Friday, November 6, 2009

Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: In Passing, Part III

In her latest article on the uses of death, dead, and dying in everyday language, Jean Hibben suggests many of the phrases and terms we use relating to death "never were alive in the first place." The article, "Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: In Passing, Part III," the author explores the origin of terms such as a "deadpan, "deadbolt," "deadline" and, as unlikely as it may seem, the word "mortgage." The study of language and root words, in particular, can be entertaining as well as enlightening. 

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: In Passing, Part II

We know what a euphemism is, and the current political climate is full to the brim, finding more and more creative ways to befuddle the common citizen, to make the dubious more "acceptable." And that is the function of a euphemism. To veil or soften the harsher reality. In her latest article, "Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: In Passing, Part II," Jean Hibben schools us on yet another term intended to manipulate perception, the "dysphemism," the substitution of one word for another, making it more unpleasant or unacceptable. So we can make things sound better than they really are, but we can also make them sound worse. As my son likes to say, "Presentation is everything."

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Memento mori: Funeral Photography

Many of us have in our possession or have seen old photos of an ancestor lying in a coffin, and many have thought this photographing the dead a very macabre practice. But it does have a long and respectable tradition. In her article, "Memento mori: Funeral Photography," Judy Rosella Edwards examines the history and uses of funeral photography.

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