Word of the Day: Advice

Word of the Day

Today’s word of the day, thanks to the Foolish Dictionary by Gideon Wurdz, is advice. Advice is a noun which, according to www.dictionary.com, means 1. “an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action, conduct, etc.,” 2. “a communication, especially from a distance, containing information,” or 3. “an official notification, especially one pertaining to a business agreement.” Of course, most of us think of primarily the first meaning when we think of the word. We also should note that the noun is advice while the verb is advise; the former is pronounced with a voiceless alveolar fricative while the latter is pronounced with a voiced alveolar fricative, the difference between the /s/ in sin and the /s/ in zen.

According to www.etymonline.com, the noun advice entered the English language in the “late 13c., auys ‘opinion,’ from Old French avis ‘opinion, view, judgment, idea’ (13c.), from phrase ço m’est à vis ‘it seems to me,’ or from Vulgar Latin *mi est visum ‘in my view,’ ultimately from Latin visum, neuter past participle of videre ‘to see’ (from PIE root *weid- ‘to see’). Meaning ‘pinion offered as worthy to be followed, counsel’ is from late 14c.

“The unetymological -d- (on model of Latin words in ad-) was inserted occasionally in French by scribes 14c.-16c. and was made regular in English 15c. by Caxton. Substitution of -c- for -s- is 18c., to preserve the breath sound and to distinguish from advise. Early Modern English tended to alternate -ce and -se endings in otherwise confusable noun-verb pairs, using -se for the verb and -ce for the noun: devise/device, peace/appease, practice/practise, license/licence, prophecy/prophesy.”

But according to Dr. Gideon Wurdz, “Master of Pholly” and “Doctor of Loquacious Lunacy,” in his book The Foolish Dictionary: An Exhausting Work of Reference to Un-Certain English Words, Their Origin, Meaning, Legitimate and Illegitimate Use, Confused by a Few Pictures [Montreal News Co., 1904], advice means “A commodity peddled by your lawyer and given away by your mother-in-law, but impossible to dispose of yourself. Famous as the one thing which it is ‘More blessed to give than to receive.’” Wurdz then goes on to give a specialized definition: “Good Advice Something old men give young men when they can no longer give them a bad example.”

On this date in 1687, King James II of England (and James VII of Scotland), the last of the Stuart monarchs, issued the Declaration of Indulgence or Declaration for Liberty of Conscience for England. According to Wikipedia, the “Declaration granted broad religious freedom in England by suspending penal laws enforcing conformity to the Church of England and allowing persons to worship in their homes or chapels as they saw fit, and it ended the requirement of affirming religious oaths before gaining employment in government office.” This was a surprisingly modern declaration, giving as it were complete religious freedom to all the people of England.

But I imagine that there were counselors to the king who advised James II against making this declaration. Many of the Protestants, both within and outside the Church of England, feared that allowing such tolerance could lead to the teaching of Catholicism, not to mention other abominations such as Hindu and Islam. Up until that time, practicing one of those other religions could result in prison time. Later the same year, James reissued the declaration and included the Presbyterians, but many Anglican clergy refused to read the edict in church, which was the tradition and practice.

The Declaration of Indulgence was made null and void just about one year later, in 1688, after the Glorious Revolution ended James II reign. Perhaps James should have taken the advice of his countrymen and not made the Declaration, but because he did, we now have a model of what religious freedom looks like.

The image today has this lengthy explanation: “Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Uncredited artist. Extensive attempts (using Google) to locate images or discussion of images based on An Ideal Husband failed to turn up anything similar. – Complete Writings of Oscar Wilde [Vol I]: The Duchess of Padua – The Ideal Husband, The Nottingham Society, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago.” In the play, Lord Goring says, “I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.”

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