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Palimpsest

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Palimpsest

Postby tcward » Fri Apr 15, 2005 9:27 am

Pronunciation: pæ-lêm(p)-sest or pah-lim(p)-sest • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A document written on a sheet or paper or parchment that has been used before, the earlier writing either scraped off or though, perhaps, still partially visible. 2. Anything with more than one layer or aspect beneath its surface, anything multilayered.

Notes: The British and Americans cannot agree on the pronunciation of this word. In Britain it is pronounced [pah-li(m)p-sest] while the Yanks pronounce it [pæ-lim(p)-sest]. It is difficult to hear the [p] because it is so similar to the [m]—pronounce them yourselves and notice how both are bilabial, involving both lips. The adjective is palimpsestic [pæ-lim(p)-'ses-tik].

In Play: Today's good word effortlessly settles into the description of any work of art: "The Little Prince is much more than a children's story; it is a palimpsest of the author's affairs, stormy marriage, and perhaps even a covert suicide note." Places or people whose history shows through a modern facade beg for it: "New York is a palimpsest of all the cultures that passed through Ellis Island in by-gone years."

Word History: Today's good word goes back through Latin palimpsestus to Greek palimpsestos "scraped again". This compound contains palin "again" + psen "to rub or scrape." Greek palin derives from Proto-Indo-European *kwel-/kwol "turn", the same root underlying Latin collum "neck" and English "collar". "Psen" is akin to Sanskrit psati "eat" and Russian pisat' "write", both specialized types of scraping. (It doesn't take much effort to scrape together and expression of our gratitude to our distinguished friend, Lyn Laboriel, for alerting us to the beauty and depth of today's Good Word.)

–Dr. Goodword, Alpha Dictionary
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Postby Brazilian dude » Fri Apr 15, 2005 10:32 am

Outstanding work, Tim! Doctor Goodwork, watch out! The pronunciation feature was a plus as well. I just thought the guy's voice was kind of evil (it wasn't yours, was it?)

May I just say that whenever I see facade I tend to pronounce it fuh-KEID? I think I need that visual cue, the ç to remind me it's French, but I guess it's just me :wink:

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Postby anders » Fri Apr 15, 2005 10:59 am

Interesting. I never came across the second meaning.

BD, I suppose you know that your word is fasad in Swedish.
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Postby Brazilian dude » Fri Apr 15, 2005 11:07 am

Naturligtvis vet jag det :D .

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Postby Apoclima » Fri Apr 15, 2005 4:49 pm

People often do pronounce it "faKAID!" Even with the cedilla! It is a running joke with one of my friends. I like it with the cedilla. I just looks bare to me without it! Like the dieresis on naïve.

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Postby Brazilian dude » Fri Apr 15, 2005 4:59 pm

Right, because naïve without the dieresis would be pronounced like nave, wouldn't it?

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P.S. I think we could try embellishing the English language with a few diatrics here and there, don't you think?
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Postby Apoclima » Fri Apr 15, 2005 5:26 pm

List of English words with diacritics

Apo

Scribe to the Foundation for the Retention of All Diacritics in English (FRADE)

Not to be confused with furniture recycling...Furniture Reclamation And Delivery Enterprise
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Postby Brazilian dude » Fri Apr 15, 2005 5:34 pm

I would have made a fuss if I hadn't seen auto-da-fé there.

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Postby tcward » Fri Apr 15, 2005 5:46 pm

Unfortunately, the diacritical marks have gone by the wayside over the decades. They were not uncommon in the nineteenth century.

There are many words in English that would benefit from the diacritical marks.

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Postby Brazilian dude » Fri Apr 15, 2005 9:46 pm

I think The New Yorker still uses the dieresis in words like coöperation.

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Postby Apoclima » Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:03 am

A very good example is the humble jalapeño chile, which is often misspelled without the tilde. In which case, and one does hear this often, it looks like "jalapeno." Most speakers are OK with replacing the Spanish "jota" with a smooth "h" sound of English, but I hate it when people say "halapeeno" pepper, totally ignoring the absence of the ~.

Jalapeño

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Postby KatyBr » Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:22 am

I'm with ya Apo, and people look at me like I'm nuts when I pronounce it correctly, some even correct my pronunciation.

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Postby KatyBr » Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:25 am

Brazilian dude wrote:I would have made a fuss if I hadn't seen auto-da-fé there.

Brazilian dude


who got fired?

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Postby Apoclima » Sat Apr 16, 2005 3:54 am

Katy:
I'm with ya Apo, and people look at me like I'm nuts when I pronounce it correctly, some even correct my pronunciation.


Too funny! They certainly don't want you to go through life sounding ignorant.

I love helpful people, don't you?

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Postby anders » Sat Apr 16, 2005 4:27 am

It seems to me that most definitions of "diacritics" include the top parts of Swedish å, ä, ö, and they are often referred to in English as "accented letters".

That may be appropriate and helpful in some sorting algorithms (in German, ä and ö are sorted as a and o, respectively). But my native feeling is that they are letters in their own right, in the same way as an E isn't an F with an added _ diacritic.

An argument against my stance comes from history. The dots were originally a small superscript e, and the ring was a superscript a. Even today, aa, ae, oe are used for å, ä, ö, especially for capitals and/or in established proper names, like the Danish poet Adam Oehlenschläger, the Danish schnapps Aalborg akvavit and tons of others.
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