Sunday, August 8, 2010

Salon! SALON! S A L O N!!!

That's how my lovely wife entitled an email message to the members of the same. She had invited them to "Solon" (groan) at our house and I had shot off a terse message to her asking the word "solon" were some inside joke, an ambiguous use of "Solon" (who was an Athenian statesman in the 6th century BC).

Anyway, I requested either an explanation or the us of the word "salon" which is a "gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation." (See Salon in Wikipedia)

I think for our salonnières, the empahis is on to amuse one another through conversation (not to speak of the quantity of wine that is consumed at such gatherings).

I find that the misspelling, misuse, mispronunciation or misunderstanding of an obscure word happens quite frequently. Just this morning one of my favorites came up as I listened to NPR's
Weekend Edition Sunday. I do hold its host, Liane Hansen, in highest esteem because of her smarts and her interviewing skills, but this morning she blooped: she mispronounced the French expression coup de grâce (blow of mercy) as coup de gras meaning "blow of fat." Ms. Hansen, the s (and even a hint of the e) is pronounced in the former, while in the latter, it is not. This is so common a mistake that there is a reference in the Wikipedia entry for coup de grâce, and they even have a BIG word for that type of mistake: it is a hyperforeignism. Whoa, whoever came up with that word!? 

Disclaimer: I cannot claim that I have not made this type of mistake. 

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