Sunday, July 13, 2008


One of these days I really have to tackle the margin of this blog, and put a Blog List up there, with links to some of the wonderful blogs I’ve been discovering. That may sound easy enough for most people, but to my constant frustration, setting up things on the computer is one of my most difficult trials in life. I didn’t set up either of my blogs myself. I figured out how I wanted them to look, but for the technical set up, I turned to someone else. I simply have no aptitude for such things. I am…what’s an antonym for “savant”…? says it’s “ignoramus.” Well, I don’t like to think of that as a shoe that fits…but however it’s worded, I am definitely computer-challenged.

Words come into and go out of usage all the time. Professional lexicographers have probably never been as busy as they have been the last half-century or so, with all the words we’ve been adding to describe our technological pursuits. But just as many words get dropped. I still have the Webster’s that was in the house when I was growing up, dated in the 1940s. It’s full of quaint and antique words that often listed their origin as “Scottish dialect,” almost none of which are in my current edition, or even the last couple of editions (I update every decade or so, and never get rid of the old ones). Even if they stick around, word meanings change or are added to on the fly. Take the word “strand.” Most people probably think of long hair, or a pearl necklace first, but modern technology has really taken that definition and expanded it to cover all kinds of situations. You’ll notice the use of the word “strand” as applied to the seashore is being called “poetic.” Where words are concerned, being called poetic can sometimes be one of the warning signs before being tossed into the dictionary dumpster for good. I for one do not want to see the sea- strand go.

My friend Christine at the Quiet Paths blog has put up a post (July 12th) titled “Along the Strand,” accompanied by a lovely photo of a Washington State beach, taken by son Aly. The word “strand” stood out for me, because I hadn’t heard or seen it used in that context for a while. I decided to check on it, just to see how it was faring in its lexicographical journey, and made an interesting discovery. I always assumed that “strand” was simply a pretty synonym for “shore,” but in checking further, I discovered that “shore” is actually only the broadest definition of “strand.” More specifically, “strand” means the tidal zone that is covered and uncovered by the changing tides, as in Aly's photograph. Being the wordie that I am, I was very happy to have this clarified. (Christine’s blog is an inspiration to many, and when I get that Blog List up, she will definitely be there!) And I am going to do my bit to help keep this definition of “strand” alive, too. I don’t think that we have a true strand along Lake Erie. There would technically be tides, just not ones you’d notice. But there are beautiful stretches where the waves lap, sweep, or crash the beach. I’m going to start calling my favorite walking spot a strand.

Photo of “stranded” fish by D. Godin

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