July 23rd, 2017


Word of the Day 07/23/17 Unalienable

Unalienable (adjective)
unalienable [uhn-eyl-yuh-nuh-buh l, -ey-lee-uh-]

1. not transferable to another or not capable of being taken away or denied; inalienable: Inherent in the U.S. Constitution is the belief that all people are born with an unalienable right to freedom.

See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com

[Word Story]Word story
Each year, when the Fourth of July, or Independence Day, rolls around, we often hear discussions about the most resonant passages in the country’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence. Particular attention is paid to its arguably most famous pronouncement: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Often noted are the antiquated use of capital letters to emphasize important concepts—like Creator, Life, and Liberty—and the sexist use of the phrase “all men” to stand for “all people.” But why write unalienable when the most common form of the word is inalienable?

Historians have pointed out that in a draft of the Declaration of Independence, its author Thomas Jefferson wrote “certain inherent and inalienable rights,” choosing to use alliteration. But Jefferson’s wording and spelling were later changed to “certain unalienable Rights.” To add to the apparent mystery, on a wall in the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., the phrase appears as “certain inalienable rights,” and inalienable is the spelling found in most modern quotations from the Declaration.

In one way, the solution to the puzzle is simple: until sometime in the 1830s, unalienable was the overwhelmingly preferred spelling. But since then, inalienable gradually replaced it. Today, were it not for our annual commemoration of the Declaration of Independence, the spelling unalienable would be all but forgotten.

In another way, the answer to the puzzle is less straightforward: it is evidence of the constantly competing and changing word forms found in English. There are many other examples of unruly rivalries involving the prefixes in- (from Latin) and un- (from Old and Middle English), both jostling for dominance in the formation of “not” compounds. For example, inarguable and unarguable have been fighting it out for well over a century. Although both forms are still in use, inarguable recently began to clearly edge out its rival. In contrast, unability may have once had its day, but it has virtually disappeared from English, bested by its rival, inability. (But we still prefer unable for the associated adjective.) Sometimes un- and in- have helped us create differences in meanings. For example, inhuman (in the sense of “cruel”) is contrasted with unhuman (in the sense of “not being human”). And inartistic (in the sense of referring to a person lacking artistic sense) is contrasted with unartistic (in the sense of referring to something not done artistically).

So the Fourth of July can also remind us that word forms in English are constantly changing and revitalizing the language.

Origin: First recorded in 1610-20; un- + alienable

Now YOU come up with a sentence (or fic? or graphic?) that best illustrates the word.
1MW-august rush

Calling for August Rush fandoms & volunteers! And a word about the Weekend Challenge schedule

Before I get onto August Rush, I would just like to thank everyone for your patience with this very absent mod, and also to let all our weekend challenge volunteers know that I have a schedule done; I just need to find time to code and post it. Apologies to everyone involved - I appreciate you all taking time to volunteer your time and services to the comm! I have been in contact with those who have already kicked the new schedule off, but I hope to get it posted for everyone else to see in the next few days. So that I don't forget, kitmerlot1213, do you think you can handle next weekend for me?

And now for August Rush! Those of you who have been with us for longer than a year will know about the fun we have with this largely visual feast of prompts from 5 or 6 fandoms every year in August!!! I am a bit slow to get underway this year, but with your help we can make it happen. I need suggestions for fandoms to visit this year! Comment away with up to five fandoms that YOU would participate in August Rush for. You don't have to do all of the fandoms if you play with us, nor do you have to do every single day's prompts, but you can if you want; it's pretty open!

Also comment if you can help with choosing 20 high res screenshots for one or more fandoms that get chosen this year, and/or if you're willing to help post the daily prompt posts over the month of August Rush.

I hope to get the picture prompts organised next weekend, so before then there will be a poll mid-week, and then an announcement by the end of the week on the final fandoms. Please get those suggestions in today, and then vote as soon as you can once the poll is up.

I'll screen the comments today, but will reply and unscreen if you're volunteering to help.

AND, I'm not discounting fandoms we've covered in previous years this time around, so if you want H50 or NCIS or anything else we've looked at before, suggest away! ;-)