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There’s (now) a word for that…

 

From Oxford Dictionaries, the OED Birthday Word Generator

Do you know which words entered the English language around the same time you entered the world? Use our OED birthday word generator to find out! We’ve scoured the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to find words with a first known usage for each year from 1900 to 2004. Simply select the relevant decade and click on your birth year to discover a word which entered the English language that year.

Please note that the dates given for these words refer to the current first known usage of the word. The OED team is continuously researching the histories of words (something you may be able to help with), and it’s therefore possible that we will find an earlier sense of the words during our research…

A full exploration of the words of one’s nativity year requires a subscription; but the graphic on the intro page (pictured above; accessible here) is live, and will generate the word-of-the-year for any year selected.  Your correspondent’s birthday word (or phrase, as it happens):  “big bang.”

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As we marvel at how times flies, we might send dramatic birthday greetings to Jean-Baptiste Racine; he was born on this date in 1639.  One of the three great dramatists in France in the 17th century (with Molière and Corneille), Racine was primarily a tragedian, producing plays like Phèdre, Andromaque, and Athalie, considered neoclassical masterpieces.  Racine was a dramatic poet, writing in dodecasyllabic alexandrine; the linguisitic effects that he achieved have been considered essentially impossible to capture in translation– though many have tried:  Robert Lowell and Ted Hughes into English, and Friedrich Schiller into German.  (The quest continues: poet Geoffrey Argent won the American Book Award for his 2011 attempt to translate Racine’s plays into English.)

A strict observer of the dramatic unities, Racine frustrated Antonin Artaud, who wrote (in The Theater and Cruelty), “the misdeeds of the psychological theater descended from Racine have made us unaccustomed to that immediate and violent action which the theater should possess.”  Conversely, Proust developed an earlier love of Racine “whom he considered a brother and someone very much like himself…” (Marcel Proust: A Life, by Jean-Yves Tadié, 1996).

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Written by LW

December 22, 2013 at 1:01 am

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