Word of the Day

Thursday, July 18, 2019

cosplay

[ kos-pley ]

noun

the art or practice of wearing costumes to portray characters from fiction, especially from manga, animation, and science fiction.

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What is the origin of cosplay?

Cosplay is a blend of costume and play, but the combination is masking a much more complex performance. Japanese borrowed the English compound noun costume play (as in theater) and rendered it into its sound system as kosuchūmu-purē, which was shortened by the 1980s to kosupure and narrowed to the more specific sense “the art or practice of wearing costumes to portray characters from fiction, especially from manga, animation, and science fiction” (as well as characters from video games). English borrowed back kosupure and refashioned it as cosplay by the 1990s. Japanese words like kosupure are considered pseudo-English Japanese coinages known as wasei-eigo. Other familiar examples adopted into English from Japanese include salaryman, anime, and Pokémon, the latter itself a popular subject of cosplay.

how is cosplay used?

Although cosplay isn’t a requirement at Comic-Con, many people participate, and they take it extremely seriously.

Michael Hardy, "The Best Costumes at Comic-Con 2018," Wired, July 23, 2018

The goal, many cosplayers interviewed said, is to disrupt popular ideas of what cosplay can and should look like and to help create a more racially tolerant environment through cosplay, both in Black Panther costumes and outside of them.

Walter Thompson-Hernández, "'Black Panther' Cosplayers: 'We're Helping People See Us as Heroes," New York Times, February 15, 2018
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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

ideogram

[ id-ee-uh-gram, ahy-dee- ]

noun

a written symbol that represents an idea or object directly rather than a particular word or speech sound, as a Chinese character.

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What is the origin of ideogram?

An ideogram or ideograph is “a written symbol that represents an idea or object directly rather than a word or speech sound, as a Chinese character.” Ideogram and ideograph literally mean “a written idea,” from Greek idéa “idea” and the noun grámma or the Greek combining form –graphos, both meaning “something written,” which are derivatives of the verb gráphein “to write.” Because ideograms convey meaning, not words or sounds, 5 can be pronounced five, fünf, pięć, pĕt, pénte, pémpe, or in several thousand other ways. Ideogram and ideograph both entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is ideogram used?

Ideograms are symbols that represent ideas or concepts rather than objects themselves—a circle with a line through it (🚫) to indicate prohibition, for example. Many emoji are hybrids of ideograms and pictograms.

Ian Bogost, "Emoji Don't Mean What They Used To," The Atlantic, February 11, 2019

Chinese characters are based on the simplified outlines of concrete elements in the visible world. Reduced to abstract lines and combined together, these yield the thousands of characters called ideograms, i.e.: idea transcribers.

Souren Melikian, "Separating East from West with a calligrapher's touch," New York Times, June 20, 2008
Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Barmecidal

[ bahr-muh-sahyd-l ]

adjective

giving only the illusion of plenty; illusory: a Barmecidal banquet.

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What is the origin of Barmecidal?

It is forgivable, even rational—but nevertheless incorrect—to think that Barmecidal means something like “killing Barm or a Barm or a barm or barms,” just as the adjective homicidal is formed from the noun homicide. Analyzing Barmecidal from back to front, we see the familiar adjectival suffix –al. The element –id or –ide is the not so familiar Greek noun suffix –id, a feminine patronymic suffix having the general sense “offspring of, descendant of,” and used especially with the names of dynasties (such as Pisistratid, Abbasid, Attalid). The first two syllables, Barmec-, come from Persian Barmak, the name of a wealthy Iranian family that was very influential in Baghdad under the Abassid dynasty, and famous for its patronage of the arts and sciences. A Barmecidal banquet (or feast) refers to a story from the The Arabian Nights Entertainments; its “hero” is Ja’far ibn Yahya Barmaki (Ja’far al-Barmaki, also Giafar), who served a beggar a series of empty platters, pretending the empty platters were a sumptuous feast, a fiction or nasty joke that the beggar cheerfully accepted.

how is Barmecidal used?

The men employed by Mr. Hackley, the Street Contractor, assembled yesterday, the regular pay-day, at the office, in the Park, to receive their semi-monthly wages, but they were met by the assurance that there was no money, and that it was only a Barmecidal pay-day.

"The Street Contractor's Pay-Day, but no Money," New York Times, January 22, 1862

Why … did I leave the Great Gatsby bemoaning not the Barmecidal mousetrap of the American dream, but rather the director’s Liza-Minnelli-performing-“All-the-Single-Ladies”-in-Sex-and-the-City-2 style of adapting epic tragedies?

Moze Halperin, "How '#Rich Kids of Beverly Hills' Makes 'The Wolf of Wall Street,' 'Gatsby,' and 'The Bling Ring' Obsolete," Flavorwire, January 29, 2014

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