Prefectural

I have always been fascinated with words. I probably have lists dating back to when I was in high school. Sometimes I would color the word differently from the definition and from the word use. I probably wrote down the part of the speech and perhaps origin.

The words had to be alphabetized.

Now go back to 1976. No computers. At some point I used at funky manual typewriter, but mostly I wrote the words using colored pencils or pens. I didn’t mind re-writing the list when I added new words.

It gave me something to do, something I was interested in. It’s not like I added many of the words into my vocabularies. Sometimes it helped with my reading vocabulary, but never my written one. And spoken? Not a chance. Unless I hear how prefectural sounds, I would never attempt it in a conversation. As if the need for that word would ever arise.

I was reading Terrence Rafferty’s review, Inspector In the Labyrinth and the hero is described as a prefectural policeman.

It seems odd to me that Wikipedia used that same combination:

“Law enforcement in Japan is provided by the Prefectural Police under the oversight of the National Police Agency or NPA.”

Google gives me this definition:

A prefecture (from the Latin Praefectura) is an administrative jurisdiction or subdivision in any of various countries and within some international church structures, and in antiquity a Roman district governed by an appointed prefect.

The word prefect sounds familiar, but from where I’m not sure.

Some days, though not very many, I miss my dictionaries. I probably have at least a dozen of them. My favorite, of course, is the Oxford Dictionary. Concise and Dictionary do not belong together. My least favorite dictionaries in the world at the children’s and student versions. Many words are left out and the definitions are bland.

For old times, I moved nick knacks off the the book shelf, freeing Volume II of the fifth edition. It’s probably at least ten to fifteen years old. I wonder how many new words have been added in that time.

I open to the word presenium. No clue, but my inclination to go down that rabbit hole has me flip back a few pages. What was the word I was looking up? I’ve already forgotten as it’s too foreign and won’t stick. Prefunct? Prefecture. I land on predestine. Could go down this rabbit hole and explore my fate, my destiny, but it was a short hole, and I move on.

Prefect. noun. Old French prefect and from Latin praefectus, not that these words help me understand, though the repetition is starting to help prefect stick. 1. A chief officer, magistrate, or governor.

And then I realize I’m learning only part of the word. The Oxford dictionary says it has something to do with British students having rank over others, reminding me that I have read prefect before in a book or two. But Prefectural? Not to be confused with prefectorial. The hazards of looking at a book with lots of other words means a lot of rabbit holes.

okinawa-prefectural-museumThe internet has different kinds of rabbit holes. I searched for an image of prefectural and discovered a prefectural museum in Okinawa.

In yourdictionary.com, it will give me a sentence with the adjective:

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One Comment

  1. In a Scottish tv series they used “Prefect General” a lot and I think it was like the Police Commissioner or the Police Chief… that’s the first I’d heard that word used on any regular basis. I can’t remember the name of that series, but we have it somewhere here on DVD.

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