All right guys, you know the drill. I found nine words this week to choose from, the most I’ve noticed so far. Maybe the writers are doing it on purpose?
Be sure to check out the issue (and subsequently this blog) before the Fourth of July food coma and drunken stupor sets in. That doesn't give you much time so you'd better get started ...
Autodidactic: like a self-taught person, adj.
I could have figured this out without wordreference.com if I would have just thought about it a little bit — auto, meaning self and dictact, meaning teaching. It makes sense; it’s just that people use this word even less than they learn things for themselves.
In the paper: “I just wanted to write because, autodidactic as I am, I had the sense to know that writers write,” in Kathy Y. Wilson’s “No. 104.” Can I make a joke about Kathy’s autodidactic deduction? Yes, writers write, but as opposed to what, exactly?
Cogent: appealing to the mind or reason, adj.
I can’t think of a cogent reason why I like this word, but I do. FYI, it’s pronounced COjent.
In the paper: Looks like Kathy Y. Wilson pulled a double-vocab-hitter this week, “He [Danny Cross] said cogent things to me about my voice, my skill set and my value to this city” in “No. 104,” describing how our editor got her to start writing this column two years ago. I can’t really imagine Danny saying anything cogent (jokes, jokes) but whatever he said must have worked if she’s been back for 104 weeks of columns (much more impressive than my short tenure as copy editor/blogger).
Epocha: the beginning of a distinctive period in the history of anything, n.
Please turn to Epoch in your dictionary, because even the 1913 Webster’s Dictionary said so. Epocha is the Latin version of epoch because John Adams just had to be that formal.
In the paper: Although it appeared in Isaac Thorn’s “The Fourth of July and Me” sidebar, the credit for this one goes to John Adams. Apparently he screwed up pretty big time when he thought what we celebrate as the Fourth of July was supposed to the Second of July. “The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha in the History of American,” Adams said.
Je ne sais quoi: French phrase, meaning a quality that cannot be described or expressed, n.
Expressions borrowed from other languages that we are supposed to understand when used in an English sentence are hard. I know what déjà vu and pièce de résistance mean, but come on, isn't this the Fourth of July issue?
In the paper: Shout out to “Beygency Officer” Jac Kern aka Arts and Culture Editor for mixing in some French with her English this week. Also for changing the masthead to say “Beygency Officer,” I’m guessing because she had the privilege of attending
Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On the Run show this past weekend. I personally have never seen the ‘90s lifetime movie The Face on the Milk Carton so I can’t give you a hint as to what Jac meant when she wrote "[The new MTV series Finding Carter] could be watchable, but will surely lack that '90's lifetime movie je ne sais quoi," in her TV roundup. I did, however, try and read the eponymous book when I was in fifth grade, but I was 11 years old and I distinctly remember being uncomfortable with the teenage sexual tension between the main character and her neighbor.
I give Jac *Pick of the Week* this week because the Beygency Officer thing was so funny and I haven’t thought about The Face on the Milk Carton since 2005 and she taught us all some French.
Pilsner: a tall slender footed glass for beer, n.
When I read this in the paper, I thought "Wow I wonder what a pilsner is," and I was extremely disappointed when Google Images just showed what I would describe as a “beer glass but not a stein.” Maybe you all knew what a pilsner was (it is also a type of beer) and I’m just showing my age (20) or lack of class.
In the paper: “These boys know how to have fun and get a laugh, whether it’s drinking wine out of a pilsner glass…” in Nick Grever’s “Kings of Power” about the comically named Martin Luther and the Kings band. Now that I now what a pilsner glass is, I can appreciate the quantities of wine they drink during rehearsal.
Bonus round: This is more grammar than vocab, but which is correct, upward or upwards? It’s always upward, regardless of what you may say in conversation. Upward as in “The car cost upward of $30,000,” according to my handy dandy 2012 Associated Press Stylebook.