New American Spelling Of English Words by Noah Webster: 1758 October 16th

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National Dictionary Day is held on October 16th in honor of Noah Webster’s (1758-1843) birthday.  Webster was a spelling reformer that believed that English spelling rules were unnecessarily complex.  One wonders whether he really made things simpler, or rather just made them different.  He spent 27 years compiling 70,000 words for his dictionary.  In his publication, he introduced new, Americanized spellings that reflected his belief that the U.S. should have its own individual literature.  Observe this National Dictionary Day with some of these ideas.

He completed his dictionary during his year abroad in Paris, France, at the University of Cambridge.  Of his seventy thousand words, twelve thousand had never appeared in a published dictionary before.  It seems that he did not come to his senses even with the time in France.

Noah is responsible for changing the spelling of British words into what we know as American words.  Examples include replacing “colour” with “color,” substituting “wagon” for “waggon” and printing “center” instead of “centre.”  Webster also added American words such as “skunk” and “squash” that did not appear in British dictionaries.

  1. During his first career as a schoolteacher at the time of the American Revolution, Webster was concerned that most of his students’ textbooks came from England.  It could be argued that he should not have been surprised given the scholarly connection to England and its language.  So in 1783 he published his own American text, A Grammatical Institute of the English Language. The “Blue-Backed Speller,” as it was popularly known, went on to sell nearly 100 million copies over the next century.
  2. Webster subscribed to the biblical account of the origin of language, believing that all languages derived from Chaldee, an Aramaic dialect.  He had a desire to get to the source words which the English had gathered from other countries.
  3. Though he fought for a strong federal government, Webster opposed plans to include a Bill of Rights in the Constitution. “Liberty is never secured with such paper declarations,” he wrote, “nor lost for want of them.”
  4. Even though he himself borrowed shamelessly from Thomas Dilworth’s New Guide to the English Tongue (1740) and Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1755), Webster fought vigorously to protect his own work from plagiarists. His efforts led to the creation of the first federal copyright laws in 1790.
  5. Webster’s Compendious Dictionary of the English Language (1806), a forerunner of An American Dictionary, sparked a “war of the dictionaries” with rival lexicographer Joseph Worcester. But Worcester’s Comprehensive Pronouncing and Explanatory English Dictionary didn’t stand a chance. Webster’s work, with 5,000 words not included in British dictionaries and with definitions based on the usage of American writers, soon became the recognized authority.
  6. In 1810, he published a booklet on global warming titled “Are Our Winters Getting Warmer?”
  7. Although Webster is credited for introducing such distinctive American spellings as color, humor, and center (for British colour, humour, and centre), many of his innovative spellings (including masheen for machine and yung for young) failed to catch on.
  8. In 1833 he published his own edition of the Bible, updating the vocabulary of the King James Version and cleansing it of any words that he thought might be considered “offensive, especially for females.”  The guy just did not know when to stop.  It seems that he felt the “offensive” parts of the Bible were acceptable for male readers.  He elaborate of why.

“He Was Preparing Us For Life”: John Wooden (1910 October 14th)

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Born Oct. 14, 1910, near Martinsville, Ind., on a farm that didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing, Wooden’s life revolved around sports from the time his father built a baseball diamond among his wheat, corn and alfalfa. Baseball was his favorite sport, but there was also a basketball hoop nailed in a hayloft. Wooden played there countless hours with his brother, Maurice, using any kind of ball they could find.

Wooden guided the Bruins to seven consecutive titles from 1967 through 1973 and a record 88-game winning streak in the early 1970s. From the time of his first title following the 1963-64 season through the 10th in 1974-75, Wooden’s Bruins were 330-19, including four 30-0 seasons.

WIT AND WISDOM OF WOODEN

“Be quick, but don’t hurry.”

“Winning takes talent; to repeat takes character.”

. “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”

. “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

. “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

. “Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”

. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

. “Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.”

. “Happiness begins where selfishness ends.”

. “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

. “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

. “What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player.”

. “Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.”

. “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.”

Wooden was a dignified, scholarly man who spoke with the precise language of the English teacher he once was. He always carried a piece of paper with a message from his father that read:

“Be true to yourself. Make each day a masterpiece. Help others. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible. Make friendship a fine art. Build a shelter against a rainy day. Pray for guidance, count and give thanks for your blessings every day.”

A FINAL WORD FROM A STUDENT

Abdul-Jabbar recalled that there “was no ranting and raving, no histrionics or theatrics.” He continued: “To lead the way Coach Wooden led takes a tremendous amount of faith. He was almost mystical in his approach, yet that approach only strengthened our confidence. Coach Wooden enjoyed winning, but he did not put winning above everything. He was more concerned that we became successful as human beings, that we earned our degrees, that we learned to make the right choices as adults and as parents.

“In essence,” Abdul-Jabbar concluded, “he was preparing us for life.”

No Kentucky Colonel: Harland Sanders (1890 September 9th)

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Colonel Harland Sanders was born on September 9, 1890, in Henryville, Indiana. At the age of 40, Sanders was running a popular Kentucky service station that also served food—so popular, in fact, that the governor of Kentucky designated him a Kentucky colonel. Eventually, Sanders focused on franchising his fried chicken business around the country, collecting a payment for each chicken sold.

KFC has been eager to celebrate kitschy parts of the Colonel’s history, while ignoring more complex attributes that made him both successful and dangerous to the brand while alive.

  1. For most of his life, he was a terrible businessman

Sanders had an extremely varied résumé before finding success in the fried-chicken business in his 60s. As a young man, he toiled as a farmhand and streetcar conductor before working for railroad companies across the South. Aspiring to be the next Clarence Darrow, Sanders studied law by correspondence and practiced in justice-of-the-peace courts in Arkansas until a courtroom brawl with a client derailed his legal career. He operated a steamboat ferry that crossed the Ohio River between Kentucky and Indiana, and he sold life insurance and automobile tires. During his time in Corbin, Sanders even delivered babies. “There was nobody else to do it,” Sanders recounted in his autobiography. “The husbands couldn’t afford a doctor when their wives were pregnant.”

  1. He once shot someone for his brand.

What Sanders lacked in business skills, he more than made up for in passion. When Sanders painted a large sign pointing potential customers from the highway toward his gas station in Corbin, Ky. (it would eventually expand into Sander’s first cafe), he enraged the owner of a competing gas station, Matt Stewart. Stewart painted over Sanders’ sign, leading to Sanders threatening to “blow [his] goddamn head off” and repainting the sign himself.  When Sanders discovered Stewart once again painting over the sign, he and two Shell officials ran to catch him red handed, heavily armed. In the resulting gun fight, the Shell manager was killed and Sanders shot Stewart in the shoulder.

  1. He cheated on his wife (a lot). 

While KFC loves certain quirky details about Sanders personal life, one of the facts KFC chooses not to highlight is his relationship with women, especially his two wives. Sanders married his first wife, Josephine, at the young age of 19. According to Colonel Sanders and the American Dream, his second wife’s nephew said Josephine wasn’t interested in a sexual relationship after giving birth to three children. So, Sanders “found what he needed to find in other places.”

  1. He’s not a military colonel.

If you’re not from Kentucky, you may have assumed that Sanders served as a military leader at some point in his long life. In fact, he was a Kentucky colonel, a title of honor awarded by the state of Kentucky. Sanders became a colonel in 1935 as the founder and owner of the gas station-adjacent restaurant Sanders Cafe, but misplaced his certificate, receiving his second colonelship in 1949.

In the 1950s, Sanders began marketing himself as a southern gentleman and Kentucky colonel, dying his beard white, crafting a string tie and donning his iconic white suit. As he franchised his concept starting in the ’50s, selling the recipe for his Kentucky fried chicken to restaurants across the U.S., this identity as a Kentucky colonel linked Sanders to a southern ideal that lent the Indiana-born man an air of legitimacy.

  1. He only made $2 million selling KFC.

After KFC went from a single cafe to a franchised concept, Sanders sold the business in 1964, feeling out of his league at the age of 75 as the chain rapidly grew. The $2 million, plus an ongoing salary to remain the face of the brand wasn’t a terrible deal. However, after the company’s profitable IPO, in which shareholders made millions, Sanders began to feel as though he got the short end of the stick.

At the company’s first franchisee convention after the IPO, Sanders took the stage and spent 40 minutes railing against management. He claimed executives were thinking only about the short-term and ruining his reputation. While he failed to win over the franchisees and went on to continue his duties as a spokesperson, it seems a part of him remained convinced he had been tricked into giving up his business.

  1. He tried to sue KFC for $122 million.

After KFC was sold to Heublein in 1971, Sanders’ appetite for disruption grew. When the chain denied him the right to open an antebellum-themed restaurant selling Original Recipe chicken, Sanders sued the company for $122 million. He eventually settled out of court for $1 million and a promise that the Colonel would stop embarrassing the company. Sanders did not keep up his end of the bargain.

  1. According to him, KFC doesn’t use the famous secret original recipe of 11 herbs and spices.

While very few people in the world know exactly what is in Colonel Sanders’ mix of 11 secret herbs and spices, we do know that the Colonel said many times in his life that KFC stopped using his recipe.  Whether or not the Colonel’s original recipe is in use today, it is clear that Sanders was dismissive of KFC’s menu in his final years. In 1970, the New Yorker quoted him saying the company’s new gravy recipe “ain’t fit for my dogs.” While the chain turned business around and reportedly improved food quality in the ’80s under new leadership, Sanders’ wasn’t around to see it. He died on Dec. 16, 1980, at the age of 90 .

  1. Sanders swore (darn it!).

The colonel may have appeared the epitome of a Southern gentleman, but his language was notoriously salty, particularly when he wasn’t pleased with the quality of food served up by franchisees. “The Colonel is famous among KFC people for the force and variety of his swearing,” reported a 1970 New Yorker profile. “I used to cuss the prettiest you ever heard,” Sanders admitted. “I did my cussin’ before women or anybody else, but somehow nobody ever took any offense.”