Friday, February 29, 2008

. . . and a day

Notice anything odd about the third word down? The answer to come; the image originally from here.

It's February 29th, a day that literally doesn't come along all that often. Perhaps appropriately, then, I've learned two weird things today that seem worthy of perpetuating:

Via Edge of the American West comes this story of the all-too-brief existence of a word. It's too complicated a tale to condense or excerpt here; just go and read, then tell me if it's not one of the coolest stories of things lexicographical you've ever read.

Via this story on the movement to create a 13-month, 28-day calendar, I learned that Peter Bogdanovich--yep, that one--is a serious student of calendars and an advocate of the 13-month calendar. It was through the interview with him, by the way, that I learned that the phrase ". . . and a day" (as in "a year and a day") comes from the fact that many ancient cultures had 13-month calendars of 28 days, but that meant a year of 364 days, so an extra day had to be added to the calendar, a New Year's Day, so the calendar would be in synch with the Earth's orbit.

Anyway. Class dismissed. I'll see you again in four years.


Winston said...

Fascinating little story about the word dord, m'lord. Makes me wonder how many others there could be, well at least before the modern era with computers checking and cross-checking everything.

John B. said...

That's what I wondered, too, Winston. In the old days of hand-copying texts, eye-skips of words, inadvertent(?) additions/deletions of words, etc., were, as you'd imagine, quite common. And in these days of auto-correcting word-processing software, I'm beginning to see a paradoxical return to those ancient days . . . except my students aren't quite as vigilant as monks precisely because a chief effect of these softwares is to make its users less vigilant.

Anyway. I'm glad you enjoyed that little narrative.

R. Sherman said...

Perhaps we should start a movement to bring back "dord," as in, "The dord of my butt seems to be increasing from sitting here all day." If we all vow to use the word at least one time per day, then eventually, it will work its way back. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but some day.

I better stop before I slap on a fedora and start talking to Louis.