Friday, July 17, 2009

Death and dismemberment

I've known the word expiration for nearly 50 years, but I just found expiry. Where had it been all of my life? An expiry is simply an expiration, especially of a contract or an agreement; it's death.

Did I say that I love words? Even deadly ones.

I just found megadeaths. Just as megatons defines the power of an atomic bomb, megadeaths defines the potential loss of human life from those bombs.

Let's take martyrdom — a death that is imposed because of the person's adherence to a religious faith or cause. Joan of Arc was a martyr.

I've long thought of termination in terms of death (the Terminator movies) or losing a job. I just found that, in linguistics, it's the end of a word, as a suffix, inflectional ending, or final morpheme. I know, you're wondering what a morpheme is; according to an online dictionary, it's the smallest linguistic unit that has semantic meaning. Well, that's clear.

Actually, here's an example of morphemes: The word "unbreakable" has three morphemes: "un-", a bound morpheme; "break", a free morpheme; and "-able", a bound morpheme. "un-" is also a prefix, "-able" is a suffix. Both "un-" and "-able" are affixes.

Learn something new everyday.

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