Monthly Archives: April 2012

Dead words

Dead words?  I guess some do go out of favor and new ones crop up.  I recently got an email from someone named Karen in Los Angles.  Here is some of what she shard in the email.

The Dead Words is a collection of lettering for omitted words. Based on its original definition, I invite other designers, typographer, and letterers to reinterpret the dead word through a piece of hand lettering. I have a lot of fun learning about those words and hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I do!

See what you think–go to her dead words website.  It’s colorful and educational.


Flexitarian – do you know one?

I had not heard the term flexitarian until my daughter-in-law mentioned it in a Facebook post. She was referencing the fact that her husband, my son, is a flexitarian.

Way back in 2003, the American Dialect Society voted the word flexitarian as the year’s most useful word. The group defined it as “a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat.” That would be my son. I know some of the wise guys who read this and make funny comments (keep them coming) probably thought a flexitarian was someone who can bend over and touch his or her toes. The term semi-vegetarianism is another term used to describe diets that are basically vegetarian-based with the inclusion of occasional meat products. Occasionally is a vague term, but there seems to be no set number applied to this.

Here is the entire list of people who eat a little or no meat:

Flexitarians are omnivore who mostly eat a plant-based diet but also eat animal meat occasionally.

Pollotarians eat chicken or other poultry and sometimes fish. They do not eat meat from mammals. They usually adopt this diet for environmental or food justice reasons.

Pescetarians will eat fish or other seafood, but not poultry or red meat from mammals.

Pesce-pollotarians eat only “white meat” such as poultry and fish. They do not eat “red meat” from mammals. Some exceptions are made for non-mammal red meat poultry from ostrich, emu or rheas.

• A macrobiotic diet is plant-based, and may or may not include the occasional fish or other seafood.

• Last but not least is the vegan. They omit all animal products from the diet.



Are you a troglodyte?

TROGLODYTE   I love it when I see a new word or one I do not know what it means.  In today’s newspaper  (yes, I still read them) there was a letter to the editor that included the word troglodyte.

This sent me scurrying for the dictionary.  Actually, it made me do a Google search of the word troglodyte.

Here is what I found:

For one, it means someone who lives in a cave, especially if they are a member of a cave-dwelling community.  

It also means a loner–someone living by themself or who is antisocial.

Additionally, the label of troglodyte can be applied to someone who  has reclusive habits, is outmoded or has reactionary attitudes

Rubric vs. rubik

Rubrics, not rubik’s cubes, are the focus of this entry in

I really did not know about rubrics until I started teaching at the college level.

Basically, a rubric is an assessment tool. It helps communicate standards of performance to students. This might be for an essay, term paper, speech or sometimes the entire course.

It informs the student ahead of time on what factors will be judged or graded by the instructor. The rubric consists of two components—criteria and levels of performance.

When I was teaching a class in public speaking, the speeches had a rubric so students knew what I was grading as they spoke. The criteria section might include body language, vocal variety, content, gestures, intro and summary, etc.  Each of these sections would have a number value from 1 to 5 or 1 to 10.

At the end of each speech, it was just a matter of adding up the numbers to see how well each speaker did, and rank them against the other students.

It wasn’t until the mid 1900s that rubric took  on the meaning it has for educators. Originally it was written instructions (penned in red ink) for religious services. Sometimes the term was used to describe the decorative text in medieval writings.

That wonderful,  colorful cube of a puzzle on the other hand, is an entirely different subject.

Redunant words — again

Redundant words are one of my favorite topics.  See my earlier blog post on redundant words and redundancies.

At last weekend’s Northern Colorado Writers Conference in Fort Collins, I was again reminded of this topic.  (Find out more about Northern Colorado Writers)

During a break between sessions, I was having a soft drink and chatting with some other conference attendees and one of the agents who attended.  A wonderful fringe benefit about the NCW conference is that the presenters and agents in attendance mingle during breaks, and sit at the tables with the writers at meal times. 

Steve Mettee, one of the agents, sat with us as we took a short respite from the educational sessions.  We all chatted with him about where he was from (California), things to do in Fort Collins, and other conferences he has attended.

Steve was nice enough to ask me about my writing, so I told him about  Steve shared his love for words, and said he has a pet redundancy that bothered him.

Mettee’s example, which I haven’t address in past redundant word blog posts, was “the reason why.”  
I agree with Steve.  It should be ‘the reason” or “why.”   Not both.

This ranks up there with my semi-rant about the somewhat unique redundancy.

As an aside, Steve’s company is called Quill Driver Books.  Quill driver is an interesting term–look it  up.