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Cacography

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Cacography

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Feb 06, 2014 11:46 pm

• cacography •


Pronunciation: kæ-kah-grê-fi • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: 1. Bad handwriting, chicken scratch, scrawl, scribbling. 2. Bad spelling, misspelling.

Notes: The meaning of today's word should come as no surprise to all those who read cacodemon. It comes with a set of derivatives parallel to all words ending on -graphy: cacographic, cacographical, and cacographically. People guilty of cacography are known as cacographers (compare photographer and its family).

In Play: Doctors are often accused of cacography in the first sense: "Dr. Lance Boyle's prescriptions are so cacographical not even the most practiced pharmacist can read them." There is evidence all over the web of cacography in the second sense. Receive spelled recieve appears more than 8 million times on the web. I wrote a Language Blog entry last October about a movie containing a TV ad concerning "marshal law". Go here for a larger sampling.

Word History: This word is a compound of caco- "bad" + graphia "writing". We learned all about caco- from cacodemon. What about graphia? This word comes from Greek graphein "to write", originally "to draw" and, beyond that, "to scratch". It goes back to a Proto-Indo-European word, gerbh- "scratch, carve", that evolved into many English words, both natural and borrowed. First it came directly to English through its Germanic ancestors as Old English ceorfan "to cut", which is carve today. The R and the vowel preceding it switched places early on, resulting in crebiz, ancestor of today's crab. Old French borrowed crebiz from Germanic, replacing the B with V, resulting in crevice "crayfish" (today écrevisse). At that time, English had no word for "crayfish", so it borrowed the French word back as crevice, which ultimately became crayfish by folk etymology. Ping-pong anyone?
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Re: Cacography

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:12 pm

As a teacher I surely experienced all sorts of
cacography. Todays youth print more than use
cursive. I wonder, just for discussions' sake if
cursive is going to disappear?
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: Cacography

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:12 pm

I am sure the most frequent users of this site are aware there is a movement in elementary ed to eliminate cursive writing. The reason for this seems to lie in the increasing use of keyboards on cell phones and pads. I've known quite a few engineer types who only print, but can print faster than most people can write cursive.

I am an excellent example of cacography. My one moment of glory as far as handwriting is concerned was in the third grade. The teacher held up my handwriting exercise for the class to see and bragged on it. That's the only time anyone has ever admitted that my handwriting was close to legible. And by the way, that was written in those absolutely awful scratch pins that you dipped into ink after every word. They are long gone, mostly forgotten, and unlamented.
pl
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Re: Cacography

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:58 pm

I've always been a fast typer, and computers enhanced
that, well over 90 words per min. But I'd hate to
see cursive eliminated. My handwriting is terrible. My
father and mother both had nice script, but it must
have skipped both me and my brother.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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