Friday, November 14, 2008

Circumspect

Picture is Doug walking the dogs in Teklanika, Alaska.

Before I left to enjoy Hawaii with Klint and Calli I signed up for Merriam-Webster's Online Word A Day and I have been enjoying reading definitions. If only I could remember to use the words ---in the right place ---at the right time! I could sound so smart, ha.

To refresh our memories: Merriam is the last name of brothers George and Charles, booksellers and printers. When Noah Webster died (1843), these guys bought the rights to publish revisions of the 1841 edition of Noah Webster's An American Dictionary of the English Language, Corrected and Enlarged. Thus we gained Merriam-Webster.

At the beginning of the 19th century, when he was 43 years old, Webster decided to write a dictionary because people in different parts of the country pronounced and used words differently. He wanted to create a common source of accuracy. But, in reflection of national revolutionary sentiments, he did not believe the American people should speak and spell in the same ways as people in England. He was quite willing to adapt his version of the dictionary to accommodate American users, and to distinguish them from their fellow English speakers in England. He added words that were distinctly American, such as, skunk and hickory, and he changed the spellings of many words and turned such words as neighbour into neighbor, centre into center, and plough into plow. A Noah Webster biography.
So, now I know why UK friends spell some of their words different. To Noah Webster it was a "proud to be an American" thing. It was a strong and common feeling in Noah's day ("national revolutionary sentiments") to be different from England in language, for they (USA's forefathers) had won our freedom from England's interference into our daily lives.

Sharing the Word-A-Day:

Did you know?

"Circumspect," "cautious," "wary," and "chary" all imply looking before you leap, but each puts a unique spin on being careful in the face of risk or danger. "Circumspect," which descends from Latin “circum-” (“around”) and “specere” (“to look”), implies the surveying of all possible consequences before acting or deciding (as in "he is circumspect in business dealings"). "Cautious" suggests fear of danger and the exercise of forethought that it prompts (as in "a cautious driver"). "Wary" emphasizes suspiciousness and alertness in sensing danger and cunning in escaping it (as in "keep a wary eye on the competition"). "Chary" implies a cautious reluctance to give, act, or speak freely (as in "she is chary of signing papers without reading them first").

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15,16.

And in all that I have said to you, be circumspect and make no mention of the name of other gods, nor let it be heard from your mouth. Exodus 23:13.

7 comments:

e-Mom said...

Very cool post. I love learning new things about my adopted country... like the fact that "national revolutionary sentiments" created the need for an American dictionary. Since I was raised in Canada, I grew up with the Oxford English Dictionary. Last Christmas, my father (still living north of the 49th parallel) asked me for a Webster's ... who would have thunk? And he loves it!

mikemathew said...

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CONNIE'S THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART said...

Connie Marie, just excellent!!! I enjoyed this post much. connie from Texas

Farrah said...

Thank you for the fun, little history lesson!

Constance said...

Now that is cool, I might have to sign up for that myself. I try and be circumspect when I am writing something. I try and see if it can be misconstrued, it's origingal intent or twisted beyond what I am trying to say. Tee Hee, I am obviously not too successful with that!
Connie

Deborah said...

In Canada both spellings are used...color or colour...I used to always use ou, but I find myself switching more to just 'o.'

We have a scripture song of the verse you quoted...it has a very catchy tune and I find myself singing it alot!

SandiLynnHill said...

This was a fun educating post. I love the history lesson. I need to walk more circumspectly! I love it.