The Dailies

Word of the Day

Niche (n., NITCH or NEESH)

A small corner or place for holding something, a small cranny in a rock, or a specialized area of focus or ideal situation. If you think that is a lot of definitions for a single word, consider its pronunciation. To quote the American Heritage dictionary:

Niche was borrowed from French in the 1600s and Anglicized shortly thereafter. Many French borrowings have troublesome pronunciations, because most English speakers can't speak French very well, if at all. Niche presents an interesting variation of this pattern. It was quickly converted into a comfortable English-sounding word, pronounced (nĭch) and rhyming with itch. But in the 1900s, people familiar with French thought that a word that looked French should sound French, and so the Francophone pronunciation (nēsh), rhyming with quiche, was revived. Some Americans consider this pronunciation to be an affectation; however, it is standard in Britain and is included in most American dictionaries. The hybrid pronunciation (nēch), which takes something from each version to rhyme with leech, is less favored, perhaps because it makes one look as though one doesn't know what language one is speaking. In our 2005 survey, 69 percent of the Usage Panel found it unacceptable.

The people who would know that have a very specific set of skills, not unlike Liam Neeson, and are good examples of this word.

Gif of the Day

TagsHandsWizardryMagic Man!PendantsJust teasing?

Link of the Day

Giant octopus carved into redwood tree trunk

A prolific and self-taught woodcarver has carved an octopus out of a giant redwood tree trunk in Washington state. Jeffrey Michael Samodusky has carved a number of items since 1998, but this one is both huge and expertly done, appearing on top of the tree rather than part of it:

There are a lot more images of this octopus and other projects over at Samodusky's website. Go check them out.

TagsCarvingOctopusRedwoodVery large thingsI'm a sucker for this stuff?