1. Which has antiquity on its side - a proverb or a saying?
2. Which is kinder - humor or wit?
3. Is computer lingo - jargon or slang?
4. Which has historical value - a legend or a fable?
5. Is a soap opera - a serial or a series?
6. Which is the more innocent - - sarcasm or irony?
ANSWERS 1. A proverb. This illustration of a general truth is condensed for practical purposes, as in "Haste makes waste." A proverb is used for a long time by many people. A saying is a current remark repeated often, as in "Live and let live" or "Boys will be boys." Most clichs are sayings.
2. Humor causes amusement or laughter and is kinder. Something humorous means the warm-hearted, good-natured treatment of life's ironies. Wit is generally the clever or surprising delivery of an observation on life. It is a more intellectual affair, and its quickness adds to its effectiveness. Often it's amusing, but wit can also be sharp and serious. Humor is not.
3. Jargon. Slang applies to words and phrases that are not standard English and are often used to show novelty or informality. Jargon is the mode of speech or regular language among a group of specialists in a field, as in legal or scientific jargon.
4. A legend suggests a traditional story, historical or not, such as the stories of King Arthur. A fable is completely fictitious and designed to teach a moral lesson, like the famous ones by Aesop.
5. A soap opera is a serial, or a set of successive episodes that together make up a whole. In a serial, a story is published one part at a time. A series is a set of individual parts, each complete in itself but with a same purpose, as in a lecture series.
6. Irony is more innocent. Sarcasm expresses scorn or derision, while irony merely shows the contradiction between literal and intended meaning at a playful, more elevated level. For example, 'Lovely weather - for ducks!'
SOURCES: 'Room's Dictionary of Distinguishables,' by Adrian Room; Concise Oxford Dictionary; Cassell's Modern Guide to Synonyms and Related Words; Webster's Dictionary; World Book Dictionary.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society