Wondrous Words #58
One the most enjoyable items of modern technology is the instant access to all sorts of information. I remember the days when we had to make a special trip to the library when we needed to look something up in the encyclopedia. Now information is just a click away. I enjoy using Wikipedia. Every day on the home page, there is a special feature. This past week they had this picture of a beautiful Australian songbird. But the first paragraph had me reaching for my dictionary, online of course. Here’s what I found, all in one paragraph.
The Superb Fairywren is a common and familiar passerine bird of the Maluridae family. Sedentary and territorial, it is found across south-eastern Australia. The species exhibits a high degree of sexual dimorphism; the male in breeding plumage has a striking bright blue forehead, ear coverts, mantle, and tail, with a black mask and black or dark blue throat. Non-breeding males, females and juveniles are predominantly grey-brown in colour; this gave the early impression that males were polygamous as all dull-coloured birds were taken for females.
1. Passerine refers to birds that are adapted to perching. That includes all songbirds.
2. Dimorphism refers to something representing two distinct forms.
3. Covert is not the same as “covert ops” as in a thriller, but close. In ornithology it means the feathers covering the main bases. In this case, the feathers covering the Fairywren’s ears.
4. Polygamous in this sentence also means having more than one mate, no different from the human form of polygamy.
What new words did you find this week? I hope you’ll join us in Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy, our stouthearted (courageous, determined) leader.
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Several people asked me last week how I go about catching all the new words while I am reading. Here’s my method: I use post-its or sticky papers, whatever you call them. I prefer the kind the are only about a half-inch across and maybe an inch and a half long.
When I start a new book I put about a half dozen into the front of the book. When I come to a new word I put the sticky note in the sentence where the new word occurs and then let the end stick out a little bit so I can find it again later. If the word is really a stopper, I’ll go find a dictionary right away.
I also use the papers to mark a special passage I may want to quote or talk about in my review. What did I do before the invention of sticky notes? Don’t tell anyone but I bent the pages – bottom of the page for new words and top of the page for quotes or special passages. But I never, ever did that in a library book. I learned about the sacredness of library books when I was seven and left my books out in the rain.