Monday, May 9, 2011

Word of the day: Lagniappe. Usability equivalent: Newspaper.

Lagniappe = a small gift, especially one given to a customer who makes a purchase. Something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure. A tip. An unexpected gift.

Lagniappe means…a little something extra. It’s like a baker’s dozen – they throw in the extra donut just because they can.

What a wonderful word. A little diamond of a word. A darling seashell on an endless beach that compels you to pick it up and ignore all the others.

It’s Creole, derived from the Spanish phrase la ├▒apa and funneled through Louisiana French to be pronounced as “LAN-yap.” But have you ever listened to the coastal Louisianans? Never mind Webster’s interpretation, according to Mark Twain it is pronounced lanny-yap.

Some examples from my own imagination:

“She asked for the hotline number and I gave her some Cheetos as lagniappe.”

“Going to the beach. Getting sunburned. Getting drunk. Time for spiritual lagniappe.”

The usability equivalent of lagniappe is newspaper. I would love to use it more, but I know I won’t. I would love to read the newspaper, but between television, online instant news reporting, and my twitter page – it just doesn’t happen.

Newspapers are treats for those glorious chunks of time where you can sit and hold written words in your hands. Newspapers are for long Sunday mornings. Newspapers are something to look forward to.

I look forward to you, lagniappe, and your rare moments of linguistic surprise.

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