This Week in Words: Current Events Vocabulary for January 14–January 20, 2023

January 16, 2023
Stories about shouting dolphins, long-lost luggage, and truffle-hunting dogs all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
The family of Martin Luther King, Jr. confirmed a story that Dr. King paid the hospital bill when actor Julia Roberts was born 55 years ago. The Kings' youngest daughter, Bernice, corroborated a claim that has circulated online for years. She backed up details Roberts shared in an October TV interview, including the fact that the King children attended her parents' acting school and that knowing her family's financial difficulties, MLK himself covered the cost of her birth in 1967.
New research shows that underwater noise caused by humans makes it harder for dolphins to cooperate. Increases in volume from military activity, fossil fuel exploration, and shipping have made life louder for these gregarious mammals. Scientists have found that dolphins can "shout" to each other, but this style of communication makes it difficult for them to work together collaboratively. The Latin roots of cooperate are com, "together," and operari, "work."
After two weeks of brutal weather, California girded itself for more storms this week. Another deluge hit the state on January 15, bringing strong wind and torrential rain to already-saturated areas. The continuous rainfall raised the danger of floods and mudslides, and the region braced itself by issuing evacuation orders and road closures. The Old English source of gird means "put a belt around," with the sense of tightening up loose clothing in preparation for battle.
Most Newfoundland residents live within a few miles of the Atlantic coast, but after the destruction from tropical storm Fiona last fall, a growing number of them are moving inland. It's a major shift in a province whose identity is tied to fishing and seafaring. In Port aux Basques — a town devastated by the storm — many plan to move away from the ocean rather than rebuild homes and businesses there. Newfoundlanders who witnessed Fiona say they live in fear of the next big storm.
Four years after an airline lost a piece of luggage, it has been returned to its owner. In 2018, a woman traveled to Portland, Oregon from Chicago on a United Airlines flight. She arrived safely, but her suitcase did not. The airline spent months trying to locate her bag, eventually compensating the woman for the items inside it. This month, her lost luggage arrived in Houston on a plane from Honduras. Luggage is from lug and means "that which is lugged about."
As the Swiss Alps endure a historically warm winter, the region's numerous ski resorts are facing up to a future that's unlikely to include skiing. Switzerland is warming faster than average, and its glaciers have lost over five percent of their volume in the last year. In many Alpine vacation areas which specialize in winter sports, it's even too warm to make artificial snow. Resort owners, the ski industry, and Swiss citizens are all struggling to envision a future without snow.
A new A.I. chatbot, ChatGPT, is forcing many college instructors to make structural changes to the way they teach. The chatbot's ability to form coherent ideas, using self-generated concepts along with instantaneous research, means that some students are using it to produce instant essays. Professors are restructuring classes to make it harder to cheat with ChatGPT; many have begun assigning handwritten essays, group projects, and in-class assignments, among other changes.
A scandal rocked the small world of self-published romance novelists this month, when writer Susan Meachen was revealed as having faked her own death. Social media posts in 2020, purportedly written by her daughter, claimed Meachen had died. More than two years later, she reemerged with a lighthearted post that read, "Let the fun begin." Her fellow writers reacted with anger and shock. The Greek root of scandal means "stumbling block" or "trap laid for an enemy."
Kodai Senga, a Japanese baseball player who recently signed with the Mets, has a famous signature pitch called "the ghost fork." The team will get its first look at Senga's distinctive throw, a variation on the forkball, when spring training starts in February. The pitch is described as mimicking a fastball, confusing batters as it appears to be in one place before abruptly swerving downward. The unusual pitch has excited interest in Senga as he begins his first Major League season.
An Egyptian royal tomb was discovered in Luxor over the weekend. Archaeologists say the burial site was probably built between 1550 BCE and 1292 BCE, constructed for a princess whose body was entombed there during the 18th Dynasty of ancient Egypt. The tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamen was also found in Luxor. Tomb derives from the Greek tymbos, "burial mound."
There's a new wedding trend that's all the rage among animal lovers; more and more couples are incorporating pets into their vows and celebrations. It's increasingly common for animals to be included in the big day, with dogs walking down the aisle as part of a bridal party and pet adoptions being facilitated during receptions. Trend has a nautical origin meaning "bend in a certain direction."
It's hard out there for an Italian truffle-hunting dog. The aromatic fungus is considered a rare delicacy, and its astronomically high prices have made an already competitive industry turn ruthless in some cases. Antagonism between hunters, whose dogs sniff out the mushroom-like truffles in the forest, have led some to deliberately poison their rivals' canine helpers. The Latin source of truffle, tuber, means "edible root."

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