerously near to invoking the sparkling. I beg you not to do this.


:wink:
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Re: INCUNABULUM

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:11 am

Help! This thread has run a course that I do not understand even a little bit. Should I want to?
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Re: INCUNABULUM

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:47 pm

gailr wrote:Luke, you're verging dangerously near to invoking the sparkling. I beg you not to do this.


:wink:


I really don't know what the 'sparkling' is but I can guess.
I did not see that trilogy, though I may. I do watch
'Supernatural", Dean and Sam; and for years up to this
current year watch "Vampire Diaries" and some on SyFy.
VampDiaries I could not abide a moment longer. Too much
repeat of themes and 28 year old people playing
sophomores and juniors in high school. Too unbelievable
with things that had nothing to do with Vamps. I am not
a great fan, but don't ignore the genre, try to keep an
open mind. Liked "Skinwalkers", movie with the Native
American theme. But alas, I did not see that trilogy.
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Re: INCUNABULUM

Postby gailr » Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:26 pm

Luke: it's a trilogy in the Douglas Adams sense, perhaps. :wink:

If you're referring to what I *think* you're referring to -- and let the name not be spoken among us -- four books and five movies. The promotion is OMG!Sparkling!TrueLove!Marriage!Family! and that hype seems to have undermined the sketchy reasoning of a lot of impressionable mothers and their daughters. The reality is Incessant Whining!Compulsive Lying!Racism!Sociopaths!Money!SuperficialJudgements!Suicide Threats!Casual Murder!Bad Spelling!Bad Grammar! There is not enough inexplicable, gratuitous sparkling in the world to make that look like a deeply moral book o'role models, imho.

Bram Stoker's incunabulum of this genre remains superior.


[edit]fixed spelink air![/edit]
Last edited by gailr on Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: INCUNABULUM

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:12 pm

Like WOW! I didn't realize all that stuff was in there! Can't wait! ;-)
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Re: INCUNABULUM

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:10 pm

gailr wrote:Luke, you're verging dangerously near to invoking the sparkling. I beg you not to do this.


:wink:


I am not familiar with the books to which you refer, thus
I presume I misspoke with "sparkling". I was referring
to the "Twilight" saga, when I mentioned "blue eyes".
I know of it from advs. on TV and posters I've seen.
The Vampire genre is every where these days, and
too much to keep up with. Even "Law and Order" the
other night had a 'suspect' named Bram Stoker, who
hated his name but was making the most of it in this
age with all the Vamp hype.


(And I notice this posting is numbered 2666)


{Just checked out Douglas Adams: no I won't invoke
that medium}.
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