(Two language things and then a random thing.)
I think I'm pretty thoughtful (ha), especially when it comes to areas I'm already interested in. One of those areas is language, so I'm sometimes surprised at myself and what I just didn't know.
I'm reading Verbatim: Fron the Bawdy to the Sublime, the Best Writing on Language for Word Lovers, Grammar Mavens, and Armchair Linguists (wow, what a subtitle) and one early section deals with place names.
One area of language studied is something like "what do you call the richer/poorer part of town?" and a response typically describing the richer part given by San Francisco respondents was Nob Hill.
Now I've heard this term before and I'm pretty sure there's a grocery chain named this, but I didn't know that this term comes from "nobility hill." And I guess it's kind of obvious, but I really never thought about it before.
(I'm pretty sure that the survey asking about the names for the richer/poorer parts of town was part of the compilation of the Dictionary of American Regional English...but I don't have the book at my elbow right now.)
On my way to the library today (yes, another library day), I heard the StarDate blurb on the constellation Scorpio and one of its stars: Antares.
Here's an excerpt about Antares, one of Scorpio's stars:
The scorpion’s brightest star is Antares — one of the most impressive stars in our region of the galaxy. It’s a red supergiant — it’s hundreds of times wider than the Sun, and tens of thousands of times brighter. But its surface is cooler than the Sun’s, so it looks bright orange.
And right now, Mars and Saturn flank [the constellation's] borders. Saturn stands above Antares at nightfall. And even-brighter Mars is to the upper right of Antares, shining with the same orange color. In fact, that’s how Antares got its name. The name means “rival of Mars” — a name bestowed because its color is almost identical to the Red Planet’s.
Ah...I had never thought about the name of this star, even though I'd heard it before. I had never thought of it as something like against or opposed to Ares.
But how cool. :)
I was just reading through my Atlantic daily newsletter* and there is a section at the bottom called "verbs" where they list little blurbs/links about stories. One from today is "Swift narrative shifted" (see the verbing there?). I thought, "Oh! A story about Jonathan Swift." Haha, not so much.
At the bottom of the newsletter, there's a section called Most Popular on The Atlantic, and one of the links is "The War Over 'That Bitch,'" which I thought was going to be a piece on the use of that language. Turns out, it's the same article as the Swift one above...Taylor Swift, not Jonathan Swift.
(And I'm stilll going to skip the article. I'm not that interested in whatever's going on between Taylor Swift and Kanye West...although I'm not completely ignorant about who these people are and what is going on between them. I'm not quite that out of touch.)
* After having stepped away from Facebook six months ago, I feel like the sources of my article reading have really narrowed. I get news/article digests from the New York Times and from The Atlantic. And I will still not ever get to all of the articles I save from just these newsletters. I do appreciate, though, that one of the regular features on one of my NY Times newsletters is a "What We're Reading Elsewhere" section. Oh, and in the "What We're Reading" weekly newsletter, all of the articles are from outside of the Times.