I’ve talked here before about what have been called “word moments” (a phrase which I dearly love for its multiple uses and the clarity of the experience it describes). I just had one of those, and I had to share it so that maybe someone else will have the kind of realization I did.

I’ve been sitting in front of this laptop for a while now trying to pound away from of these blasted assignments, and I glanced over at the newest issue of English Journal, which I just received in the past few days (and which I would much prefer to read instead of doing these useless assignments). For some moment, the analytical part of my mind parsed the latter word in that title in a way it never has before: Jour/nal. My first thought, despite the fact that I don’t speak the language at all, was of the French word jour, “day.” Upon thinking it over further, my mind went to journals of the personal sort, the kind that you write in daily. Even the idea of journalism and dailies (newspapers that print daily) popped into my head.

After these kinds of thoughts, I had to pursue the etymology further to confirm or disconfirm my linguistic hypothesis, and to my surprise, it was confirmed but in a slightly different way – journal does in fact appear to come to us through Old/Anglo-French, although the root itself is Latin, from diurnalis, “daily.” (It is curious to me how the introductory Latin “diu-” sound became the French “jou-,” but then again, I don’t claim to be a linguist, just an interested observer.)

Interestingly enough, I consciously re-parsed the word as journ/al, which I immediately associated with the word adjourn. Turns out that the root and etymological connection are the same.

Okay, now the updates:

  • I signed a contract on Thursday for the school that I’ll be working for in the fall and confirmed that I will be teaching four courses: sophomore English, junior English, senior English, and an elective writing/novels course (although the emphasis for the first semester is more creative writing than research; I might try to incorporate research into it, though). I was also able to see my room, which is surprisingly nice given the class sizes I’ll have and the size/income of the district. (I have a pod of 4 computers at the back of my room, and the teacher’s computer is hooked up to a large TV, which is also connected with a DVD/VCR combo. That’s really good, all things considered.)
  • The same day, I brought home a wagonload – literally – of material to begin preparing over the summer. (I say “literally” because the material filled an actual wagon that one of the teachers had brought to school, which the principal and I took out to my car to unload.) This included the teacher’s editions for all three of the new textbooks that were purchased for the main sections, as well as a great deal of supplementary materials for the American lit text (for junior English), including a dozen or so CDs of software, several little books for writing and other areas, and even a book of lesson plans.
  • Thursday night, the board approved me as a teacher for the fall, so I am good to go there.
  • Finally, the unofficial scores came back on Friday evening for my APT test (see here), and I scored 286 out of 300 (scaled). I only needed 240 to pass, and this was the final step that I needed to take care of to be 9-12 certified. (The 6-8 certification, of course, will be in order once I get these middle school courses completed.

Everything’s working well, and I’ve got a lot of work ahead. (The incoming juniors and seniors have already been told that they’re very behind because of this year of English, so the task to get them caught up is a little daunting.) At least, though, everything is moving forward.

A coworker of mine sent me a link that is very interesting: Amazing Posts: Longest Words.

I knew some of these facts before reading the page, such as pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis being the longest word in the English language and redivider being the longest palindromic word (a fact I discovered when preparing a lesson on palindromes for seventh graders last fall). Others were facts I hadn’t even considered because the criteria simply never occurred to me (the longest word consisting solely of alternating consonants and vowels?).

A note in addition: A few commenters note that it is not strictly true that spoonfed is “theĀ longest word with its letters arranged in reverse alphabetical order” under the conditions that seem to be implicitly involved in the determination. Spoonfeed would seem to fulfill that description if one assumes that consecutive double letters do not violate the reverse alphabetization, which must obviously be assumed if one is to say thatĀ spoonfed meets the criteria. Kudos to the commenters who pointed out this error.

Teachers, students, or other interested parties: Would these facts fit into the language arts classroom? If so, how? What could students take away from these seemingly trivial facts that might enhance their view of language? I don’t know the answer, but I’d love to hear some opinions on the matter.