Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kid History. Also, my new favorite word.

 I cannot express how much I love these videos.

"Girls are mermaids. Some boys are mermaids too."

"I'll go get my bag!"

And now for my new favorite word:
Shibboleth /shɪ bo lɛth/ noun: any distinguishing practice that is indicative of one's social or regional origin. It is most often used by language snobs to describe a word or grammatical structure that separates the uneducated from the educated. (Ain't is the classic example.)

The thing that I love the most about this word is how it originated! The modern use of this word comes from a story in chapter 12 in Judges. As usual, the Gileadites and the Ephraimites were at war with each other and, at one point, the Gileadites had blocked off the passage that led to Jordan. The Ephraimites frequently attempted to sneak through their blockade, so the Gileadites devised an ingenious plan. 

5. And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay;
6. Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.

Basically, since the Ephraimites didn't have the 'sh' sound in their language, they were unable to pronounce Shibboleth the same way the Gileadites could, marking them as having a different social and regional origin. It would be like a French person asking me to make the nasalized 'r' sound, or an American asking a Japanese speaker to differentiate between the words rice and lice. Isn't language cool? Every day I sit in my Usage class and my Syntax class and I think to myself, "There is nowhere else I'd rather be." Honestly, once you find something you're passionate about, it is so easy to love learning!

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