vaticination: The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines vaticination as a prediction or "the art of prophesying." In "Signs of the Times," Carlyle says that both individuals and nations should avoid vaticination. Happy and wise men deal with the present instead of what may lie in the future.

Some obvious questions

1. Why does Carlyle place such an apparently obscure word in the crucial first sentence of his essay?

2. Do the followng two sentences (the remainder of the opening paragraph) enable the reader to figure out what he might mean?

3. How much does Carlyle depend on his readers knowing Latin, since vates means prophet? In other words, how much does he expect those who can read Latin at a fairly basic level to figure out this uncommon word?

Last modified 2 April 2009