Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tarek's Dictionary - Volume I

I still have no idea how this post is going to be useful to anyone other than its own writer, but anyway.

It all started a month ago, when I was thinking that whenever I read a book, an articles online or a friend's blog post, I usually stumble upon English words that I do not know their meanings. I used to just ignore them, thinking that I'd learn their meaning from the context, which rarely happens by the way. So, I decided last month to start taking notes with words I don't know, write down their meaning, and publish them later on in what I call, Tarek's Dictionary. And here are the words collected so far:

  • Persona non grata (Latin): Literally meaning "an unwelcome person". You might be wondering why do they write such Latin sentence in news websites instead of its English alternative. Well, I have no idea. May be to look intellectual or something.
  • Patronizing: Treat someone with an *apparent* kindness that transmits a feeling of superiority. Talking to people as if they are ignorant or stupid. If you speak Arabic, then this looks so much like "Yalla ya shater" or the ironic "Bravo" we say all the time. Sometimes, it also means becoming a regular customer, "Lots of people patronize Starbucks for their daily caffeine fix".
  • Nurture: To support and encourage, as during the period of training or development, or to feed and protect.
  • Cynical: Skeptical to someone's good intentions. It originates from an ancient school of Greek philosophers known as the Cynics, whose philosophy was that the purpose of life was to live a life of Virtue in agreement with Nature. This meant rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, sex, and fame, and by living a simple life free from all possessions. I have no idea how this ended up to become pessimistic or distrusting the motives of others. Seems that the emphasis on the negative aspects of Cynic philosophy by the 19th century is what altered its meaning this way. In brief, I used to thing Cynicism and Sarcasm are the same thing, but they are not, yet they meet sometimes. The keywords here are doubt, pessimism and distrust to people's intention and/or future.
  • Delirious: While delirium is neuropsychiatric syndrome whose symptoms are sudden severe confusion and rapid changes in brain function. Delirious - most of the time - is used to express one being wildly excited, esp with joy or enthusiasm. It still is a negative term, which mostly refers to ill or uncontrolled excitement or emotion.
  • Anxiety: Being anxious! Yeah, I knew anxious but didn't know that one!
  • Apprehensive: Anxious or fearful that something bad or unpleasant will happen
  • Agony: Extreme physical or mental suffering or the struggle that precedes death
  • Wrath: Anger, rage or divine punishment or retribution for sin. Wrath is one of Morgan Freeman's, ehmm Christian ethics', Seven Deadly Sins, and it may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger.
  • Misogynistic: Hating women in particular. It comes from the Ancient Greek μισογυνία (misogunia) and μισογύνης (misogunēs, “woman hater”), from μισέω (miseō, “I hate”) + γυνή (gynē, “woman”). It's funny to that J.W. Roberts argues that older than tragedy and comedy was a misogynistic tradition in Greek literature.
  • Corny: Trying to be cool, but ultimately very uncool indeed, and often even extremely embarrassing
  • Disgruntled: Dissatisfied or Angry.
  • Dire straits: Other than the "Money for Nothing" band, it also means a state of extreme distress, anxiety, or suffering. Dire on its own means alarming or desperately urgent. It has it roots back to the Latin word "dīrus" which means fearful.
  • To keep mum means to keep silent or refuse to talk.
  • Peril: It has nothing to do with Pril, the dishwashing detergent. Peril stands for something that endangers or involves risk.
  • Stern: Serious and unrelenting, esp. in the assertion of authority and exercise of discipline. "The Manager sent me a stern email". It also means the rearmost part of a ship or boat.
  • Prevail is to be greater in strength or influence; and be victorious: "Prevailed against the enemy". Also can refer to becoming predominant: "A region where snow and ice prevail".
  • Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. And since this is my favorite term in this issue. Its roots come from the Greek word ῥήτωρ (rhḗtōr), "public speaker". I will elaborate more on Rhetoric later on.
  • A Hobson's choice is a free choice in which only one option is offered. As a person may refuse to take that option, the choice is therefore between taking the option or not; "take it or leave it".
  • Nuance: A subtle difference or distinction in expression, meaning, response, etc. A very slight difference or variation in color or tone.
  • Pedantic: Punctilious, overly concerned with minute details or formalisms especially in education.
  • Docile: It comes from Latin root for teaching, docere, so someone docile is easy to teach. A docile student is willing to be taught. A docile animal is easy to handle. If you behave well and do what people tell you to do, you're a docile person. Docile might be a word of praise, but it can also be a criticism of someone for being overly submissive. 
  • Monocle: A monocle is a type of corrective lens used to correct or enhance the vision in only one eye. You can have a look at the logo of Egyptian Monocle to know what I mean.
  • Phosphenes is the lights you see when you close your eyes and press your hands to them.
  • A facade or façade is generally one exterior side of a building, usually, but not always, the front.
  • Consensus: Majority of opinion. General agreement or concord.
  • Impartiality: The principle of justice holding that decisions should be based on objective criteria, rather than on the basis of bias, prejudice, or preferring the benefit to one person over another for improper reasons.

Now back to Rhetoric

Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western tradition.[2] Its best known definition comes from Aristotle, who considers it a counterpart of both logic and politics, and calls it "the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion." Rhetorics typically provide heuristics for understanding, discovering, and developing arguments for particular situations, such as Aristotle's three persuasive audience appeals, logos, pathos, and ethos.
  • Ethos: The character or disposition of a community, group, person, etc. The moral element in dramatic literature that determines a character's action rather than his or her thought or emotion, as opposed to Pathos and Logos.
  • Pathos: The quality or power in an actual life experience or in literature, music, speech, or other forms of expression, of evoking a feeling of pity or compassion. The deeply felt domestic pathos raises the movie above the average thriller. Such detailed description of their relationship underscores the pathos of its end.
  • Logos: Philosophy reason or the rational principle expressed in words and things, argument, or justification
A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question that is asked in order to make a point and without the expectation of a reply.

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