Broadish

My grandparents lived in a wonderful house on a wide street that was not long. In fact, it was only two or three blocks long, but wide enough to easily do a u-turn. And it was generally not used to get anywhere that wasn’t on that street. I would even describe that street as quite broad, while Broad St. in my own hometown is only broadish in comparison.

The house had been configured with an apartment upstairs at one time, so the rooms both upstairs and downstairs were not quite normal. The dining room had been a bedroom, so it was closed in and not large. But the living room was actually double, and directly below what was basically my grandparents’ double bedroom. The attic had stairs and was somewhat finished, and my grandmother never called it an attic, but always “the third floor”. The basement was also somewhat finished, with rooms where she kept canned goods–mostly grape jelly and peach halves, as I recall. And in the middle of the basement was a pool table which was usually covered by special plywood sheets to turn it into a ping pong table.

Image of my grandparents' house.
117 East Ave Swedesboro, NJ

Of course, this week’s word is “broadish”, which means “rather broad” (am I the only one who hears that in a British accent?). Pretty obvious meaning, even if it’s not a particularly commonly used word. Though sticking “ish” at the end of a word, or even a sentence is pretty popular right now. “We hit traffic on the way, so it took us longer than expected. Ish.” It has a tempering effect. “I wouldn’t say your voice is loud, but it is loud-ish.”

When I saw the word, “broadish”, I thought of the broadness of my grandparent’s street, and I was reminded of their house where they lived most of their lives. I have many, many fond memories of that house on that street. Maybe the street didn’t need to be so broad for the memories to be good, but my memories are definitely impacted by it.

Unscarfed

Last week’s random word was one that had been unfamiliar to me; I had to look it up and even read the definition multiple times to catch its precision. This week also brings an unfamiliar word, but with a pretty obvious meaning. Unscarfed is defined as not wearing a scarf, or not eaten (ie. not scarfed down). Yeah, that second meaning would be considered “informal”, at best. Only two meanings, and only an adjective. In contrast, the definitions of “scarf” are much more interesting and varied. It made me wonder if unscarf should be expanded…

Scarfed and unscarfed.


It seems that someone who removed a scarf could say they unscarfed, just as they would have said they undressed when they removed their clothes, and we’d have a verb. But if we allow unscarfed to refer to the removal of a scarf, then what effect would that have in the slang meaning, after someone has scarfed too much food too quickly? Unpleasant to imagine, but maybe a new euphemism to replace “blew cookies”.
Another interesting point that wasn’t my first thought was that a scarf is not just a long knit rectangle to keep our necks warm in the winter, but also a headscarf, worn over the head and hair. My grandmother used to wear a scarf over her hair after finishing at the hairdresser. I suppose it was to protect from the wind; it certainly couldn’t have been warm. Almost transparent, barely any weight at all, and she only wore it outside. When she was inside, she would be unscarfed.
Many woman all over the world wear headscarfs for religious/modesty reasons, and often abandon the scarfs when they are “westernized”. For the devout, then, unscarfed would be a bad thing: corrupted. Or vulnerable. There is a pivotal scene in the movie, Witness, where Kelly McGillis’ Amish character removes her head covering, symbolizing vulnerability and perhaps defiance, as well.
On a more personal level, this week sees the end of boot camp and infantry training for my youngest child, who joined the Army National Guard in the Spring, and we’ve hardly gotten to see him since. It will be a proud moment to see him graduate, but seeing him daily will be a pretty good thing. And much of the unscarfed food in our cabinet will only survive a few days longer before he arrives and begins his “debriefing activities”.

Epigraphic

My wife and I traveled to Israel in 2018, and were part of a small tour group while we were there. The size of the group is only important, perhaps, because it allowed us to spend much less time waiting for the rest of the group than a large group would. We had 19 people on a single bus. Friends of ours were on a tour with about 600 people on 14 buses. Although they were happy with their choice, the time spent waiting was a “con”.

One stop on our tour was Caesarea Maritima, which was essentially the Roman capital of Israel during the time of Jesus. Back in 1961, a block of carved limestone was discovered there, which contains an inscription regarding Pontius Pilate, widely known as the Roman official who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus, and had “King of the Jews” posted on the cross as his offense. In any case, the block is called the Pilate Stone, and a copy is on display in the ruins there in Caesarea Maritima.

Pilate Stone replica on display in Caesarea Maritima, Israel.
Photo by Jamie Harre.

You can look up the details on Wikipedia under Pilate Stone, instead of me plagiarizing the article, here. But I noticed that the article never mentions the word “epigraphic”, which relates to the study of epigraphs, or inscriptions. Why is that important? I thought it was the best chance I had of seeing the word in use in something to which I could relate. Epigraphic is my random word of the day, and I was hoping I could see it used in context, rather than just in a definition.

In fact, I didn’t find any colleges that offered the major (apologies if I just didn’t search hard/smart enough). I’m not even sure I found any colleges in the US that offered a single course dedicated to it. But if they do, it would be in the department of classics, or something similar, and probably focuses on Greek and/or Latin. It makes sense that the actual language of the epigraph would matter, I guess.

In the Pilate Stone article, all credit for discovering and interpreting the stone is given to “archaeologists”, who would probably have been trained in epigraphy, if they found a school that offered the training. Coincidentally, the Pilate Stone was discovered in June, 1961, but I was too busy being born to have noticed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigraphy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilate_stone

You’ve found it. Read on.

We use words (spoken), and symbols of words (written), as the primary tools to essentially copy what is in our own brains into someone else’s brain. Or even to mass copy what is in one brain into many, even millions of other brains. This is amazing.

We use pictures, too. Sometimes the words just compliment the pictures, and sometimes it’s the other way around. Words and pictures, or pictures and words, produced and propelled in digital form make up almost 2 billion websites. Also amazing.

So, regarding this website, having generated a list of random words as “seeds”, I’ll add a picture or two and a collection of other words to the random selection and have some fun with it. Maybe even learn something. Each week. WOW.

By the way, I’m Jamie. I have a regular corporate job, but I’ve also started a few businesses which are still in operation, including a couple related to photography. So, most of the pictures I use will be my own, with maybe some exceptions. Thanks for joining me.

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