Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 26, 2016 is:
guttural \GUTT-uh-rul\ adjective
1 : articulated in the throat
2 : velar
3 : being or marked by utterance that is strange, unpleasant, or disagreeable
The only response we could get from him was an inarticulate guttural grunt.
"The guttural yells echoing off New Jersey's Lake Mercer conveyed the gravity of college rowing's biggest day Sunday: the Intercollegiate Rowing Championship." — Brian Towey, The Seattle Times, 6 June 2016
Did you know?
Though it is now used to describe many sounds or utterances which strike the listener as harsh or disagreeable, the adjective guttural was originally applied only to sounds and utterances produced in the throat. This is reflected in the word's Latin root—guttur, meaning "throat." Despite the similarity in sound, guttural is not related to the English word gutter, which comes (by way of Anglo-French) from Latin gutta, meaning "drop."
On this day in 1939, the first televised Major League baseball game is broadcast on station W2XBS, the station that was to become WNBC-TV. Announcer Red Barber called the game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York.
At the time, television was still in its infancy. Regular programming did not yet exist, and very few people owned television sets–there were only about 400 in the New York area. Not until 1946 did regular network broadcasting catch on in the United States, and only in the mid-1950s did television sets become more common in the American household.
In 1939, the World’s Fair–which was being held in New York–became the catalyst for the historic broadcast. The television was one of fair’s prize exhibits, and organizers believed that the Dodgers-Reds doubleheader on August 26 was the perfect event to showcase America’s grasp on the new technology.
By today’s standards, the video coverage was somewhat crude. There were only two stationary camera angles: The first was placed down the third base line to pick up infield throws to first, and the second was placed high above home plate to get an extensive view of the field. It was also difficult to capture fast-moving plays: Swinging bats looked like paper fans, and the ball was all but invisible during pitches and hits.
Nevertheless, the experiment was a success, driving interest in the development of television technology, particularly for sporting events. Though baseball owners were initially concerned that televising baseball would sap actual attendance, they soon warmed to the idea, and the possibilities for revenue generation that came with increased exposure of the game, including the sale of rights to air certain teams or games and television advertising.
Today, televised sports is a multi-billion dollar industry, with technology that gives viewers an astounding amount of visual and audio detail. Cameras are now so precise that they can capture the way a ball changes shape when struck by a bat, and athletes are wired to pick up field-level and sideline conversation.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 25, 2016 is:
notch \NAHTCH\ noun
1 a : a V-shaped indentation
b : a slit made to serve as a record
c : a rounded indentation cut into the pages of a book on the edge opposite the spine
2 : a deep close pass : gap
The angle of the futon can be adjusted by inserting the pin into one of three notches.
"You're about to start a race or step onstage, and you want to knock it out of the park. … Revving up … is pretty easy: Do a few jumping jacks, or whatever gets your blood pumping. Need to take things down a notch (or 20)? Inhale deeply. Research shows that it can significantly calm you down." — Jeanine Detz, Self, July/August 2016
Did you know?
Occasionally, you might hear a child ask for a "napple," as in "I would like a napple," mistaking the phrase "an apple" for "a napple." A similar error is believed to be behind notch, which may have resulted from a misdivision of "an otch." (Otch is a noun that is assumed to have existed in earlier English as a borrowing of Middle French oche, meaning "an incision made to keep a record.") Notch would not be alone in developing from such a mistake. The words newt and nickname were formed, respectively, from misdivisions of "an ewte" and "an ekename." Going in the other direction, umpire first appears in Middle English as oumpere, a mistaken rendering of "a noumpere."
On this day in 1835, the first in a series of six articles announcing the supposed discovery of life on the moon appears in the New York Sun newspaper.
Known collectively as “The Great Moon Hoax,” the articles were supposedly reprinted from the Edinburgh Journal of Science. The byline was Dr. Andrew Grant, described as a colleague of Sir John Herschel, a famous astronomer of the day. Herschel had in fact traveled to Capetown, South Africa, in January 1834 to set up an observatory with a powerful new telescope. As Grant described it, Herschel had found evidence of life forms on the moon, including such fantastic animals as unicorns, two-legged beavers and furry, winged humanoids resembling bats. The articles also offered vivid description of the moon’s geography, complete with massive craters, enormous amethyst crystals, rushing rivers and lush vegetation.
The New York Sun, founded in 1833, was one of the new “penny press” papers that appealed to a wider audience with a cheaper price and a more narrative style of journalism. From the day the first moon hoax article was released, sales of the paper shot up considerably. It was exciting stuff, and readers lapped it up. The only problem was that none of it was true. The Edinburgh Journal of Science had stopped publication years earlier, and Grant was a fictional character. The articles were most likely written by Richard Adams Locke, a Sun reporter educated at Cambridge University. Intended as satire, they were designed to poke fun at earlier, serious speculations about extraterrestrial life, particularly those of Reverend Thomas Dick, a popular science writer who claimed in his bestselling books that the moon alone had 4.2 billion inhabitants.
Readers were completely taken in by the story, however, and failed to recognize it as satire. The craze over Herschel’s supposed discoveries even fooled a committee of Yale University scientists, who traveled to New York in search of the Edinburgh Journal articles. After Sun employees sent them back and forth between the printing and editorial offices, hoping to discourage them, the scientists returned to New Haven without realizing they had been tricked.
On September 16, 1835, the Sun admitted the articles had been a hoax. People were generally amused by the whole thing, and sales of the paper didn’t suffer. The Sun continued operation until 1950, when it merged with the New York World-Telegram. The merger folded in 1967. A new New York Sun newspaper was founded in 2002, but it has no relation to the original.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 24, 2016 is:
insinuate \in-SIN-yuh-wayt\ verb
1 a : to introduce (as an idea) gradually or in a subtle, indirect, or covert way
b : to impart or suggest in an artful or indirect way : imply
2 : to introduce (as oneself) by stealthy, smooth, or artful means
"They are confident buildings, but not boastful ones. They have a way of insinuating themselves into the landscape, behaving as if they’ve always been there." — Karrie Jacobs, Architect, 18 June 2013
"Pokemon Go players couldn't catch much on Saturday. That's because the game kept crashing. … [A] group called PoodleCorp claimed responsibility for the server crash in a series of tweets. The group also insinuated that another attack on the game was imminent." — Ahiza Garcia, CNN Wire, 16 July 2016
Did you know?
The meaning of insinuate is similar to that of another verb, suggest. Whether you suggest or insinuate something, you are conveying an idea indirectly. But although these two words share the same basic meaning, each gets the idea across in a different way. When you suggest something, you put it into the mind by associating it with other ideas, desires, or thoughts. You might say, for example, that a book's title suggests what the story is about. The word insinuate, on the other hand, usually includes a sense that the idea being conveyed is unpleasant, or that it is being passed along in a sly or underhanded way ("She insinuated that I cheated").
After centuries of dormancy, Mount Vesuvius erupts in southern Italy, devastating the prosperous Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and killing thousands. The cities, buried under a thick layer of volcanic material and mud, were never rebuilt and largely forgotten in the course of history. In the 18th century, Pompeii and Herculaneum were rediscovered and excavated, providing an unprecedented archaeological record of the everyday life of an ancient civilization, startlingly preserved in sudden death.
The ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum thrived near the base of Mount Vesuvius at the Bay of Naples. In the time of the early Roman Empire, 20,000 people lived in Pompeii, including merchants, manufacturers, and farmers who exploited the rich soil of the region with numerous vineyards and orchards. None suspected that the black fertile earth was the legacy of earlier eruptions of Mount Vesuvius. Herculaneum was a city of 5,000 and a favorite summer destination for rich Romans. Named for the mythic hero Hercules, Herculaneum housed opulent villas and grand Roman baths. Gambling artifacts found in Herculaneum and a brothel unearthed in Pompeii attest to the decadent nature of the cities. There were smaller resort communities in the area as well, such as the quiet little town of Stabiae.
At noon on August 24, 79 A.D., this pleasure and prosperity came to an end when the peak of Mount Vesuvius exploded, propelling a 10-mile mushroom cloud of ash and pumice into the stratosphere. For the next 12 hours, volcanic ash and a hail of pumice stones up to 3 inches in diameter showered Pompeii, forcing the city’s occupants to flee in terror. Some 2,000 people stayed in Pompeii, holed up in cellars or stone structures, hoping to wait out the eruption.
A westerly wind protected Herculaneum from the initial stage of the eruption, but then a giant cloud of hot ash and gas surged down the western flank of Vesuvius, engulfing the city and burning or asphyxiating all who remained. This lethal cloud was followed by a flood of volcanic mud and rock, burying the city.
The people who remained in Pompeii were killed on the morning of August 25 when a cloud of toxic gas poured into the city, suffocating all that remained. A flow of rock and ash followed, collapsing roofs and walls and burying the dead.
Much of what we know about the eruption comes from an account by Pliny the Younger, who was staying west along the Bay of Naples when Vesuvius exploded. In two letters to the historian Tacitus, he told of how “people covered their heads with pillows, the only defense against a shower of stones,” and of how “a dark and horrible cloud charged with combustible matter suddenly broke and set forth. Some bewailed their own fate. Others prayed to die.” Pliny, only 17 at the time, escaped the catastrophe and later became a noted Roman writer and administrator. His uncle, Pliny the Elder, was less lucky. Pliny the Elder, a celebrated naturalist, at the time of the eruption was the commander of the Roman fleet in the Bay of Naples. After Vesuvius exploded, he took his boats across the bay to Stabiae, to investigate the eruption and reassure terrified citizens. After going ashore, he was overcome by toxic gas and died.
According to Pliny the Younger’s account, the eruption lasted 18 hours. Pompeii was buried under 14 to 17 feet of ash and pumice, and the nearby seacoast was drastically changed. Herculaneum was buried under more than 60 feet of mud and volcanic material. Some residents of Pompeii later returned to dig out their destroyed homes and salvage their valuables, but many treasures were left and then forgotten.
In the 18th century, a well digger unearthed a marble statue on the site of Herculaneum. The local government excavated some other valuable art objects, but the project was abandoned. In 1748, a farmer found traces of Pompeii beneath his vineyard. Since then, excavations have gone on nearly without interruption until the present. In 1927, the Italian government resumed the excavation of Herculaneum, retrieving numerous art treasures, including bronze and marble statues and paintings.
The remains of 2,000 men, women, and children were found at Pompeii. After perishing from asphyxiation, their bodies were covered with ash that hardened and preserved the outline of their bodies. Later, their bodies decomposed to skeletal remains, leaving a kind of plaster mold behind. Archaeologists who found these molds filled the hollows with plaster, revealing in grim detail the death pose of the victims of Vesuvius. The rest of the city is likewise frozen in time, and ordinary objects that tell the story of everyday life in Pompeii are as valuable to archaeologists as the great unearthed statues and frescoes. It was not until 1982 that the first human remains were found at Herculaneum, and these hundreds of skeletons bear ghastly burn marks that testifies to horrifying deaths.
Today, Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano on the European mainland. Its last eruption was in 1944 and its last major eruption was in 1631. Another eruption is expected in the near future, would could be devastating for the 700,000 people who live in the “death zones” around Vesuvius.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 23, 2016 is:
journeyman \JER-nee-mun\ noun
1 : a worker who has learned a trade and works for another person usually by the day
2 : an experienced reliable worker, athlete, or performer especially as distinguished from one who is brilliant or colorful
"I started working exclusively as an actor when I was 25 years old…. I was a journeyman actor, working here and there. And I loved it." — Bryan Cranston, quoted in The Los Angeles Times, 28 Feb. 2016
"Rich Hill is 36 and likely to be the most sought-after pitcher on the trade market, but he claims he doesn't see it that way. The transformation from journeyman to a pitcher with electric stuff has been stunning at his age." — Nick Cafardo, The Boston Globe, 10 July 2016
Did you know?
The journey in journeyman refers to a sense of the familiar word not often used anymore: "a day's labor." This sense of journey was first used in the 14th century. When journeyman appeared the following century, it originally referred to a person who, having learned a handicraft or trade through an apprenticeship, worked for daily wages. In the 16th century, journeyman picked up a figurative (and mainly deprecatory) sense; namely, "one who drudges for another." These days, however, journeyman has little to do with drudgery, and lots to do with knowing a trade inside out.
On this day in 1902, pioneering cookbook author Fannie Farmer, who changed the way Americans prepare food by advocating the use of standardized measurements in recipes, opens Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery in Boston. In addition to teaching women about cooking, Farmer later educated medical professionals about the importance of proper nutrition for the sick.
Farmer was born March 23, 1857, and raised near Boston, Massachusetts. Her family believed in education for women and Farmer attended Medford High School; however, as a teenager she suffered a paralytic stroke that turned her into a homebound invalid for a period of years. As a result, she was unable to complete high school or attend college and her illness left her with a permanent limp. When she was in her early 30s, Farmer attended the Boston Cooking School. Founded in 1879, the school promoted a scientific approach to food preparation and trained women to become cooking teachers at a time when their employment opportunities were limited. Farmer graduated from the program in 1889 and in 1891 became the school’s principal. In 1896, she published her first cookbook, The Boston Cooking School Cookbook, which included a wide range of straightforward recipes along with information on cooking and sanitation techniques, household management and nutrition. Farmer’s book became a bestseller and revolutionized American cooking through its use of precise measurements, a novel culinary concept at the time.
In 1902, Farmer left the Boston Cooking School and founded Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery. In addition to running her school, she traveled to speaking engagements around the U.S. and continued to write cookbooks. In 1904, she published Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent, which provided food recommendations for specific diseases, nutritional information for children and information about the digestive system, among other topics. Farmer’s expertise in the areas of nutrition and illness led her to lecture at Harvard Medical School.
Farmer died January 15, 1915, at age 57. After Farmer’s death, Alice Bradley, who taught at Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery, took over the business and ran it until the mid-1940s. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook is still in print today.