Hold everything. Today is worthy of intense celebration.
In the middle of a pretty chill day at work, I encountered this article by Dictionary.com.
It was like the world paused. How could such a monumental holiday occur without my knowledge?? How could I have gone six hours into my day without noting it, rejoicing in it, and sharing it with the WORLD?
What ensued (in addition to a significant lunch break) was a series of new word discoveries that gave me chills. They include:
- Ampersand, whose etymology is epic:
The shape of the character (&) predates the word ampersand by more than 1,500 years. In the first century, Roman scribes wrote in cursive, so when they wrote the Latin word et which means “and” they linked the e and t… The word “ampersand” came many years later when “&” was actually part of the English alphabet. In the early 1800s, school children reciting their ABCs concluded the alphabet with the &. It would have been confusing to say “X, Y, Z, and.” Rather, the students said, “and per se and.” “Per se” means “by itself,” so the students were essentially saying, “X, Y, Z, and by itself and.” Over time, “and per se and” was slurred together into the word we use today: ampersand.
- Malapropism: an act or habit of misusing words ridiculously, especially by the confusion fo words that are similar in sound.
- Mondegreen: a word or phrase resulting from a misinterpretation of a word or phrase that has been heart.
So cool, huh?
As my mind was dwelling on punctuation today, I thought about one of my fatal flaws: an epic hatred and judgmentality over one’s use of the ellipses.
See, it’s a problem – but I also think one’s epic misuse of a place-filling punctuation can be a dangerous tool in the workplace. Consider an email like this:
Hey Emily, I never got the report you were supposed to send me yesterday…
…and what? What?? What aren’t you saying?
It was a severe problem – like one in which I would turn into kind of a Hulk-esque co-worker whenever a dot-dot-dot like that ensued.
I’m proud to say that I’m a recovering ellipsist. And with that, it’s time to dwell on the beauties of the apostrophe and donate some funds to semi-colon cancer research. Over and out.