Feb 26, 2003

Get smart!

Today's Merriam-Webster word of the day is weltanschauung. That's rich. What's also interesting is that, if I were to try to explain what it means, I would be tempted to use the word gestalt. Do you think the Germans have it all plotted out so that you can only explain their language by using their language? Was it a platform of the Weimar Republic? I sure do love German words. I think you have to work harder for them than for their latin counterparts. There are words in Japanese that are as triumphant for me. I love it when the meaning of a word has such delicate nuances as to only be explicable through a more thorough study of the language of its origin.

For expeditiousness' sake, Merriam-Webster defines the word as "a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint." There is also a literal translation of it to mean "world view."

I like to look at the various words of the day and pit the services against one another. Today, Merriam-Webster beats out A Word a Day's gormless and Dictionary.com's complaisant. It wins because I didn't already know the word and because it's extra fancy with all those vowels in a row!

I like to look at the words of the day, but I'm not in the habit of employing them right away. Maybe it's a fear that someone else receiving an email from me with the word in it -- someone who also subscribes to such services -- will assume I didn't already know the word or that I can only find inspiration in subscription-based information. I'll protest, "But I already knew that word. The email just reminded me of it." And then I will sound like someone who is afraid to appear to not know everything. I am not afraid to not know everything. But I am afraid of being thought to be afraid of that.

posted by Mary Forrest at 10:03 AM | Back to Monoblog


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