View previous topic | View next topic

Peculiar Palabras

Page 1 of 2
Goto page 1, 2  Next

DVD Smith
1268633.  Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:00 am Reply with quote

(Basically unusual words beginning with P.)

A paragram(me) is a piece of wordplay in which one or more letters has been changed. Nowadays we more commonly know it as a pun.

One of the oldest recorded puns in Great Britain can be found in the origins of the nickname of King Aethelread I, aka "Aethelread the Unready", who ruled at the turn of the 11th century. This name comes not from his tardiness [klaxon?] but from a pun on his name, Aethel-read, which means "Noble Counsel" in Anglo-Saxon. His incompetence as king led to him being given the nickname "Un-read", meaning "Bad Counsel". This then evolved into "Unready", which is what stuck. [1]

Interestingly, "unready" is still in the dictionary and still occasionally used (5000 results in a Google News search, compared to 38.3 million for "ready"), but nowadays it almost exclusively means "ill-prepared", and not "hesitant" or "slow to act" like it used to. (Wiktionary unhelpfully defines it as "not ready".)

Last edited by DVD Smith on Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:19 am; edited 1 time in total

DVD Smith
1268636.  Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:14 am Reply with quote

A paronym is, among other things, a word that sound confusingly similar to another word but has a different meaning. Examples include:

"Affect" and "Effect"
"Upmost" and "Utmost"
"Accept" and "Except"
"Biannual" and "Biennial"
"Avoision" and "Evasion" (when referring to tax)
"Four candles" and "fork handles"

There are hundreds of these; a big list can be found here.

Interestingly, "paronym" is itself a paronym, as it can be confused with "patronym" (a name derived from a father's name, e.g. Johnson, MacDonald) or with "paranym" (another word for a euphemism).

It should be noted that "paronym" also has two other definitions - a word derived from a similar word (e.g. "childish" from "child"), and a word translated from a foreign language with little or no modification (e.g. "bureau", "kindergarten", or "palabra", which is in the English dictionary but comes from the Spanish for "word").

(More info on paronyms and paranyms here.)

Edit: Another loose paronym of paronym could be "paranymph". A paranymph is an ancient Greek word for a ceremonial assistant (like a bridesmaid or a best man) or just an ally who supports you and talks you up to others (like a wingman in a bar). In the Netherlands, paranymphs ("paranimfen" in Dutch) are still used for doctoral thesis defences, [1] although their role is mostly symbolic these days.

Last edited by DVD Smith on Tue Jan 09, 2018 6:08 am; edited 9 times in total

1268638.  Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:29 am Reply with quote

DVD Smith wrote:

"Farther" and "Further"

Those are etymologically two forms of the same word, and are generally interchangeable in the context of physical distance (e.g. "I can travel no farther/further"). My feeling is that "farther" is commoner in American English than in British English, which prefers "further". I don't think they can be regarded as an example of the phenomenon you describe.

DVD Smith
1268639.  Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:31 am Reply with quote

That's fair; I took that example from the Wikipedia page for "paronym" but you're right, they're more synonyms than paronyms. I've taken them off the list.

1268640.  Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:37 am Reply with quote

Removed from Wikipedia also.

DVD Smith
1268646.  Wed Dec 27, 2017 12:35 pm Reply with quote

"Join Dame Toksvig's QI club of sphynx wizards".

This is an example of a pangram, a sentence that uses all the letters of the alphabet. The most famous example of course is "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog".

Obviously other languages have their own phrases, which often have to include more than English's 26 characters. Some of my favourites are: [1][2]

French: "Portez ce vieux whisky au juge blond qui fume" - "Take this old whisky to the blond judge who smokes"
German: "Zwlf Boxkmpfer jagen Viktor quer ber den groen Sylter Deich" - "Twelve boxing fighters drive Viktor over the great Sylt Dike" (including all umlauts and the character)
Dutch: "Pas wijze lynx bezag vroom het fikse aquaduct." - "Dads wise lynx piously regarded the substantial aqueduct."
Danish: "Quizdeltagerne spiste jordbr med flde, mens cirkusklovnen Walther spillede p xylofon." - "The quiz contestants ate strawberries with cream while Walther the clown was playing the xylophone."
Brazilian Portuguese: "Zebras caolhas de Java querem passar fax para moas gigantes de New York" - "Strabic zebras from Java want to pass a fax to giant girls from New York."
Welsh: "Parciais fy jac codi baw hud llawn dŵr ger tŷ Mabon" - "I parked my magic JCB full of water near Mabons house."

Back in English, a perfect pangram is a pangram that is 26 letters long, and can be considered to be an anagram of the alphabet. One example is "Mr Jock, TV quiz PhD, bags few lynx".

Pangrams are often used as filler text to show samples of fonts. Microsoft Windows, for example, uses the "lazy dog" sentence, but other pieces of software sometimes use different phrases. Apparently on the Space Shuttle they used the test phrase "Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs" but I can't find any concrete source for that beyond message board posts and blog posts like this one.

1268706.  Thu Dec 28, 2017 8:17 am Reply with quote

I've found a perfect but slightly odd pangram in Danish:
"Hj bly gom vandt frk sexquiz p wc."

(tall shy bridegroom won naughty sex quiz on the loo)


1268711.  Thu Dec 28, 2017 8:35 am Reply with quote

Unsurprisingly, perfect pangrams tend to be rather contrived. DVD's example about a professional quizzer certainly is, although Dix's Danish example is decidedly better. All the same, is sexquiz a word in everyday use?

But for your delectation and delight I present:

Pjdźże, kiń tę chmurność w głąb flaszy

That is the 32 letters of the Polish alphabet in the space of 32 letters. It means "Come on, drop your sadness into the depth of a bottle" - which may not be great advice, but is rather less contrived than most examples of the kind.

1268714.  Thu Dec 28, 2017 8:39 am Reply with quote

Cloggie pangram:

Doch vlakbij zwerft 'n exquis gympje

(= Though nearby an exquisite plimsoll wanders)

1268716.  Thu Dec 28, 2017 8:48 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
All the same, is sexquiz a word in everyday use?

At a guess I'd say you are more likely to encounter sexquiz than "bly" and "gom" which are both rather old-fashioned.
Especially if you read tabloid newspapers.

A quick google using sexquiz site:dk gives me a couple of fairly recent hits on page one, from various well-known news sites. Some others have hyphenated the word (which is ok for a slightly unusual compound word). Those that spell it as two words are just sloppy!

1269163.  Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:23 am Reply with quote

J.Q. Vandz struck my big fox whelp was the perfect pangram in my head but it relies on a slightly odd sounding proper name.

Incidentally, has anyone here read Ella Minnow Pea ?

DVD Smith
1271101.  Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:04 am Reply with quote

Some more P-words:

Paviour - A person who lays paving stones. (This needs to be brought back!) [1]

Pectinate/Pectiniform - Comb-shaped. [2][3]

Phoenicopter - An old word for a flamingo. [4] Comes from the Greek for "red-winged" or "red-feathered" - the same root of etymology as helicopter, my favourite etymology of all.

Pronasale - the tip of the nose. (For whatever reason, Wiktionary helpfully tells me that it's an anagram of "anal pores".) [5][6]

Pundigrion - another word (possibly the origin word) for "pun". [7]

Pyrrhotism - the characteristic of having red hair. [8]

Pompatus - a comedic nonsense word, coined by Steve Miller in his song "The Joker" and since used elsewhere.

Pogamoggan - A Native American club, used as a weapon or ceremonial object. [10] (Also the game that Pikachu comes from if you have a cold.)

1271115.  Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:03 am Reply with quote

Parvenu - someone who has amassed enough wealth to move into higher social circles but without acquiring culture, enlightenment.

[Of course I thought of Trump, but he used the money his father left him. What would be the correct name for him?]

1271117.  Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:10 am Reply with quote


Alexander Howard
1271150.  Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:46 am Reply with quote

Poodlefaker. No-one ever uses it properly these days, apart from Boris Johnson, when he called Tony Blair a "mincing poodlefaker".

It is a word I intend to use more in conversation. After all, these poodlefakers rarely throw a good punch.

Last edited by Alexander Howard on Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:04 pm; edited 1 time in total


Page 1 of 2
Goto page 1, 2  Next

All times are GMT - 5 Hours

Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group