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Feb 13, 2003
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This week's words
canossa
tartarean
dunkirk
solecism
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

solecism

(SOL-i-siz-ehm, SO-li-) Pronunciation

noun:
1. A grammatical mistake or a nonstandard usage.
2. A breach of etiquette.
3. An error, inconsistency, or impropriety.

From Latin soloecismus, from Greek soloikismos, from soloikos (speaking incorrectly; literally, inhabitant of Soloi) after Soloi, an ancient Athenian colony in Cilicia where a dialect considered as substandard was spoken.

"`Ah! Madam,' said Ovid, `how great a solecism would it be both in a lover and a poet if he did not look upon his mistress as the sublimest object of his thoughts!'
Benjamin Boyce and Thomas Brown; The Adventures of Lindamira: A Lady of Quality; The University of Minnesota Press; 1949.

"But the AAUP's (Association of American University Presses) guidelines go beyond correcting what it regards as solecisms to more drastic exercises in raising consciousness. Consider the traditional personification of ships as feminine. According to the AAUP task force, such usage is `quaint at best' and should be avoided: `it' is preferred. Along the same literalist lines, you should think twice before describing an important work by a woman scholar as `seminal'.
Speech Therapy; The Economist (London); Jun 3, 1995.

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