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Word of the Day for Monday, 16 July 2018

solecism

[sol-uh-siz-uhm, soh-luh-]

noun

1.a nonstandard or ungrammatical usage, as unflammable and they was.

2.breach of good manners or etiquette.

QUOTES

... Lee finds in the solecism of “less” for “fewer”—catnip for pedants, and familiar to anyone who has stood in a grocery-store express lane—the inspiration for a beautiful poem about growing old ...

-- Dan Chiasson, "'The Undressing': Poetry of Passion Laid Bare," The New Yorker, March 19, 2018

ORIGIN

The noun solecism ultimately derives from Greek soloikismós “incorrect use of (Attic) Greek; incorrect use of language” (whether of individual words or in syntax), later “incorrect reasoning in logic,” and finally, “awkwardness.” Soloikismós is a derivative of the adjective sóloikos “speaking incorrectly, speaking broken Greek,” then “having bad manners, in bad taste, awkward.” Sóloikos traditionally derives from Sóloi, a colony on the southern shore of modern Turkey, not far from Tarsus where St. Paul was born. Sóloi, however, was not founded by the Athenians (who spoke Attic Greek) but by the Argives and Rhodians, who spoke Doric dialects. Perhaps whichever Athenian colonists were there originally wound up speaking a mixed dialect, or perhaps the Sóloikoi have been getting an undeserved bum rap for the past few millennia. Solecism entered English in the 16th century.

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Last updated: 16/07/2018

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