Friday, June 17, 2005
Weird and Wonderful: Don’t Be Camstairy or Lucifugous, Read This Post!
More of Erin’s Weird and Wonderful Words:
an ill-sounding synonym for omnipotent, with the same meaning. Cunctitenent means ‘having all things’.
an adjective meaning ‘like a flower’ or ‘flowery’. Also written flosculose. From a Latin word meaning ‘little flower’, which also gives us floscule, ‘something shaped like a little flower’ or ’ a flowery speech’ and flosculation, ‘speaking in a flowery way’.
a tool for writing used by a blind person. The noctograph seems to have used an early form of carbon paper, with wires to guide the pen or stylus of the writer. The word also means ‘a device or log to track the progress of night watchmen or guards on their rounds’. From Latin words meaning ‘night’ and ‘writing’.
a Scots adjective meaning ‘perverse, willful, or obstinate’. Possibly related to cam, ‘crooked’.
an adjective meaning ‘causing perspiration’, either through effort or in a medical way. Also, thankfully more rarely, ‘consisting of sweat’.
an adjective meaning ‘shunning the light’. From Latin words meaning ‘light’ and ‘to flee’. This was usually used as a near synonym for ‘nocturnal’ but seems much more poetic; instead of seeking the night, they are shunning the light. A similar adjective is lucifugal.
Don’t Argue With This Article
Found this while stumbling through the archives of Language:
How Children Constrain Their Argument Structure Constructions
Patricia J. Brooks; Michael Tomasello
Language, Vol. 75, No. 4. (Dec., 1999), pp. 720-738.
We tested two hypotheses about how English-speaking children learn to avoid
making argument structure errors such as Don’t giggle me. The first is that
children base their usage of verbs on membership in narrow-range semantic
classes (Pinker 1989). The second is that children make use of indirect
negative evidence in the form of alternative expressions that preempt
tendencies to overgeneralize. Ninety-six children (32 each at 2.5, 4.5, and 6/7
years of age) were introduced to two nonce verbs, one as a transitive verb and
one as an intransitive verb. One verb was from a semantic class that can be
used both transitively and intransitively while the other was from a fixed
transitivity class. Half of the children were given preempting alternatives
with both verbs; for example, they heard a verb in a simple transitive
construction (as in Ernie’s meeking the car) and then they also heard it in a
passive construction-which enabled them to answer the question ‘What’s
happening with the car?’ with It’s getting meeked (rather than generalizing to
the intransitive construction with It’s meeking). We found empirical support
for the constraining role of verb classes and of preemption, but only for
children 4.5 years of age and older. Results are discussed in terms of a model
of syntactic development in which children begin with lexically specific
linguistic constructions and only gradually learn to differentiate verbs as
lexical items from argument structure constructions as abstract linguistic