☆ (theidolhands) wrote in 1word1day,


Saturday & Sunday Words: Tautology & Incunabula

tau•tol•o•gy [tô-tŏl′ə-jē]:
origin: [1570] Latin; tautologia= "redundant" + logos= "logic"

To repeat words or phrases without actually saying anything, or in a redundant fashion that conveys no new information; a vacuous statement made in such a way that all possibilities become true.

"And when you lick a snozzberry, it tastes just exactly like a snozzberry..."
- Willy Wonka, from Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

"Begin at the beginning," the King said..."and go on till you come to the end: then stop."
- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

in·cu·nab·u·lum [ˌinkyəˈnabyələm]:
origin: [1849] Latin; incunabula cradle, birthplace, origin

Books created before the Gutenberg printing press, specifically before the year 1501.
see also: incunable, incunabulum, and incunables.

Tomes made without the Gutenberg press still came into existence after this date, but would not be formally called incunabula. It's one of those arbitrary things like 12 inches in a foot or "i" before "e", but an actual person can be held accountable for this one, a nobleman named Bernhard von Mallinckrodt --- an avid collector of books & Catholic convert -- the concept and selected date appear in his own Gutenberg printed pamphlet, celebrating the 200th anniversary of printing press technology; De Ortu et Progressu Artis Typographicae. And everyone has abided by Lord Berhard's lovely Latin phrasing contained therein = "prima typographicae incunabula", or "the birth of printing". At that time, his pamphlet was a forerunner of many pamphlets cataloging such libraries.

Incunabula are fanciful and frequently illustrated, sometimes using carefully carved wood blocks for entire pages or meticulously lettered by hand -- the stuff of Borges' nightmares and Wizard dreams are made of...

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...as well as their cats (genuine Medieval artifact).

Tags: i, latin, noun, t, wordsmith: theidolhands

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