Friday, 12 August 2016
As we know, F is for Friday, and also for, um, filology. Wait, no, that's philology. Whatever, let's look at some new-to-Mike words.
The first new-to-me word is drunkorexia, which refers to "behaviors such as skipping meals or exercising heavily to offset calories from a heavy night of drinking, or to pump up alcohol's buzz," according to the page on the NBC website where I saw this. I looked for other sources, and many of them also have this dual definition, where avoiding eating is done either to offset the calories in alcohol or to enhance the effects of drinking. Anyway, I find cites going back at least to 2010. Apparently I'm not in college anymore, or I probably would have known this term.
A second new-to-me term this week is Liebig's Law. This is actually quite old, and I knew of the concept, which is also sometimes referred to as the law of the minimum. But I didn't know there was a name for this. (Of course there is, duh.) Liebig's Law states that the expansion of a system is capped by the availability of the scarcest critical ingredient. For example, on a broad scale, life on earth cannot expand indefinitely; at some point when you chemically build living systems, you'll run out of a critical ingredient. (If I remember right, that's phosphorous, but don't quote me on that.)
The same principle applies in more trivial contexts as well. If you need to make cookies for your kid's potluck at school, the number of cookies you can make is limited by the ingredient you run out of first, whether that's flour, sugar, chocolate chips, or whatever. (Assuming the store's closed, of course.)
Ok, etymology. I got to wondering recently about the -ade in lemonade. This is a productive suffix we can use for "drink made from": limeade, orangeade, pineappleade, pom-ade (from pomegranate). But why can we do this—where did -ade come from?
We seem to have gotten lemonade as a unit from French, where the suffix has long been used to indicate "action or product of an action" to cite Douglas Harper. As such, lemonade shares this suffix with some pretty interesting words: grenade, crusade, and comrade, to name three. (This comes from Latin, which is why you'll find words with similar constructions in Spanish and Italian.)
Ah! But observe that after borrowing lemonade into English, we naturalized the -ade suffix and use it in our own and much narrower way. You can't create arbitrary words meaning "product of" in English by just whacking -ade onto the end of another word. But if you've got some fruit around, you can make yourself a refreshing beverage, both to drink and to say.
Homework: be ready to discuss whether -ade is a so-called cranberry morpheme.
Like this? Read all the Friday words.
Friday words, language