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Word for the Wise April 11, 2007 Broadcast Topic: Licorice

We don't know why this date was selected—perhaps because of the resemblance of the number 11 to two sticks of licorice—but today is National Licorice Day. (来源:英语杂志 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

We begin our celebration of that treat enjoyed the world over with a look at its spelling. Sometimes the word begins with the letters L-I-C and sometimes it begins L-I-Q-U-, but however you spell it, licorice (and its variants, American, Chinook, Indian, Spanish, and wild licorice) are the only words in the English language to end with the letters O-R-I-C-E.

As for its pronunciation, we advise caution: the three syllable /li-kuh-rish/ raises no eyebrows, but /lik-reesh/ and /lik-ris/ are sometimes considered improper.

So where does licorice come from? The plant native to the Mediterranean and found throughout Europe, the Middle East, and western Asia—and whose long lateral roots are harvested, dried, and boiled before the extract is beaten out—is used medicinally, as a food flavoring, and as candy.

Linguistically speaking, licorice has roots in two Greek words meaning "sweet" plus "root." The Greek glykys, meaning "sweet," has flavored more than a half dozen other English words ranging from dulcet to glucose; the rhiza root appears in the etymological history of many more various root-related words.

 
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