Trojan War Terms

Most of us are familiar with at least some military slang. We hear it on the news, or in movies, we served in the military at some point. But this week we present a look at some terms associated with a war from very long ago.

These terms are English words and phrases that are associated with the Trojan War, a mythic conflict immortalized in Homer’s two epics The Iliad and The Odyssey and in Virgil’s Aeneid.

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Newspaper Jargon

This week we present a short glossary of newspaper jargon terms:

above the fold, adj., used to describe an article placed on the top half of the front page, so it is visible when the paper is folded. Also below the fold.

agate, n., a small type used in newspapers primarily for statistics (sports, stocks), approximately 5.5 points (1/14 inch) high. An American term (the English equivalent is ruby type) dating to 1838, the name comes from a series of typefaces named after precious stones.

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Words Of The Street

A toponym is a name of something that denotes a geographical place, usually the place of origin of the thing named. The words spa (a town in Belgium), Watergate (a hotel and office building, site of famous burglary), and rugby (a school in Britain) are toponyms for, respectively, a resort, a political scandal, and a sport.

Among toponyms, a few are street names that have come to be associated with industries and activities located there. Perhaps the most famous is Wall Street, the toponym meaning the US financial markets. The metaphorical use comes from the fact that many of the largest financial institutions have traditionally had their headquarters on that Manhattan Street. The metaphorical usage dates to 1841.

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Theories & Intelligent Design

The Kansas State Board of Education is currently debating whether a theory called intelligent design should be used to present criticisms of evolution in Biology classes. The board, which has an evangelical Christian conservative majority, is widely expected to approve a measure that requires criticism of evolution be taught in Kansas schools, but the exact nature and wording of the new policy is still in the works.

The current push for intelligent design as an alternative to evolution has its roots in the US courts striking down the teaching of creation science. Creation science is the teaching of the literal text of Genesis as scientific truth. US federal courts have consistently ruled that creation science is a religious doctrine, not scientific truth and its instruction in public schools is a violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which forbids the establishment of a state religion. Intelligent design skirts this prohibition by not advocating any specific creation story, but rather simply argues that the complexity of nature requires that there be a designer; many organisms and biological structures are too complex to have come about by chance.

Despite the current push for intelligent design being a response to the courtroom failures of creation science, intelligent design is the older of the two terms; it even predates Darwin’s concept of evolution by natural selection. The Oxford English Dictionary dates intelligent design to 1847, in an article in Scientific American:

The great store-house of nature—the innumerable and diversified objects there presented to our view give evidence of infinite skill and intelligent design in the adaptation to each other and to the nature of man.

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