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FICKLE

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FICKLE

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:44 pm

• fickle •


Pronunciation: fik-êl • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Capricious, unpredictable changeable, disappointingly erratic.

Notes: This is a word, as today's suggester correctly pointed out in the Agora, that I use frequently in referring to the various Fickle Ns and Ses that have emerged and disappeared over the course of the history of the Indo-European languages. I explain that usage here. The noun and adverb coming out of this word are what you would expect: fickleness and fickly, respectively.

In Play: Today's Good Word originally meant "deceptive", and a hint of disappointment resides in this word even today: "Every time Kaye Syrah embarks on something really great, the fickle finger of fate flips her the bird." She doesn't let it get her down, though. Can you guess why? The word is most commonly used in the sense of "unfaithful" when speaking of people: "June McBride could not take the fickleness of Phil Anders, so she settled for William Arami."

Word History: Today's word in Old English was ficol "deceitful, deceptive", related to befician "deceive" and to facen "deceit, treachery". Before Old English, even before Proto-Germanic, it was Proto-Indo-European *peig- "evil-minded, hostile". This word emerged in Latin as piget "it irks, displeases", and piger "reluctant, lazy". With a different suffix, it became German Fehde "feud" and English feud. The only other languages where it appears to have emerged are Latvian, where it is today pikùlas "devil", and Lithuanian, where it has become pìktas "angry". (Lest I seem fickle with my gratitude, let me now thank Perry Lassiter, a Grand Panjandrum in the Alpha Agora, for suggesting today's Good Word.)
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Re: FICKLE

Postby bnjtokyo » Fri Apr 19, 2013 5:10 am

"I explain that usage here." I beg to differ. I did not see an explanation of why "fickle" applies to the Ns and Ses, but I suppose if we could explain why an N appears in this word and not in that word it would no longer be a fickle N but a predictable N. Nonetheless, it would be nice to have examples of how certain historical linguistic facts would lead us to expect an "N" in a certain word but that the N inexplicably fails to appear. (Or vice versa)
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Re: FICKLE

Postby MTC » Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:22 am

But if fickle Ns and Ss could be predicted they would not be "fickle," would they?
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Re: FICKLE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:17 pm

And we don't see too much reference to Latvian.
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Re: FICKLE

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Apr 19, 2013 2:29 pm

Nor Lithuanian. I have Latvian and Lithuanian friends but know nothing of their languages. Along with Estonia, they constitute the Baltic States and were a part of the USSR. A large number of Russians live in each of these countries. Through the centuries these countries have expanded and contracted until now they are both very small. We had a Latvian Intern Pastor at our church in the past. My neighbor is a Lithuanian. I am glad to know at least one word from each language, even if they are devil and angry.
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Re: FICKLE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Apr 19, 2013 2:46 pm

Perhaps they could teach you to say hello and good morning.
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Re: FICKLE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:37 pm

And the US never recognized their incorporation
into the USSR. Lithuania's history is particularly
interrtwined with Russia and Poland.
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Re: FICKLE

Postby bamaboy56 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:17 pm

I'm reminded of Rowan & Martin's Flying Fickle Finger of Fate award they would give out on each of their shows for some quirk or another. Wierd what things stick in your mind.
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Re: FICKLE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Apr 20, 2013 12:32 pm

I remember it too. I think it was the index finger, but for some reason I remember it as the middle finger...
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Re: FICKLE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Apr 20, 2013 12:55 pm

That's when SNL was fun.
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Re: FICKLE

Postby gailr » Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:30 pm

It's still fun once in awhile and showcases some real talents, but that initial edge could not be maintained indefinitely. Perhaps the fickleness of what is funny or not is determined partly by the residual undercurrent of hostility in both "fickle" and comedy.
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Re: FICKLE

Postby Slava » Sat Apr 20, 2013 9:59 pm

Color me fickle, but I could have sworn that the original reference to television was to Rowan and Martin. How did Saturday Night Live get in there?
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Re: FICKLE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Apr 20, 2013 11:56 pm

It IS Sat nite, at least where I am.
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Re: FICKLE

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Apr 21, 2013 12:57 am

I think there is some inconsistency in our discussion between Rowan and Martin Laugh In of years ago and the present Saturday Night Live. Both have their pluses and minuses. But Saturday Night Live doesn't have Goldie Hawn and Judy Carne.
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