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A.Word.A.Day--eudemonia

Pronunciation RealAudio

eudemonia (yoo-di-MO-nee-uh) noun, also eudaemonia

1. A state of happiness and well-being.

2. In Aristotelian philosophy, happiness in a life of activity governed by reason.

[From Greek eudaimonia (happiness), from eudaimon (having a good genius, happy), from eu- (good) + daimon (spirit, fate, fortune).]

"A Japanese delegation from the `blessed garden' city of Eniwa visited Timaru to extend its understanding of the role flower gardens play in modern urban eudemonia, among other things." Tom McKinlay, Tom McKinlay in Ashburton, The Press (Christchurch, New Zealand), Jan 26, 2002.

"We identify ourselves with the world of magazine publishing, yes, but we identify even more passionately with the all absorbing world of dance -- and that is perhaps the source of our strength and success. In terms of eudemonia, you might say that we have been supremely blessed. Our demons have been very good to us indeed!" Richard Philp, Seventy, Dance Magazine (New York), Jun 1997.

December 15 will be the anniversary of the birth of L.L. Zamenhof (1859-1917), physician and philologist, best known as the creator of Esperanto. Designed as a common International language, Esperanto is the most popular artificial language ever devised.

Why would one want to have a single language rather than a rainbow of languages, dialects, sounds, and intonations? How else would we have multi-lingual puns, lost-in-translation gems, and other cross-linguistic humor? And what better way to understand other cultures but by understanding their languages? The etymology of the name Esperanto (from Latin sperare, to hope) gives us a good indication of the motivation behind its invention.

Growing up in Poland, among an ethnic population of Poles, Germans, and mostly Yiddish-speaking Jews, Zamenhof witnessed violence arising from language conflicts and envisioned a world that had a common tongue, free of ambiguity and misunderstanding. His goal was not to replace other languages with Esperanto. Rather, he hoped to create an auxiliary language to link people who spoke in diverse tongues. He called it Esperanto, from his pseudonym Dr. Esperanto, literally one who hopes.

While Zamenhof's vision of a single international language was a lofty one and he had noble intentions, Esperanto achieved limited success. It is still the most popular invented language, though far from being adopted worldwide. For better or worse, English has become the Esperanto of the 21st century.

In this week's AWAD we'll see words from some of the languages that have contributed most of the wordstock of the English language.

-Anu

X-Bonus

Him that I love, I wish to be free -- even from me. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh, writer (1906-2001)

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