Monday, January 13, 2014

Observations in a new year


Giant paperclip at Spanish Fort, Alabama

Husband Walter and I have actually been to one of the 10 weird Alabama sites to visit that Kelly Kazek listed in an article I saw recently in the Mobile Press Register. 

I was amazed that there was another person in the universe interested enough in a giant blue paperclip to actually write about it. Just who is Kelly Kazek? My curiosity was piqued. 

Please note that I used "piqued" and not "peeked" or "peaked." I have deleted several free Kindle books after the repeated incorrect use of those three words or for other recurring vocabulary or grammatical transgressions.

I googled to be sure I spelled “piqued” correctly. Are there some words that you just never are totally confident that you are getting the spelling right?

To check I went to Vocabulary.com here, a site I had not encountered before. It was a lot more entertaining than the dictionary sites I regularly check. 
 
But when did “homophone” instead of “homonym” come into use for words that are spelled differently but pronounced the same? 

That’s the trouble with Google. One search just raises more questions. But I digress. These vocabulary observations are mere divagations.

Ta da! 

“Divagations” is my first new word of 2014. The definition from the Free Online Dictionary is “the act of digressing; wandering off the subject.”

I encountered the word in Alexander Nazaryan’s essay here on Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World, a book by Timothy Morton. The essay was linked from “The Browser: writing worth reading.” Nazaryan piqued my interest with a peek at Morton’s work.

Why did Nazaryan use “divagations” instead of the simpler and more familiar, at least to me, “digressions” or “ramblings”? Thesaurus.com did include "divagation" as one of the 14 synonyms for digression. 

But the snippet of information in the first definition at Vocabulary.com enlightened me: "any diversion intended to distract attention from the main issue."


Nazaryan was introducing Morton's discussion of ideas so incomprehensible that we may not even be able to think about them. They are far different from mundane concerns that usually garner attention and that divert human beings from grappling with thoughts of monumental realities and possibilities. 

Nazaryan's prose was precise, not pretentious. Or his word choice could have been sly humor sparked by the breadth of the book’s subject, and I totally failed to get it.

I, however, used "divagations," simply as a synonym for "digressions." Uh oh. Redundant! Perhaps I need to cut back a bit on rants about the shortcomings of some ebook authors. At least they are actually producing something!

  Oh well. Back to Kelly of the paperclip. Kelly Kazek is the North Alabama region reporter and humor columnist for al.com. She is an award-winning journalist and humor writer and the author of eight books, according to the Alabama online news site al.com.

Through Google I also found a bio here that she had written and posted during an earlier news position. I chuckled, read more of her columns from that stage in her career, and laughed some more.

I am sure my fascination with the big blue paperclip, #9 on Kelly’s list, will cement my status as a seasoned and sophisticated traveler. On our way to various Alabama and Florida destinations along the northern Gulf of Mexico, we sometimes take the old causeway across Mobile Bay instead of Interstate 10. 

That's when we pass that paperclip in Spanish Fort, Alabama. Husband Walter treated me to a surprise paper clip photo op stop in March of 2010. I eventually posted about it here

May delightful adventures be yours this year.

8 comments:

Sandra said...

well this could have been written by E-ODD me...i love the vocabulary sight, and have now saved it in my favorites.. never heard of homophone or divagations and also in southern speak, peeked, peaked and piqued do not sound alike because i say piqued as peeged
who write all this stuff and who wrote the first one...
i have noticed in Kindle there is a lot of spelling phonetically
If i get this right, divagation is when we digress to fool people in order they don't know what we are talking about. this said I guess Congress and the Senate are experts at divagational speaking. See i just made up a new word using the new word you taught me. by the way, the red squiggle under the new word had no idea how to spell it.

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

If you don't watch Bill O'Reilly on Fox, you might enjoy him (or the last 5 minutes of his show). A former English teacher in a Catholic boys school, he is invested in saving old English words from extinction, and always has a 'word of the day'. Love this post and I will now divagate out of here. Dianne

Retired English Teacher said...

Very interesting. I do get quite upset with Kindle because of all the mistakes in the books I read. I find myself marking them. It's the English teacher in me. I can't help myself.

I make many typos when I write blogs and make comments on blogs. In my typing, and thinking as I type, I also make more mistakes than I wish I would. I need to be a better editor. It seems I'm always submitting 'rough' drafts to be published, so I shouldn't be so critical of others.

gigihawaii said...

In high school, I used to read Webster's Dictionary for fun. I think that is what boosted my verbal scores to 98% and 99% on the National Merit Exam. Lol. Big deal, ha! Love this post, as I love words.

Mage said...

Just delightful digressions. What fun to read this piece. There's another big office piece at the Smithsonian....one of those round typewriter erasers with a brush. Love this one too.

Freda said...

You ought to be a comments writer in a Sunday supplement or paper! I am so glad you write for us in your blog though.
Blessings from Dalamory
www.freda.org.uk

photowannabe said...

I am such a poor speller but I do have fits over common misspellings of things like there and their, then and than and even peak and peek.
This is a terrific post and I have now learned a new word.
Have a wonderful day Linda.

photowannabe said...

PS...I just thought of the other words that drive me crazy when people write to and too and two.