a crescent-shaped sand dune with the convex side in the direction of the wind.
Barchan “a crescent-shaped sand dune” is a borrowing by way of Russian barkhan from Kazakh barxan, of the same meaning. Kazakh is a member of the Turkic language family, which is found in large pockets from the eastern Mediterranean to central Siberia, as we learned about in the etymology for the recent Word of the Day yurt. Because most Turkic language-speaking countries today were once part of the former USSR, the Russian language has absorbed numerous loanwords from Turkic tongues, from Abkhaz and Azerbaijani in the west of Asia to Kazakh and Kyrgyz in the center. Barchan was first recorded in English in the late 1880s.
If Star Wars: The Phantom Menace had an epilogue, you might call it The Barchan Invasion. That’s because a crescent-shaped sand dune called a barchan is slowly swallowing the spot in the Sahara that played Anakin Skywalker’s hometown in the movie. The set, erected outside the Tunisian city of Tozeur and used as a backdrop for the 1999 film—a “prequel” to George Lucas’s wildly popular Star Wars trilogy—has become a pilgrimage site for truly devoted fans .… Eventually, it will roll right over Mos Espa—probably crushing the movie set—and keep on moving.
Smaller barchan dunes often bump into larger ones from behind because they move faster and are carried by winds blowing in one direction …. [W]hen two dunes are close enough in size, they can create the illusion that one slithers right through the other. The slightly smaller one, approaching from behind, swallows so much sand as it begins to fuse with the larger, more sluggish barchan that at some point it becomes bigger. The dune that was initially larger is now small enough to dart away.
the science of viniculture.
Oenology “the science of viniculture” derives from Ancient Greek oînos “wine,” plus the suffix -logy, which derives from Ancient Greek lógos “word, saying” but is often used in English to denote a field of study. Oînos (earlier woinos) is a cognate of Latin vīnum “wine,” and as we learned about in the etymology for the recent Word of the Day violescent, oînos and vīnum belong to a small family of cognate pairs (along with íon/viola “violet” and elaíā/olīva “olive”) that demonstrate how Ancient Greek dropped its w sound (represented by the letter digamma) while Latin retained its v (pronounced as w). In the field of linguistics, one never knows how the presence of a sound in one language can hint at the loss of an entire letter in another language. Oenology was first recorded in English circa 1810.
The vineyards of Issoudun produce a wine which is drunk throughout the two departments, and which, if manufactured as Burgundy and Gascony manufacture theirs, would be one of the best wines in France. Alas, “to do as our fathers did,” with no innovations, is the law of the land. Accordingly, the vine-growers continue to leave the refuse of the grape in the juice during its fermentation, which makes the wine detestable, when it might be a source of ever-springing wealth, and an industry for the community. Thanks to the bitterness which the refuse infuses into the wine, and which, they say, lessens with age, a vintage will keep a century. This reason, given by the vine-grower in excuse for his obstinacy, is of sufficient importance to oenology to be made public here…
Wine science, or oenology, has three pillars–grape culture, wine production, and sensory analysis evaluation. It is also concerned with chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, and large scale [sic] production of wine or engineering. Oenology is defined as the science of wine making, comprising the horticultural, biological, and food sciences, technological and engineering aspects of the process, as well as economics and marketing angles. Thus, it is a combination of several aspects of knowledge and is an interdisciplinary subject.
one of two marks « or » used in French, Italian, and Russian printing to enclose quotations.
Guillemet “a mark used in French to enclose quotations” is a diminutive of the name Guillaume, the French cognate of William. As we learned in the etymology for the recent Word of the Day will-o’-the-wisp, William comes from a Germanic name roughly meaning “desired helmet.” Although guillemets first appeared in 1527, they may have been named after the French printer Guillaume Le Bé, who would have been a toddler in the late 1520s when guillemets emerged in print. When an item is named after its inventor, it is often called a namesake or an eponym, but in the case of the guillemet, which takes its name from someone incorrectly assumed to be its inventor, it is a misnomer “a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation.” Guillemet was first recorded in English in the early 20th century.
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