Tag Archives: words

The Multilingual Keyboard

multilingualI was once reading “Diacritical Issues for Multilingual Searching” – yes, I read things with titles like that – by Susanne Bjorner. Actually, by Susanne Bjørner. It appeared back in the January 2008 issue of Searcher magazine. It goes on about whether you miss information when you fail to use those diacritical marks over letters (using the n instead of the ñ, for instance) when you search. For the most part, the answer is no, since most databases will translate the ñ as an n.

Still, if one is writing a lot in a different language one could change the keyboard, by opening regional and language options, click on language tabs, under installed… Wait a minute, I only want to use those diacritical letters occasionally, to write someone’s name properly. Well, for that, Bjørner came up with this nifty cheat sheet. It involves using the Alt key and numeric keypad to the right of the QWERTY keyboard. Hold the Alt key, type in the four numbers, then release. Thus:

Alt 0193 Á
Alt 0225 á

Alt 0197 Å
Alt 0229 å

Alt 0198 Æ
Alt 0230 æ

Alt 0201 É
Alt 0233 é

Alt 0235 ë

Alt 0205 Í
Alt 0237 í

Alt 0211 Ó
Alt 0243 ó

Alt 0214 Ö
Alt 0246 ö

Alt 0216 Ø
Alt 0248 ø

Alt 0218 Ú
Alt 0250 ú

Alt 0220 Ü
Alt 0252 ü

Alt 0209 Ñ
Alt 0241 ñ

At home, I found I had to have my Num Lock on, but not at work.

But here’s an issue: your laptop may not HAVE a numerical keypad. So, you’ll need to create a Word file with the cheat sheet on your standard computer, save it to the laptop, then copy and paste. Still, if you prefer writing María to Maria – if that’s the way she spells her name – this is a lovely way to create linguistically more accurate names.

Tittynope, or ort, and poor Lazarus

tittymouse As is my wont, I checked out the Grandiloquent Word of the Day, which, for a day in late February, was tittynope. The term was SO peculiar that I had to check it in
another source. And sure enough – “Tittynope: (noun) a small quantity of anything left over, whether a few beans on a dinner plate or the dregs at the bottom of a cup.”

My old friend Hadiya – she’s not that old, but… – asked if it was related to the word ort. I’d say, definitionally, yes.
Continue reading Tittynope, or ort, and poor Lazarus

I blame Miley Cyrus and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

I have a reasonably large vocabulary, I suppose. Some words, particularly newer ones, apparently elude me, however. Twerking and selfie have been added to the Oxford Dictionary of English recently, and I had been largely oblivious to both terms.

Oh, I had vaguely heard of twerking, when some white female celeb was accused of doing it on a video – I no longer know (or particularly care) who – a few months (or years?) ago. But it’s like the name of the second person I meet at a party where I know no one; it slips off into the ether of my mind. It wasn’t until the infamous Miley Cyrus incident on some awards show recently, that I don’t watch but got lots of coverage, did it finally stick. Oh, yeah, twerking: OK, got it. Continue reading I blame Miley Cyrus and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

G is for Gaslighting

When I was living in Charlotte, NC for a few months in early 1977, I wasn’t particularly thrilled. The city was, in the words of my father “a big old country town”; BTW, it’s gotten much better there, IMO.

One of my few outlets was to go to the main library and read books and magazines, or see movies. One of the films I saw was Gaslight. It was the 1944 US version, not the 1940 UK take; both were based on a 1938 play, Gas Light. The iteration I saw “was directed by George Cukor and starred Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten, and 18-year-old Angela Lansbury in her screen debut.”

Without getting into the particulars of why: “Paula loses a brooch that Gregory had given her Continue reading G is for Gaslighting

(Fairly) New in the Dictionary

I was clearing out some old newspapers when I came across the continuation of a story from August about words being added to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, which I meant to write about at the time. That ever happen to you? Here’s the article.

Shown below are some of the words, along with a few thoughts about them. The years indicate first documented use.

aha moment
– n (1939) a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension

Surprised this didn’t make it sooner.

brain cramp
– n (1982): an instance of temporary mental confusion resulting in an error or lapse of judgment

There are some variations on this term that may be more popular.

bucket list
– n (2006): a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying

I was really shocked Continue reading (Fairly) New in the Dictionary

P is for Portmanteau

A portmanteau word is a word that’s made up of 2 other words; for instance, motel from motor hotel, smog from smoke and fog, brunch between breakfast and lunch, chortle from chuckle and snort, malware from malicious software, or the previously mentioned gerrymander. Here are more portmanteau words.

From JEOPARDY! in 2001: “Lewis Carroll coined the term ‘portmanteau word’, explaining how “slithy” combines these 2 words.” Continue reading P is for Portmanteau


The wallpaper is beginning to peel in our bedroom, probably because of a leak, now fixed by the new roof we got this summer. It’s always something with a house that’s about a century old. I said to The Wife, “This house is giving me agita.” She thought I had made up the word; I had not.

Agita (n) – a feeling of agitation or anxiety. “Judging by its spelling and meaning, you might think that ‘agita’ is simply a shortened version of ‘agitation,’ but that’s not the case. Both ‘agitation’ and the verb ‘agitate’ derive from Latin ‘agere’ (‘to drive’). ‘Agita,’ which first appeared in American English in the early 1980s, comes from a dialectical pronunciation of the Italian word ‘acido,’ meaning ‘heartburn’ or ‘acid,’ from Latin ‘acidus.’ (‘Agita’ is also occasionally used in English with the meaning ‘heartburn.’) For a while the word’s usage was limited to New York City and surrounding regions, but the word became more widespread in the mid-90s.”

So the Wife says, “Where did you learn that word?” Continue reading Words QUESTION

I Can't SAY That Word QUESTION

There was a 1980 hit song by a group called the Barracudas called Summer Fun, from an album I happen to own; in fact, a mail order customer at FantaCo sent it to me in gratitude. The introduction to the song comes from an ad c. 1967; the story line was that a Plymouth car dealer couldn’t say the word Barracuda, problematic because the hot Plymouth car that year was supposedly the Barracuda. (The whole ad can be heard, after the 27 second mark, here.

What reminded me of this was the fact that I was doing a reference question last month and realized I could not say the word Continue reading I Can't SAY That Word QUESTION