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Oct 13, 2020
This week’s theme
Words about words and language

This week’s words
endonym
basilect
metonymy
homeoteleuton
heterophemy

“Words are the small change of thought.” ~Jules Renard
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

basilect

PRONUNCIATION:
(BAY-zuh/suh-lekt, BAZ/BAS-uh-lekt)

MEANING:
noun: The least prestigious variety of a language.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin basis + dialectus (dialect). Earliest documented use: 1965.

NOTES:
There’s a saying: A language is a dialect with an army and a navy. It was popularized by the sociolinguist Max Weinreich. The idea is that what we call a “dialect” is not any less grammatical or in any way inferior to a “language”. The distinction has more to do with other factors, such as the social status accorded by the political and economic might of its speakers.
For example, the reason the flavor of English spoken around London or French spoken around Paris is considered “standard” is not because there’s something special about them. It’s because people in that area have more power. In reality, we all speak a dialect. The opposite of basilect is acrolect, the most prestigious variety of a language. In the middle is mesolect.

USAGE:
“The constant babble of thousands of beings speaking hundreds of languages, patois, pidgin, and favored dialects blended together to create a rich basilect brew.”
Michael Reaves; Star Wars: Coruscant Nights II: Street of Shadows; Ballantine Books; 2008.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
You can't do anything with anybody's body to make it dirty to me. Six people, eight people, one person -- you can do only one thing to make it dirty: kill it. Hiroshima was dirty. -Lenny Bruce, comedian and social critic (13 Oct 1925-1966)

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