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December 16, 2016  |  Friday words, 2016-12-16  |  2604 hit(s)

Things you might not know: December 16 is Beethoven's birthday. Things you probably do know: today is Friday, so it must be another day for words!

The new-to-me term this week is scrollytelling. This describes a way of presenting information on a webpage that lets users scroll around, dynamically revealing parts of the story. A good example is a page in the New York Times about climbing El Capitan in Yosemite National Park:

Update 19 Dec 2016 I found an even better example of scrollytelling, a viz that shows maritime traffic around San Francisco Bay:

The term scrollytelling is yet another portmanteau (a theme lately, it seems), which of course blends scrolling with storytelling. I got this term by reading a document at work, but once I went delving, I found that it's so well known that there's even a company named Scrollytelling that offers "a full-service storytelling agency and worldwide storytelling platform." Ok, then.

Bonus term: steppers. This is a different take on storytelling, where you, well, step through the story in discrete parts. A somewhat cranky blog post provides a compare-and-contrast between scrollytelling and steppers.

Unexpected etymology today came from Twitter, where someone noted the mistake "collard shirts" (instead of "collared").[1] This seemed like a minor error to me, because I thought that collard, in reference to the greens, was probably just a variant on collared—maybe the plant had some sort of collar? Something.

Not even! Collard is a "phonetic corruption" (OED) of colewort, a word constructed out of ancient roots (haha). We see the cole part of colewort in coleslaw and cauliflower, not to mention in kale and kohlrabi; further afield, it shows up as chou in French. (Fun fact: kale was basically the form of cole used in northern England and Scotland.) Wort is another ancient term, meaning plant or root, which also shows up in other names, like ragwort and mugwort. So collard greens are a kind of cabbage, but one that "does not heart," or form up into a head. I tell ya, the cabbage family is just full of surprises.

Like this? Read all the Friday words.

[1] Hey, it passes spellcheck.