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Sometimes in your day-to-day life you happen across an interesting word. It's the easiest way to learn a new word. But how often does this happen?

"Not often," you might think, and so I'd thought before I started doing words-a-day. But nowadays, as I go about my everyday reading, I am much more apt to notice words that might be interesting candidates for words-a-day. Some are fairly obscure and unfamiliar terms that you'd not want to use in conversation (they might not be understood), but most are words you may know but don't use in conversationally. They are not just curiousities; they would useful additions to your everyday speech.

My point is that far more such words than you might suppose are available to you in your daily reading. To illustrate this, our new theme presents words that were found in a single newspaper last Monday, ready for the reader to seize.

mecca – a place which attracts many people of a particular group or with a particular interest
[from the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims. In other words, a toponym, like the words of our previous theme.]
    The leaders of the [Kazakhstan] were once so outraged by Sacha Baron Cohen's lewd fictional alter ego, "Kazakh TV reporter Borat Sagdiyev," that their president is said to have complained to President Bush …. … Then came the hit movie, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" … Its success fast proved … 'that any publicity is good publicity.'

    Even with its Caspian oil riches, Kazakhstan couldn't buy this sort of global exposure. As the film took off, … cable TV travel shows sent reporters to the country's beautiful mountains and came back touting an unspoiled holiday destination. Hotel.com reports a post-Borat 300% spike in searches for accommodation … The New York Times wrote … that the country's 'once sleepy second city, Almaty, has become a designer mecca.' Naturally.
    – Wall Street Journal, Dec. 4, 2006

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I don't know about in the US but in the UK it's also the name of a chain of bingo halls.
 
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My late father-in-law used to live in Ohio by a couple of towns called Mecca (on the east side of Mosquito Lake) and West Mecca (on the west side of said lake).


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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iconic – of an icon; that is, of a pictorial representation
    The iconic design of the Journal will remain steadfast, from the prominent "What's News" column on page one to our stipple dot drawings to the return of the "Pepper … and Salt" cartoon to the daily editorial pages.
We saw the word stipple (dotted) here.
 
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Two words today from opposite ends of the age spectrum.

nascent – just coming into existence and beginning to develop
[from Latin nasci to be born; akin to English genus and genesis]
    Comedy Central … will air a political parody show produced by [a] start-up wireless carrier …, marking the first time that a U.S. TV network will broadcast a show originally produced for cell phones. … [This] raises to a new level the nascent business of developing TV shows for cell phones, demonstrating that it has potential to become a breeding ground for TV content.
nonagenarian – a person between 90 and 99 years old (also adj.)
[Latin nonaginta ninety]
    The Spanish government recently feted nonagenarian foreign veterans who volunteered to fight against Franco in the Civil War [1936-1939].
Bonus word:
fête
noun: a celebration or festival; verb: to honor or entertain lavishly
 
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I'd hope you'd concentrate on words of Type 2

..;.for which I'm most grateful. This Type should be used more often. Transcribe it onto a Post-It, stick it to your PC or the wall adjacent, and use it often
 
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Type 2

Could you define your three types? I think you've got your boards mixed up.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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That happens every so often. I thought it was somewhere in WC so I went to the search algorithm, which however, is way too hard to use; so I will summarize

Type 1: Common word such as you might find as Basic English; eg, laugh 2. guffaw, a more descriptive word which nonetheless most folks are familiar with, and 3. Snooty: Cachinnation
 
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I went to the search algorithm

Fascinating (no etymological pun intended.) Did you download the code and analyze it? Or, simply reverse engineer the algorithm for the search function by observing its behavior? Oh, I'm sorry; I guess you were speaking Dalese. Let me get out my Universal Translator (TM). There:

I used the search function.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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zm: I don't understand your objection. An algorithm is a subset of instructions. Eg, Spellcheck is an algorithm of Word
 
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I don't understand your objection. An algorithm is a subset of instructions. Spellcheck is an algorithm of Word

This is wrong, as I and others have already told you, yet you persist in being wrong.

Spellcheck is one of Word's many functions. The algorithms used for spellchecking are many and quite varied (I know, I've studied some of them), and we users (outside of Microsoft) have no way of knowing which algorithms the software engineers at Microsoft used.

For example, one program given to many beginning programmers is to write a program that sorts the numbers or words in a list to be in numeric or alphabetical order. Many students usually implement the bubble sort, but the smarter ones know that there are different sort algorithms which will work quicker than the bubble sort, and use one of those. Just as I could use two different algorithms to make change. Suppose somebody buys something from me for $2.50. They give me a five dollar bill. How do I make change?

Algorithm 1: Start out with the amount the customer gave you, and start giving them pennies. Add 0.01 to the sale amount until you've reached the tendered amount. (That is, their change will be 250 pennies.)

Algorithm 2: Start with the largest denomination of currency or coin, subtracting as you go until your operation would give you a negative amount, and then switch to the next lower currency or coin. Continue until you reach zero. (That is their change will be two dollar bills and two quarters.

Both programs (or functions if they were a subpart of a program give correct change $2.50, but most people would use the 2nd algorithm for making change. Do you see the difference between making change (function) and how to make change (algorithm)?


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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cognitive dissonance –the mental discomfort of simultaneously holding incompatible attitudes, beliefs, knowledge, etc.

It is fascinating how the mind will struggle to alleviate the tension. Here's an illustrative extract from the article that gave me this term. (You can find the full article reprinted here.)
    In the aftermath of a severe earthquake, people who lived in a region that had felt the shock but were spared death and destruction began circulating rumors that other terrible disasters were about to befall them -- a cyclone, a flood, another earthquake or "unforeseeable calamities." Why would rumors arise that provoked rather than allayed anxiety, especially among people who hadn't suffered any immediate loss? And why were the rumors so widely accepted?

    When feelings and facts are in opposition, people will find -- or invent -- a way to reconcile them. The people who had narrowly escaped the earthquake were scared, but their fear seemed largely unjustified. The rumors provided people with information that fit how they already felt, reducing what [the researcher] called their "cognitive dissonance."
 
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kowtow – to be excessively subservient towards someone
    The Senators … have enormous power to punish Exxon if it doesn't kowtow to them. … we've seen what happens to other companies that dare to resist Congressional intimidation.
 
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zm: Yes I thik so. You're saying that an algorithm is a set of rules from which a subroutine can be compiled

But others maintain that it can also refer to the code, or subroutine, itself. No doubt a semantic change or shift, but the defs I can find seem to include it

A very fine point indeed, but one I think perhaps vividly demonstrating the difference between prescriptivist and descriptive points of view
 
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You're saying that an algorithm is a set of rules from which a subroutine can be compiled

I said nothing of the sort.


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infographics – visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics are used anywhere where information needs to be explained quickly or simply, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education
[definition from wikipedia; not defined in the usual dictionaries]
    [In the newspaper,] a new style of infograpics and data visualization will deliver more information in less time.
 
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Discussion closed.
 
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