Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Words for the week

by shamanic

As a poet, one of the things I love most in the world is coming across words I don't know, unfamiliar neologisms, and similar delights of our living language.

Yesterday was a banner day for it, with no fewer than two new terms coming across my radar screen. One was Gen. Petraeus' ethno-sectarian-- a mash-up (and mash-up, by the way, is another fine example of what I'm talking about) term that seems designed to cover any sort of political violence in Iraq that doesn't involve American soldiers.

Though arguably, any incident where American soldiers injure or kill Iraqis would fall under one or both parts of "ethno-sectarian".

The second, and far more interesting term I heard yesterday was found in the melting ice fields of the far north, a linguistic addition that owes its genesis to climate change: drunken forests. Apparently many pine and spruce forests in southern Alaska took root in permafrost, which is now melting, casting the still-living trees every which way. Here's a picture.

How out-in-front am I with the drunken forests thing? Pretty far: I can't find a Wikipedia entry for it. I didn't know that was possible.

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