Today in History (June 14th):
1623: In the first breach-of-promise suit in the United States, the Rev. Greville Pooley sued Cicely Jordan in Charles City, Va., for jilting him for another man.
1775: The Continental Congress established the army as the first U.S. military service. George Washington was named Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army.
1777: The Stars and Stripes became the national U.S. flag.
1811: Birthdays: Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
1820: Birthdays: Bookseller John Bartlett, compiler of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.
1855: Birthdays: Former Wisconsin Gov. Robert La Follette.
1864: Birthdays: German physician Alois Alzheimer.
1895: Birthdays: Singer, composer Cliff Edwards (also the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Disney’s Pinocchio).
1904: Birthdays: Photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White.
1909: Birthdays: Actor/folksinger Burl Ives.
1916: Birthdays: Actor Dorothy McGuire.
1919: Capt. John Alcock and Lt. Arthur Brown flew a Vickers Vimy bomber 1,900 miles non-stop from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, to Clifden, Ireland, for the first non-stop trans-Atlantic flight. Birthdays: Actor Gene Barry.
1922: Warren G. Harding became the first U.S. president to broadcast a message over the radio. The occasion was the dedication of the Francis Scott Key Memorial in Baltimore.
1928: Birthdays: Cuban revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara.
1931: Birthdays: Actor Marla Gibbs; Musician Junior Walker.
1932: Birthdays: Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.
1933: The first Superman comic book — Action Comic No. 1 — was published.
1945: Birthdays: Rock musician Rod Argent.
1946: Birthdays: Real estate mogul Donald Trump.
1950: Birthdays: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
1951: Univac I, the world’s first commercial computer, designed for the U.S. Census Bureau, was introduced.
1952: Birthdays: Women’s basketball Coach Pat Summitt.
1954: The phrase under God was formally added to U.S. Pledge of Allegiance.
1958: Birthdays: Olympic gold medal speed skater Eric Heiden.
1961: Birthdays: Singer Boy George (George O’Dowd).
1966: Birthdays: Actor Traylor Howard.
1968: Birthdays: Actor Yasmine Bleeth; TV journalist Campbell Brown.
1969: Birthdays: Tennis star Steffi Graf.
1982: Birthdays: Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang.
1985: Shiite Muslim gunmen commandeered TWA Flight 847 carrying 153 passengers and crew from Athens to Rome. The ordeal ended 17 days later in Beirut, where one of the hostages, a U.S. sailor, was killed.
1990: Flash floods around Shadyside, Ohio, killed at least 26 people and damaged or destroyed more than 800 homes in four eastern Ohio counties.
1992: Birthdays: Actor Daryl and Evan Sabara.
1993: U.S. President Bill Clinton nominated federal Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. She succeeded Justice Byron White.
1998: The Chicago Bulls won their sixth NBA title in eight years and third in a row, defeating the Utah Jazz in the championship series.
1999: The South African National Assembly elected Thabo Mbeki as president, succeeding Nelson Mandela. Mbeki had served as deputy president under Mandela.
2002: U.S. Roman Catholic Church leaders adopted new rules for all dioceses calling for removal from active service of any priest found to have abused a minor and for the reporting of accusations to civil authorities.
2003: The Czech Republic voted overwhelmingly to join the European Union.
2008: Heavy rains flooded Iowa and other Midwestern states, claiming at least 24 lives and damaging millions of acres of corn and soybeans.
2011: U.S. President Barack Obama extended sanctions against the Belarus government, saying it had taken steps backward in democracy and human rights.
2012: Ousted Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, in exile and tried in absentia, was sentenced to life imprisonment for ordering the shooting of protesters.
“If anything is sacred the human body is sacred.” – Walt Whitman
“She is a peacock in everything but beauty.” – Oscar Wilde
“Life is a long lesson in humility.” – James M. Barrie, novelist, short-story writer, and playwright (1860-1937)
“On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher (1844-1900)
“There is as much difference between us and ourselves as between us and others.” – Michel de Montaigne, essayist (1533-1592)
“Society is composed of two great classes: those who have more dinners than appetite, and those who have more appetite than dinners.” – Sebastien-Roch-Nicolas de Chamfort, writer (1741-1794)
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) US writer:
“A little reflection will enable any person to detect in himself that setness in trifles which is the result of the unwatched instinct of self-will and to establish over himself a jealous guardianship.”
“Everyone confesses that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us; but most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstances drive them to do.”
“Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserved; it is life’s undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room, from which we go forth to more careful and guarded intercourse, leaving behind us much debris of cast-off and everyday clothing.”
“I am speaking now of the highest duty we owe our friends, the noblest, the most sacred – that of keeping their own nobleness, goodness, pure and incorrupt.”
“I would not attack the faith of a heathen without being sure I had a better one to put in its place.”
“In all ranks of life the human heart yearns for the beautiful; and the beautiful things that God makes are his gift to all alike.”
MEANING: (verb tr.), To pierce or tear.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin lancinare (to tear), from lacer (torn). Earliest documented use: 1603.
USAGE: “The Honorable Rep. Spear is fixing to lancinate our state by declaring the American bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana, the official North Carolina amphibian. To me, a stab like this makes about as much sense as declaring Bunny Bread the official loaf of Paris or ‘darn’ the official swear word of New York City.” – Phil Woodhall; An Amphibian Worth Complimenting; The News & Observer(Raleigh, North Carolina); May 5, 2007.
Explore “lancinate” in the Visual Thesaurus.
PRONUNCIATION: (puhr-DOOR, -DYOOR)
MEANING: (verb intr.), To continue to exist; endure.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin per- (through) + durare (to last), from durus (hard). Earliest documented use: 1475.
USAGE: “The regime is gone; the images perdure.” – William Meyers; Shades of Reality; The Wall Street Journal (New York); Mar 10, 2012.
Explore “perdure” in the Visual Thesaurus.
MEANING: (noun), Rain or snow that evaporates before hitting the ground.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin virga (rod, streak).
USAGE: “Macduff Everton’s images are so physical and tactile, you can nearly feel the moisture in the virga.” – Len Jenshel; 25 All-Time Best Photo Books; National Geographic Traveler (Washington, DC); Jan/Feb 2005.
Explore “virga” in the Visual Thesaurus.
MEANING: (adjective), Easily irritated or angered; hot-tempered.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin cholericus, from Greek cholerikos, from chole (bile). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ghel- (to shine) that is also the source of words such as yellow, gold, glimmer, gloaming, glimpse, glass, arsenic, and cholera.
USAGE: “In every choleric outburst from Sir Alan, every lifted eyebrow and pursed lip from his lieutenants, the subtext is clear.” – Libby Purves; The Apprentice; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Jun 6, 2009.
Delving Further Into ‘Farther’
Q: I keep seeing “farther” and “further” used interchangeably. Have the rules changed? From a full page ad for “Jet Suite”: “Flights further West possible but subject to higher rates.” But this is from a newspaper story about an artist: “Farther afield, V’s photography is on view in an Asheville, N.C., gallery.” It’s hard to keep these straight. SOS! –Joe S. via email
A: Hmmm … I wonder if I could hop a Jet Suite to Asheville to see that photography exhibit.
But here I am daydreaming while you’re crying “S.O.S.!” It is indeed hard to keep “farther” and “further” straight. Until the 20th century, the two terms were used pretty much interchangeably.
But around 1900, some grammarians got the bright idea that “farther” should be reserved for physical distance (“farther from the moon”), while “further” should indicate a figurative addition of quantity or degree (“let’s discuss this further”). So under this edict, the line in the Jet Suite ad should indeed read, “Flights farther West.”
The problem is that sometimes the writer’s meaning is ambiguous. In your second example, for instance, is the writer referring to the literal distance to Asheville, which would require “farther”? Or is the writer broaching an additional topic, as in, “On an another note,” which would require “further”?
Or consider the sentence: “Nothing could be further from my mind.” Should it be “farther from my mind”? It’s hard to say.
The Brits, God bless ‘em, make no distinction between the two words, and we Yanks have a tendency to lap up British usages like milk-craving kittens. We’ve fallen in love, for instance, not only with England’s “Downton Abbey,” but also with its downtown gabbies: “suss out,” “vet” (“to examine”) and “gone missing.” Yep, they’re all British imports.
But I’ve ranged further — farther? — afield than I intended and have nearly forgotten to field your question. Usage expert Bryan Garner ranks the use of “further” for physical distance and “farther” for figurative distance as “Stage 4″ usages: “Virtually universal, but opposed on cogent grounds by a few linguistic stalwarts.”
I say, my fellow stalwarts, let’s stand our ground — cogent or not — and stall these linguistic warts. For physical distance, use “farther”; for figurative distance, use “further.” Just remember this far-out mnemonic: There’s an “a” in both “physical” and “farther,” and a “u” in both “figurative” and “further.”
Rob Kyff, a teacher and writer in West Hartford, Conn., invites your language sightings. Send your reports of misuse and abuse, as well as examples of good writing, via e-mail to Wordguy@aol.com or by regular mail to Rob Kyff, Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
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