Saturday, February 4, 2012

Know your English !! Part.X

Diacritical marks: Marks used in writing and printing to adjust the way in which a letter is pronounced,

Cedilla: (,) shaped rather like a comma, placed beneath a letter on some languages to adjust the way it is pronounced. For example, a cedilla placed beneath the letter ‘c’ in French words indicates that it should be pronounced as ‘s’ as in Fran├žois
               
Throwing down the gauntlet:  Issuing a challenge. The original challenge involved was a duel. The gauntlet was a protective glove worn as part of a soldier’s armour in the Middle Ages. Throwing one’s gauntlet at the feet of a rival knight was a standard way of challenging him to one to one combat.

Short shrift: Brief and unsympathetic treatment, or abrupt dismissal.  The word shrift is an old term for confession in church, and short shrift originally referred to the brief time in a condemned prisoner could make his confession before being executed.

Portmanteau word (also blend): Words formed by fusing the sounds and meaning of two different words, such as chunnel  (from channel and tunnel) and chortle (from chuckle and smort). The second example was coined by Lewis Carroll, who was also responsible for the term ‘portmanteau word’. In Through the looking glass, Humpty Dumpty describes such blends as ‘like a portmanteau – there are two meanings packed up into one word’- just as a portmanteau bag consists of two thinner cases hinged together at the back.

Ivory towers:  Institution or way of life secluded from reality and often devoted to abstract intellectual concerns rather than practical every day matters.

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