Sunday, June 26, 2005

June 25, 2005

The world's longest-married: now a claim from Kerala
 
George Jacob
KOTTAYAM: It was no case of love at first sight, but a truly arranged Christian marriage in Kerala's Central Travancore region, where the family patriarchs called the shots.
 
And when 13-year-old Philipose Thomas tied the knot with Sosamma on a sunny February day he was a Class 7 student and the 12-year-old bride, one class his junior. "After marriage I went to school and completed Class 9 ," said Mr. Thomas. But Ms. Sosamma was less lucky on that count. "She went to school till the following [Malayalam month of] Meenom," he said, glancing at his wife sitting across him on another bed at their son Mathew's house at Pampady near here.
 
Today, having scored a century, Mr. Thomas is in the race for a world record, dutifully supported by Sosamma, as he has always been for the past 86 years. Mr. Thomas (100 years) and Ms. Sosamma (99 years and six months) have completed 86 years and four months together, a lot more years than the official chroniclers have recorded for longest married couples.
 
The two competitors they have in the race are in the United States, the official one being a couple married for 81 years and another one, still in the race, who have been married for 82 years (The Hindu, June 24).
 
As per the records of the St. Simon's Jacobite Syrian Church, the marriage was solemnised on February 17, 1918 (Medom 18, 1093 of the Malayalam era). It was on that day that Philipose Thomas, son of Peelikunju and Elizuba of Kadavumbhagom House, who belonged to the St. John's Church, Pamapdy wed Sosamma Thomas, daughter of Korah Chacko and Aleyamma of Kalimkoottil House, members of the St. Simon's Church, Velloor.
 
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A new Sappho poem
Martin West
21 June 2005

Since classical times, Sappho has been a source of fascination and romantic construction. The ancients, who had nine books of her poems at their disposal, were unstinting in their admiration. Some called her a tenth Muse. Strabo, writing in the time of Augustus, calls her a wonder, “for in this whole span of recorded time we know of no woman to challenge her as a poet even in the slightest degree”. In modern times, with only fragments of her poetry remaining, she has remained one of the most famous and evocative names from antiquity, a figure viewed by some with narrowed, by others with widened eyes; a socio-historical enigma, a litt√©rateurs’ Lorelei, a feminist icon, a scholars’ maypole.
 
It is difficult to judge her for ourselves when so little of her work remains.
 
Here is the poem in my own restoration and translation. The words in square brackets are supplied by conjecture.
 
"[You for] the fragrant-blossomed Muses’ lovely gifts
[be zealous,] girls, [and the] clear melodious lyre:
 
 
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The Word of the Day for is:


Pyrrhic \PEER-ik\ adjective
: achieved at excessive cost; also : costly to the point of negating or
outweighing expected benefits
Example sentence:
Gretchen's unexpected win over the tournament's top player proved a Pyrrhic
victory; in the effort, she reinjured her shoulder.
Did you know?
In 306 B.C., at the age of twelve, a youth named Pyrrhus took the throne of
Epirus, a country in northwestern Greece. Pyrrhus grew to be an aggressive
and quarrelsome king, given to warring with his neighbors. In 280 B.C., he
brought 25,000 men (and a number of elephants) to southern Italy and
defeated the Romans, but only after losing many of his soldiers. A year
later, he again suffered heavy casualties at Roman hands in a battle at
Ausculum. According to Plutarch, when he was congratulated on those
victories Pyrrhus replied, "Another such victory over the Romans and we are
undone." The bloody battles of Pyrrhus didn't find their way into English in
the phrase "Pyrrhic victory" until the 1800s, but once it was established it
quickly found occupation as an adjective even independent of the phrase, in
such constructions as "the vindication was Pyrrhic" and "a Pyrrhic gesture."

cocooning \kuh-KOON-ing\ noun
: the practice of spending leisure time at home in preference to going out

Example sentence:
"The current trend toward cocooning has been very good for our business,"
noted the owner of Marvin's Hot Tubs at a recent home show.

Did you know?
It's safe to begin our history of "cocooning" with "cocoon," the case
protecting an insect pupa. We borrowed that noun from French over 300 years
ago; the French "cocon" in turn comes from an Occitan word meaning "shell."
The verb "cocoon," meaning "to wrap or envelop as if in a cocoon," entered
English in 1881 when Mark Twain wrote, "We ... cocooned ourselves in the
proper red blankets." Metaphorical extensions of the verb, to suggest either
the condition of being entrapped ("cocooned in restrictions") or of being in
a safe and protected place ("cocooned against outside forces"), began to
appear in the 20th century. The latter connotation led to "cocooning," a
1980s coinage generally attributed to marketing consultant and trend-spotter
Faith Popcorn.

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