Thursday, December 14, 2006

Have you got change for a C..

Today I remarked to my husband that I have heard the phrase “sea change” used often lately. I thought I knew what it meant but wondered about the origin of the words. He looked at me quizzically saying he had never been aware of it. I had to refer to my favorite source to settle arguments and pursue information. I googled it. There were over one million hits with sea change. The first one lead to a page that gave a definition (transformation) and origin as written by Shakespeare in “The Tempest”. I clicked on some of the other listings and found out it is the name of a book by Robert B. Parker and a recording by Beck. It is also the name of a digital video server system. This satisfied my curiosity and I did not try all of the million sites.
The first site with the definition was from a page called World Wide Words. It lists weird, seldom used words alphabetically. Click on a word and you get the definition and use. I found a new favorite—snollygoster. The short definition is: “A shrewd unprincipled person, especially a politician.” The longer definition sent me to the dictionary to check a couple more words. It says “…someone who wants office, regardless of party, platform or principles, and who, whenever he wins gets there by the sheer force of monumental talknophical assumnacy.” I will need a fatter dictionary to find talknophical. It will not make me a better writer to study this site but I bet I could
do better on the Jeopardy pretest or the National Spelling Bee.
Prediction for the next two years. We will have to watch out for the Snollygosters until fall of ’08 unless they undergo a sea change.

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