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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Nov 16, 2020 6:55 pm

• Anthropocene •

Pronunciation: (UK) æn-thrê-pê-seen, (US) æn-thrah- • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: (Geology) The current geological epoch, beginning in the 18th century, when human activities have impacted the environment, ecology and climate of the Earth.

Notes: Here is a new word, taking its place alongside (the) Holocene "the epoch since the Ice Age (11,700 years ago) and (the) Pleistocene "the preceding epoch (2.6 million to 11,700 years ago). Like these words, it requires capitalization and the word the before it. Also, like Holocene and Pleistocene, today's word may be used without a suffix as an adjective.

In Play: Words ending on the combining form -cene refer to fuzzy eras, defined by some dominant feature. The Anthropocene is the era in which humans began dominating the Earth: "Some believe that the Anthropocene began with the Industrial Revolution." Using the seas as a garbage dump is a feature of the Anthropocene epoch. One flicker of hope in the Anthropocene era is the reduction of the size of the hole in the ozone layer as a result of the worldwide ban on chlorofluorocarbons.

Word History: The short history of today's Good Word began in the 1980s when it was coined by American biologist Eugene Stoermer then popularized by Dutch atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen in the 2000s. It is a combination of Greek anthropos "male or female person" + -cene, a Latinized combining form of Greek kainos "new, fresh". Anthropos looks like it might have come from ander- "man" + ops "eye, face, looks", maybe "having a man-like face" worn down over time. If so, it comes from PIE aner- "man (male)" found in Sanskrit nar- Armenian ayr and Welsh ner "a man". The combining form -cene goes back to PIE ken-/kon- "new, fresh", which we find in Russian na-čin-at' "begin" and Latin re-cen(t)s "fresh, young". (Today's Good Word discovery was made by long-time contributor George Kovac of Miami, Florida, who, happily, shared it with us.)
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Re: Anthropocene

Postby MTC » Tue Nov 17, 2020 5:26 pm

...and looking ahead to a bright future with a hop, skip,and a geological jump we land on the Post Anthropocene. Whoops! Nobody home.

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Re: Anthropocene

Postby George Kovac » Tue Nov 17, 2020 6:30 pm

...and looking ahead to a bright future with a hop, skip,and a geological jump we land on the Post Anthropocene. Whoops! Nobody home.

Hear, hear!

Awareness and criticism of the environmental cost of the Industrial Revolution are widespread today, but some observers expressed alarm two centuries ago.

The New York Review of Books examines a new exhibit of paintings of J.M.W. Turner at the Tate Britain, noting that “the curators point out that the full-spectrum sunsets and cloudscapes that envelop Turner’s industrial towns and workshops reflect not just Romantic aesthetics; they also register the meteorological effects of greenhouse-gas pollution. In The Thames Above Waterloo Bridge (circa 1835), painted decades before Claude Monet immortalized Victorian London’s smoky haze, Turner renders the capital’s air as a miasma of sulfurous orange, brown, and gray. These are crime scenes of the early Anthropocene.”

It is useful to have the well-crafted word (and concept) “Anthropocene” to frame our analysis and discussion of the critical threat to the environment. But framing the discussion is just the start.
"The messy layers of human experience get pulled together, and sometimes ordered, by words." Colum McCann, But Always Meeting Ourselves, NYT 6/15/09

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Re: Anthropocene

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:44 pm

I have no humorous retort to this most serious good word. Let us hope George, MTC, and I, who tend to agree, will be proven wrong. Grandpa and Granny Hicks told me not to worry because Jesus would come before something like this happened. Granny was gleefully expecting it any day. Christian though I am, I submit that no one knows.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

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Re: Anthropocene

Postby Slava » Mon Dec 21, 2020 7:35 am

Do any of our US-English speakers actually use the pronunciation attributed to US? Putting the stress on the second syllable is quite foreign to me.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.

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Re: Anthropocene

Postby bnjtokyo » Mon Dec 21, 2020 7:27 pm

I partially agree with Slava. I pronounce it an-thro-po-scene with stress on the first syllable.
I take "anthro" from the abbreviated version of "anthropology" favored by university students and to not reduce any of the vowels to schwa. I grew in California and now may be influenced by Japanese, a language that pronounces every vowel (although vowels are devoiced in certain environments).

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