Category Archives: Word of the Day Haiku

Perlocutionary -Friday’s Word of the Day

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Today’s word of the day on dictionary.com is a whopper, and therefore quite the challenge when constrained by the limited syllable budget of a Haiku. I shall nevertheless give it its due. Perlocutionary is an adjective that describes a type of speech that persuades, enlightens, inspires, frightens, or amuses the listener, causing them to act. Philosopher, J.L. Austin explains it perfectly in this excerpt from “How to Do Things with Words”, written in 1962: “We can similarly distinguish the locutionary act ‘he said that’ …from the illocutionary act ‘he argued that’…and the perlocutionary act ‘he convinced me that’…”

The word perlocution has been around since the 16th century originally meaning the act of speaking. It basis was formed from the Latin locutio, “speech, speaking, discourse”, a derivative of the verb loqui, “to speak”. Its present iteration as a noun and adjective did not enter the English language until the 20th century with the addition of the prefix ‘per’ meaning “through, complete or perfect” (as in brought to completion).

I learned that there are stages in the application of locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts. While it would seem that the latter is the more refined direct act of the three I was surprised to discover that, in fact, infants between the age of 0-8 months are masters in the art of perlocutionary discourse through the use of sounds and gestures. Every whimper, coo and cry has an affect on the hearer, causing them to act. Eventually the child begins to repeat actual words (locutionary acts) and to apply them with meaning as in the words “no” or “why” (illocutionary acts).

It’s all very interesting of course. And way over my head. I have rarely bothered myself to determine whether a speech or statement is locutionary, illocutionary or perlocutionary, but I do admit to being moved and swayed by words. A simple cry for help raises my adrenaline and propels me into help mode. And a temper tantrum can shut me down in no time flat.

We are so easily convinced by words. I doubt that I’ll take time to analyze the words that move me, next time it happens. Even though I now have a word for it. Perlocutionary acts…my biggest challenge at the moment is figuring out how to fit a six syllable word into a Haiku. But at least now you have a new word to file in your vocabulary drawer under “words that are nice to know”.😊

words of gloom and doom,
perlocutionary acts,
drive fools to folly

~kat

http://www.dictionary.com/wordoftheday/2017/10/20/perlocutionary


Moribund – Friday’s Word of the Day

It’s Friday the 13th! I missed last week’s word of the day post…technical difficulties. But I’m back this week with a word from Dictionary.com that is quite apropos for this bleak rainy (at least in my corner of the world) Friday…Moribund.

It originated in Latin from the adjective moribundus as well as 16th Century French moribond both which mean about to die, dying and is a derivative of the Latin root mer- (to die). We picked up this word in the English language in the 18th century and carried over its meaning as both an adjective and a noun. As an adjective it means: in a dying state; near death; on the verge of extinction or termination; not progressing or advancing; stagnant: a moribund political party for example. And as a noun: a person who is dying. 

Several heavy metal bands have incorporated this word into their names, record titles or songs. For example, Moribund Oblivion, a Turkish black metal band from Istanbul, Moribund (album), a 2006 album by the Norwegian black metal band Koldbrann, “Moribund the Burgermeister“, a 1977 song by British progressive rock musician Peter Gabriel, and Moribund Records, a heavy metal record label.

This term is also used in medical circles, as one might expect, referring to end of life symptoms, characteristics and stages: ‘on examination she was moribund and dehydrated”.

And of course one can also find it coined in political commentary and all manner things that are near death, fading, or not thriving: “But that market has been moribund, to say the least.” “Blowhard politicians trumpeted moral outrage to gratify moribund anti-communists.” Or “Prices in Japan are falling, so moribund is the economy.”

I can’t believe I haven’t come across this scrumptious word until now. But thanks to this little weekly exercise I have one more word in my toolbox. Moribund. It has such a smooth poetic sound, don’t you think? And I expect it will be quite useful when I’m in a melancholy mood.

Here are a few Haiku/Senryu then. Have a great weekend!

treetops of crimson
moribund leaves once verdant
on the wind take flight

it’s over you know
this moribund ruse of ours
it was never love

tempests and earthquakes,
the moribund harbingers
of an earth dying

~kat


Lonely-Hearts – Friday’s Word of the Day

lonelyhearts

Today’s Word of the Day on dictionary.com is lonely-hearts. It is defined as: of or for people seeking counseling or companionship to bring love or romance into their lives: a lonely-hearts column in the newspaper or in more modern terms, online dating sites. Dictionary.com also explains the origin of lonely-hearts as:

The noun lonely heart in the sense “a lonely or friendless person” and the adjective lonely-hearts, referring especially to a column or feature in a newspaper feature entered English nearly simultaneously. The terms are probably most closely associated with the novel Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West (1903-40). The noun lonely heart entered English in 1932; the adjective lonely-hearts entered English in 1933.

I was intrigued by the reference to Nathanael West’s novel Miss Lonelyhearts. “Miss” Lonelyhearts was actually an anonymous male journalist who wrote an advice column for a New York newspaper during the Depression. Not only was Lonelyheart considered something of a joke by the newspaper staffers, but he allegedly fell into a deep depression, burdened by the desperate letters from his readers. This led Lonelyheart on a downward spiral of heavy drinking and bar brawls and a few affairs, the last of which would lead to his ironic demise. Despite all this he tried desperately to escape the pain of the letters, traveling to the countryside with his fiance and by turning to religion. It was only after he had a religious epiphany that he met his end at the hands of the husband of his latest mistress. This black comedy, as it was described, weaves elements of Marxist ideology, religion, the sad state of a valueless world and the cynicism of a “machine” that mass produces empty solutions to systemic problems of society.

It’s easy to see, from this best-selling book of the 1930’s, how “lonely-hearts” became an adjective. And despite the lessons of the book, it is interesting to note that we still seek advice from sterile advice columns. We read daily horoscopes hoping for direction or affirmation of what we already know or hope for. We seek entertainment to escape the reality of our lives. And we seek love by scanning fabricated personal profiles on online dating sites. But it all falls flat, because we do these things anonymously, without having to bare our heart and soul. It is no wonder we are forever searching for answers, because the answers we seek, answers that truly make a difference, need to be personal, not mass-tabloid, bottom of the birdcage-lining rags. Poor Lonelyheart. I get the sense from reading a summary of the book, that he finally finds his answers through a spiritual awakening. But he meets his end, all the same, at the hands of an enraged man who fails to see his change of heart for what it is. I think that is the greatest tragedy of all.

How often do we hear it said that someone can feel lonely even in a room full of people. Modern technology, instant gratification, social media, texting, tweeting, all keep us disconnected and detached from each other.

But there are moments. Eye contact and smiles from strangers that stop you in your tracks and ignite a spark in your heart. That moment’s connection can change you. I live for those moments. We all do. And the best thing about recognizing this is that we can be this moment for another person. Being, not receiving, can change us too. Make eye contact…smile. It will change your life.

Well! I certainly didn’t see all that coming. It’s amazing what can come of ruminating over a simple word of the day. Lonely-heart. Here’s a Haiku to wrap things up.

lonely-hearts flutter
to pipe-dreams on inked pages
like moths to a flame

~kat


Deciduous – Friday’s Word of the Day

Happy Autumn! Today’s very timely Word of the Day at Dictionary.com is Deciduous. It is defined as: shedding the leaves annually, as certain trees and shrubs; falling off or shed at a particular  season, stage of growth, etc., as leaves, horns, or teeth; not permanent; transitory.

Dictionary.com gives a nice history of the word:
The English adjective deciduous is straight from Latin, dēciduus  “falling off or down,  tending to fall off or down,”  formed from  the  preposition  (and prefix “down,  from”) and the verb, cadere (combining form –cidere “to fall”).  In Latin dēciduus is used for leaves  (dēcidua folia), (baby) teeth (dēciduτ dentēs), descending testicles ( testēs dēciduτ), and, charmingly, for shooting stars or falling stars (dēcidua sidera). Deciduous entered English in the 17th century.

My google search led me to the fascinating world of desiduous trees. In the process I learned a few new words and a bit more about the seasonal process of abscission (the dropping of leaves).

In fact, some of those the brilliant fall colors are dormant in the leaves. It is the surge of chlorophyll in the warmth of summer or the wetness of rainy seasons that give leaves their green color. As the days cool and the sun wanes, or when the trees are drought-stressed, less chlorophyll is produced allowing the leaf’s other colors to be revealed. Yellows, oranges and browns are called carotenoids. The reds and purples, are produced by Anthocyanin pigments and are the result of sugars produced and trapped in the leaves later in the summer after the abscission process begins.

An abscission layer is formed in the spring that allows the leaf to eventually fall away from the stem. It is held together by a hormone produced by the leaf called auxin. Auxin production is also sensitive to climate changes and dry seasons, and eventually slows in production allowing the abscission layer to elongate and the leaf to fall away. Amazingly it also forms a seal, so the tree does not lose sap.

Deciduous trees lose their foliage to conserve water and better survive the harshness of winter. There are some trees that are partially deciduous. Meaning they do not lose all their leaves. This is called marcsescence. There are several benefits to retaining dead leaves. One may be to deter large animals like deer and elk from eating their limbs and twigs where springs buds lie dormant. It may also help certain trees with water retention and protection against the elements.

Eventually even marcescent leaves fall, making way for the blooming buds of spring. But not the leaves. Not yet. There is a very good reason for this. The absence of leaves allows insects to see the blooms more easily, which assists with pollination. It also allows seeds and pollen to flow more freely on the warm spring breezes. And the cycle continues!

Isn’t that amazing?! I never knew these details. If not for today’s word of the day, I might never have known how intricately planned out the life of a tree is. I hope I didn’t bore you with my rambling. I just love learning new things!

I guess I better get to my little Haiku then. Have a great weekend. Go hug a tree! ❤️🌳❤️🌳

poor marcescent tree
partially deciduous
clinging is futile

~kat


Ostensible – Friday’s Word of the Day

Today’s Word of the Day fro the Free Dictionary is Ostensible. It entered the English language in the Mid 18th century: from French, from medieval Latin ostensibilis from Latin ostens- ‘stretched out to view’, from the verb ostendere, from ob- ‘in view of’ + tendere ‘to stretch’. It means “Stated or appearing to be true, but not necessarily so.”

When I looked for examples of this word used in a sentence, I was inundated with a many references to politics, religion and conflicts touted to be something they were not. These examples certainly prove one thing: that human nature and how we accomplish what motivates us through deception hasn’t changed much. Here are a few quotes to show you what I mean from Your Dictionary.com:

‘It was a simple matter to manipulate these so as to throw the effective power into the hands of the propertied classes without ostensibly The depriving any one of the vote.’

‘The Federal government now attempted to enlist recruits, ostensibly to protect the western frontier from the Indians, but actually for the suppression of the insurrection; but the plan failed from lack of funds, and the insurgents continued to interrupt the procedure of the courts.’

‘In any case the countess profited by the cardinal’s conviction to borrow from him sums of money destined ostensibly for the queen’s works of charity.’

‘A serious outbreak took place at Adrianople in 1804, where 20,000 of the new troops had been sent, ostensibly to put down the revolt in Servia, but really to try to bring about the reform of the European provinces.’

‘In June 1770 Frederick surrounded those of the Polish provinces he coveted with a military cordon, ostensibly to keep out the cattle plague.’

‘It is a striking example of the way in which such legends grow, that it is only the latest of these authorities, Hsiian Tsang, who says that, though ostensibly approaching the Buddha with a view to reconciliation, Devadatta had concealed poison in his nail with the object of murdering the Buddha.’

See what I mean? Power, politics, and faux piety are fertile ground for application of this word. Very timely indeed! Here are a few Haiku.

Have a great weekend!

WMD’s
Ostensibly caused the war
But it was revenge

motives are revealed
ostensibly kind acts
become self-serving

ostensible posts
impress anonymously
online mugs deceive

~kat


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