The Year of Words: Day 359 - Darth Vader bans the hyphen.


I hope, like me. you will deliciate in today's offerings for the Year of Words challenge. If this had been added last year or in the early months of this year, I would have run it on the 4th May - it's that good.

Emperor Palpatine and Lord (Darth) Vader

Today's new word is timely as it's just made it into the OED's list of new entries for December 2021.

He we have a word with two very different senses.

In a wonderful piece of irony, the dark side has been added with all the meanings of the Star Wars Universe. Shadowy, evil and sinister with the requirement that this is not merely a one off effect but forming a distinct side or force. A wry smile did cross my lips when I remembered leaving the ABC cinema in Swindon having just seen Star Wars on its original release. It was the first film I had seen that touched both the power of imagination and questions of the profound.

Luke Skywalker would-be Jedi Knight

Had you told me that forty-two years later the Oxford English dictionary no less would add both Jedi Knight and the dark side to their tome I wouldn't have believed it.

However, my little padwan (an apprentice or student to a master added OED 2020) beware the power of the hyphen.

Dark side is different to the dark side or dark-side.

Only the dark side refers to the use of the force and omnipresent evil.

The other meanings (hyphenated or without the definite article) refers to a musical style, specifically a German synth heavy dance genre with a bpm of over 120 and heavy use of electronic back beats

I don't know about you, but much as I like the film, the Emperor and Darth Vader doling out some dark-side drum and base could have improved The Empire Strikes Back in parts.

For those, like me, who always find the post Christmas run into the New Year rather a downhill slope here's a trick passed on to me by a divinity scholar at Oxford.

Don't fall for the commercial Christmas day then that's it version of Christmas which is all build up and no enjoyment.

Instead, revert to the 12 days of a Christmas season. In that model we're only in day 3 of twelve, Stand-by for French hens at any moment.

It's a useful mental repositioning as it does take us through the post Christmas day lull and well into the New Year. Although it sounds like a mental slight of hand, it did make a difference this year.


If that doesn't help you, then I've just time to circle back with something that will hopefully activate a chuckle muscle or two. For those who find these in-between days tricky, here's a little sample of Eddie Izzard to mark the dark side's entry into the Oxford English Dictionary.

You'll still need a tray !

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