From ‘Lonesome Dove’ to mnemonic devices

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Remembering a good ol’ book titled Lonesome Dove, written by Larry McMurtry.

From the back cover: A love story, an adventure, an epic of the frontier, “Lonesome Dove,” is the grandest novel ever written about the last, defiant American Journey to the dusty little Texas town of unforgettable characters.

From Words You Thought You Knew by Jenna  Glatzer:

ω disburse/disperse

To disburse is to pay out. You don’t want to get that confused with disperse, which means to scatter or dissipate.

From Merriam-Webster’s Book of Word Histories:

ω A study of mercy.

Mercy is not something that can be bought or sold; yet it does have connection with the marketplace. It was borrowed into Middle English from Old French mercit, merci, which had the same range of senses as English nerct. It is ultimately derived from Latin merces, meaning the price paid for something – wages, reward or recompense. Merces is derived from Latin merx, ware or merchandise.

ω A study of mesmerize.

Denounced as a quack by some and hailed as the discoverer of a great medical break through by others, Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) was the sensation of late 18th century Europe.

A graduate of a traditional medical school in Vienna, Mesmer early on developed unorthodox medical beliefs. In his doctor’s thesis, he said that the planets have a direct influence on all the  tissues of the human body. He claimed that a mysterious fluid that permeated all matter, both living or dead. He claimed that an ancient Greek physician, Galen, believed that his animal magnetism could affect eppolepci and hysteria.

In short, Mesmer became associated with a “treatment” that did not have the approval of the establishment of that day.

Galen was denounced, and so was Mesmer. His name became a word defined as practicing magic, not medicine, and that Mesmer was associated with unorthodox medicine.

Mesmer was eventually dismissed, but not before he established some credibility with a “far out”crowd that eventually trailed off.

The use of “mesmerize” as a word describes a person as being confused. It is certainly not a word associated with medical science.

Definitions from The Associated Press Stylebook (1993):

ω New South: The era that began in the South in the 1960s with a thriving economy and the election of the state officials who advocate the abolition of racial segregation. Old South applies to the South before the Civil War.

ω reluctant, reticent

Reluctant means unwilling to act: He is reluctant to enter the primary. Reticent means unwilling to speak: The candidate’s husband is reticent.

Do you remember mnemonic devices from years ago? One way to remember how to spell the word restaurant was to remember the “au” in the middle of the word. I called it the Auburn mnemonic because of the AU.

It’s an AUburn restaurant.

Gillis Morgan is an associate professor emeritus of journalism at Auburn University and an award-winning columnist. He can be reached at morgarg7@aol.com 

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