Category: language (page 1 of 7)

Book News, Oct. 11th

Happy October, bookworms. To paraphrase Anne (with an E) Shirley, I’m so happy to live in a world where there are Octobers. I like October because it means changing leaf colors, cooler weather and ALL THE APPLES. (Imma let you finish, but apples are totally > anything pumpkin spice.) Today, I’m visiting Newgrange, a UNESCO World Heritage site here in Ireland. I hope you’re enjoying yourself, wherever you are. And I also hope you enjoy the book news:

  • Bad Adobe! With thanks to Dear Author and Smart B*tches for bringing this to my attention, it turns out Adobe has been spying on you while you read. Adobe’s Digital Editions 4, often used to read e-books for various sources (many libraries with Overdrive use it, for example), tracks every book you read and sends that information back to Adobe in plain text format (i.e., a wildly unprotected format). It’s simultaneously an invasion of privacy and a data security issue, one the company apparently doesn’t see as a problem. Adobe did say it was “working on an update” for Digital Editions 4, though there’s no indication that update will, you know, stop recording every page and book you read and send that information to the company unencrypted. Some companies never learn.
  • Authors United’s fight with Amazon is about to get some reinforcements. Several high-profile authors, including Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie and Ursula Le Guin, have agreed to join AU in its fight against Amazon. The organization is hoping to put enough stress on Amazon and compel it to end its dispute with Hachette Books regarding the pricing of e-books. In a statement, Le Guin compared Amazon’s tactics to censorship, saying the conglomerate “deliberately [makes] a book hard or impossible to get” and decried Amazon’s use of that censorship “to gain total market control so they can dictate to publishers what they can publish, to authors what they can write, to readers what they can buy.”
  • J.K. Rowling almost broke the Internet and she’s probably laughing about that. Earlier this week, Rowling published a cryptic tweet, which Potterheads immediately began trying to decode. Many die-hard fans were convinced the tweet heralded the return of The Boy Who Lived, while Rowling herself took to Twitter to provide some clarification. In the end, the original tweet turned out to be an anagram for a sentence relating to Rowling’s upcoming Newt Scamander “prequel.” Rowling, meanwhile, prove once again that she is indeed smarter than the rest of us. And I’m okay with that.
  • Introvert children of the world, rejoice! Susan Cain is writing a book for you. Cain, author of one of my most favorite nonfiction books (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking) signed a deal with Penguin Young Readers to publish of Quiet for children. The original was clearly geared towards adults, with discussions of workplaces and parenting choices. The children’s version will feature stories of children who have used their own introversion to their advantage. I’m certainly looking forward to this book (even having no children of my own) and I wish it had been around when I was a socially awkward young’un.
  • How do you say you’re sorry in Dothraki? You don’t! At least, according to the folks who came up with Dothraki for the Game of Thrones television show, you don’t. Now you too can become a Dothraki expert. Living Languages has released a Dothraki course, featuring more than 200 words, phrases, grammar explanations, notes and more. George R.R. Martin only created the barest foundation for Dothraki in his books; HBO hired linguists to help expand the language for use on television. At the very least, you could learn how to curse someone in Dothraki and not only would that person never know, but you also would get away with foul language in public. Sounds like a Dothraki to me!
  • Lastly, my name is Meredith and I love reading romance novels. And I’m not afraid to stand up (here in my little corner of the Internet) and admit it. If, however, you’re feeling a bit skittish about your own romance habit, Elyse at Smart B*tches has an excellent post in defense of romance novels. She aptly knocks down most of the arguments she hears against romance, pointing out that the romance genre and feminism tend to go hand-in-hand (books written about women, by women, for women = duh! feminist!) while also deconstructing the fallacious idea of “good” or “serious” literature. (I’ll take Sarah MacLean over Jonathan Franzen any day, thank you very much.) Read it. Be happy. Then read more romance!

As always, happy reading.

Word of the Week (172)

DictionaryGiven all that’s being going on in the U.S. lately, it would be an egregious mistake on my point not to commemorate one of our nation’s most stirring events: On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington. A defining moment for the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King’s speech is as relevant today as it was then, and the power of his words has only gone with time. You can read and hear the speech on American Rhetoric.com.

Egregious (“ih-gree-juhs”)

Adjective; from Dictionary.com:

1. Extraordinary in some bad way;
2. Flagrant, glaring

To say it wasn’t what she was expecting was an egregious understatement. (The Chief, Monica McCarty)

Latin all the way. Egregious is entirely rooted in Latin, coming from the egregius, which means excellent or extraordinary. That word, in turn, stems from a Latin phrase ex grege, which translates to “rising above the flock” (the prefix ex meaning “out of” and the stem grege referring to a herd of flock). The current, modern definition for egregious, with its disapproving sense, dates back to the late 16th century, when it was used in an ironic sense.

Your turn, bookworms – Even our favorite authors can stumble from time to time. What would you consider an egregious mistake from an author or a writer? I’m personally always on the look out for the passive voice. Passive verbs, begone!

[Photo Credit: Google Images]

Word of the Week (171)

DictionaryIt’s Christopher Robin’s birthday today. The real Christopher Robin, son of A.A. Milne, was the inspiration for Milne’s Winnie the Pooh series, thanks in part to the stuffed bear who was his constant companion. Once grown, Christopher Milne served with the Royal Engineers during WWII and opened a bookstore with his wife – which proved sometimes frustrating since he did not like his father’s books about his own childhood, finding them exploitive and full of pablum. Still, Christopher Robin lives on, as children around the world discover Pooh and his friends for the first time.

Pablum (“pab-luhm”)

Noun; from Dictionary.com:

1. Trite, naive or simplistic ideas or writing
2. Intellectual pap

Twelve years in a mental institution taught you a lot of things – including when someone was feeding you a reassuring line of pablum. (A Lost Witch, Debora Geary)

Well, hello Latin, my old friend. Yes, indeed, bookworms, pablum is a Latin word. (Did you really have any doubt?) Pablum was derived from the Latin word pabulum, meaning “food, fodder, nourishment.” So how did we get our modern day usage? Mead Johnson & Co. trademarked the name Pablum (capital P) for a soft, bland cereal for infants and invalids. Pablum as a noun for trite or weak words or ideas was first used in the figurative sense by U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew in the ’70’s, when referring to political prose. What a fascinating word history, no?

Your turn, bookworms – Non-readers often don’t understand the irresistible pull of a good book. What’s the worst (or most annoying) bit of pablum a non-reader has said to you? My (non) favorite is “oh, I don’t have time to read.” Ugh!

[Photo Credit: Google Images]

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