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Jul 24, 2022
This week’s theme
Words illustrated with AI

This week’s words
speechify
agrostology
smilet
tergiversation
meta

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Words derived after names
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AWADmail Issue 1047

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Tidbits about Words and Language

Sponsor’s Message: “We loved The Academy* so much we decided to open one of our own.” Same cast of characters, of course: Socrates, Cicero, Montaigne, Spinoza, Shakespeare, et al. The perfect antidote to the go-to-university-or-you’re-a-loser mentality, as well as a lifetime membership in a tight-knit community of like-minded recalcitrants and kings -- the Old’s Cool Academy is a Great Books and traditional skills-based alternative for anyone ready to bite the ass off a bear, in a quarter of the time, and at a tenth of the cost of college. *West Point. Learn more.



From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the Net

Hip, Woke, Cool: It’s All Fodder For the Oxford Dictionary of African American English
The New York Times
Permalink

Can Songs Save an Endangered Language?
National Geographic
Permalink



From: Nicole Rawley (rawleynicole gmail.com)
Subject: Speechify | DALL·E

Best issue ever.

EVER!!!

Tickled to death about the image. Granted my hypersensitivity during migraine attacks may be at play; nonetheless, the mirth you brought trumps the day.

Thank you 🤲

Nicole Rawley, Simpsonville, South Carolina



From: Eileen Leisten (eleisten gmail.com)
Subject: Aging women

Too bad you did not consult an aging woman about her aging vanity. As I approach the century in years, I am thrilled to admit my years. Asking Mona Lisa for new poses was the impossible task and so much more interesting.

Eileen Leisten, Hollywood, Florida



From: John D. Laskowski (john.laskowski mothman.org)
Subject: Agrostology

Bamboo, the world’s largest grass, comprising over 600 species, can grow to 100 feet high and 1 foot in diameter ! If you were at the top you would see it grow at a rate of 4 feet per day, that’s 2 inches per hour! The Bamboo Church I visited in the Philippines was the first Catholic church organ constructed with bamboo pipes.

John D. Laskowski, Carsonville, Pennsylvania



From: Donald Ross (anaortic gmail.com)
Subject: Mandela

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
It is never my custom to use words lightly. If twenty-seven years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die. -Nelson Mandela, activist, South African president, Nobel laureate (18 Jul 1918-2013)

Your quote about Mandela’s reverence for the value of words reminded me of a long-standing lament I have had for the absence of an English word which embodies the meaning of the Yiddish “mensch”. I learnt about that word after a Jewish patient of mine inaccurately called me a mensch. Since few famous individuals have been more deserving of being called a mensch than Nelson Mandela, I thought it would be appropriate for English to coin mandela and since a long-abandoned South African phrase for such a person was “a real white man”, it would be a singular irony to replace it with mandela.

Don Ross, Sydney, Australia



From: James Eng (jameseng hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tergiversation

I needed this word last week so I could yell it when watching yesterday’s January 6th hearings. I guess I’ll file it away for the next round. Neat word, though. Much more interesting than the simple-minded ones used by the former carrot-in-charge.

James Eng, Cypress, Texas



From: Alison Coad (alisoncoad gmail.com)
Subject: Meta

My very favourite “meta” illustration comes from the great Sicilian author Andrea Camilleri, whose long-running police series featuring Chief Inspector Salvo Montalbano came to its end with the 28th book, Riccardino, which was published after Camilleri’s death. In it, Camilleri himself -- introduced as The Author -- gets into lots of arguments with his creation, Montalbano, about how best to solve the case. In addition, in book #15, The Dance of the Seagull (published 2009 in Italy, 2013 in English translation), Montalbano finds himself being portrayed by an actor in a television series being made -- when, in fact, there is a terrific television series from Italy called Detective Montalbano, which almost always uses plots from the books. Montalbano is peeved, as the actor looks nothing like him. Pretty meta, no?

Alison Coad, Montreal, Canada



Email of the Week -- Brought to you by the Old’s Cool Academy -- Viriliter Age. Learn more.

From: Karol Silverstein (karolinas aol.com)
Subject: Meta

I was presenting on disability tropes for a children’s book writers and illustrators conference last summer and googled “ableism” for a succinct definition. The first one I found was “discrimination in favor of able-bodied people” -- which basically ERASED disabled people from the definition. It was so meta, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry!

Karol Silverstein, she/her/disabled, West Hollywood, California



From: RJ Moore (urgemore gmail.com)
Subject: Meta

This Is the Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself” by David Moser

RJ Moore, Portland, Oregon



From: Jeff Snider (jeff snider.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--meta

“Meta” is used in sports (including e-sports) to denote a state-of-the-art play style or technique. I first noted this in Rocket League videos my son would watch, and quickly found it cropping up in online technical discussions of physical sports. Some sources claim this originated as an initialism for Most Effective Technique Available.

Jeff Snider, Falls Church, Virginia



From: Rob Hardy (robhardy3 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--meta

The best source for learning about “meta” and self-reference is the delightful book about mathematics, logic, and thought, Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter. The most puzzling meta sentence within it is the shortest: “This sentence is false.” Well, is it or isn’t it?

Rob Hardy, Dayton, Ohio



From: Sheila Rudolph-Correia (srudolphc yahoo.com)
Subject: Meta

There is of course this classic from XKCD by Randall Monroe.

Sheila Rudolph-Correia, Winchester, Massachusetts



From: Joe Moffa (joemoffa gmail.com)
Subject: Meta

While in San Diego, I went into Trader Joe’s and bought a shopping bag with their logo. When the clerk at the checkout saw that it was my only purchase, he blurted out, “Oh my god! That is soooo meta!”

Joe Moffa, Ligonier, Pennsylvania



From: Russell Lott (russellwlott comcast.net)
Subject: Meta

I remember as a young boy, sitting in the barbershop chair with a wall of mirrors both in front of me and behind me. Seeing myself seeing myself going back as far as I see was a mind-expanding experience, my first concrete example of infinity. It occurs to me today that it is a wonderful example of meta. As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. so famously said “A man’s mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.”

Russell Lott, Hattiesburg, Mississippi



From: Peter Jennings (peterj benlo.com)
Subject: DALL·E art

Here’s my take on this week’s words:

Speechify: A excited ape wearing a baseball cap making a speech at a podium in a blue room as an Dali painting
Speechify
Agrostology: A scholar examining grass with a magnifying glass rendered as a cave drawing
Agrostology
Smilet: A cute cartoon image of a politician with orange hair holding up his right hand which is being struck by lightning
Smilet
Tergiversation: A cute cartoon image of a politician with orange hair holding up his right hand which is being struck by lightning
Tergiversation
Meta: Greek god Narcissus looking at his own reflection in pool of water in the style of a cave painting
Meta


Peter Jennings, Stony Lake, Canada



From: Karen Marcroft (karen_marcroft yahoo.com)
Subject: Imagen

I’m not with Google, but your reference to Imagen reminded me that when I worked for Teknowledge back in the 1980s, we had a very early laser printer made by a company called Imagen. It’s not super easy to find info about it by googling these days, but I did find a reference on this page which led me to find this interview with the founder of the Imagen company. I just thought it would be good to let you know that the first use of this word ought not to be credited to Google.

Re: Teknowledge, there are other companies that go by that name now that the company I worked for no longer exists, but it is possible to find mentions of the company I’m referring to online in places such as here and here.

Karen Marcroft, Tell City, Indiana



The Mouth That Roared
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Speechify and DALL·E/Dali

Whenever Trump sensed that his popularity with his base was flagging, he would hold his college homecoming-like Rah! Rah! rallies, where his lies and pomposity would be on full display... speechifying to the max. His now infamous Jan 6 rallying cry at the Ellipse, where he’d incited his mob of insurrectionists to storm the Capitol, exemplified speechifying for the ages... the Dark Ages.

DALL·E Meets Dali
Intrigued by DALL·E, a play on surrealist icon Salvador Dali, I was moved to create this fanciful scenario featuring the impressively mustachioed Dali and copycat robot, DALL·E. Here, DALL·E suspects Salvador may be his papa, since they share a similarly outsized mustache and a gift for painting. Dada just happens to also be a short-lived European art movement embracing randomness and the nonsensical, concurrent with the surrealist movement. Curiously, Dali was booted out of the Surrealist’s camp, allegedly for his ties to Communism.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



Anagrams

   
This week’s theme: Misc. words illustrated with AI
1. Speechify
2. Agrostology
3. Smilet
4. Tergiversation
5. Meta
= 1. Pontificate
2. I love sweetgrass
3. Light smile, glimmer
4. Withdraw, desert the cause (too risky!)
5. Say “I” the most
     This week’s theme: Misc. words illustrated with AI

1. Speechify
2. Agrostology
3. Smilet
4. Tergiversation
5. Meta
= 1. With vapor, heck this is mighty tiresome
2. Study grasses
3. Emoticon, i.e., little smile
4. Weasel word
5. Tag, “after”
     This week’s theme: Misc. words illustrated with AI
1. Speechify
2. Agrostology
3. Smilet
4. Tergiversation
5. Meta
= 1. I.e., dull talk
2. Cows love it
3. He greets Ms Angie with short simper
4. Meet this two-faced GI
5. I say so re: my traits
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Limericks

Speechify

Just staying awake is a chore
When you speechify, sir, you’re a bore;
Want your message to sink in?
Take a lesson from Lincoln:
271 words and no more.
-Duncan Howarth, Maidstone, UK (duncanhowarth aol.com)

The infraction of any school rule
Received punishment curious and cruel.
Neither beatings nor lines,
Nor detentions or fines.
Head would speechify, silly old fool.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

To speechify I have been prone.
I orate, I ramble, I drone.
You might think me a freak.
I talk a blue streak.
Even more so when I am alone.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Says he, “While I’m still in my prime,
I date sev’ral girls at a time.
Each is a sweetie pie,
who, when I speechify,
thinks what I say is sublime.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

He speechifies some when he preaches;
He’s tedious, too, when he teaches.
“Please lighten your touch
And don’t talk so much!”
His whole congregation beseeches.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

There once was a municipal chief,
who’d go on and on, ne’er be brief.
He speechified to a fault,
till a town hall assault
by bored voters who sought some relief.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“It’s not athletes the world ought to deify,
But great actors,” I’m oft heard to speechify.
“And the next Fanny Brice
Is my daughter!” “That’s nice;
It’s twelve dollars, please,” answers the pizza guy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Agrostology

Agrostology’s always appealed,
And at last it can now be revealed.
I love whiling away
Many hours each day
Just watching grass grow in some field.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com

When they ask him about agrostology,
he feels he must make an apology.
He answers, “Alas,
it’s the study of grass.
Please excuse the abstruse terminology.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

If grass in the spring makes you sneeze,
And allergies cause you to wheeze,
I’m telling you, buddy,
To change what you study --
Forget agrostology please!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

For my lawn I shall make no apology,
For it helps to advance agrostology.
Every possible weed
A grad student might need
For their thesis is there. It’s true! Honestly!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Smilet

Hey Mona, let’s start this anew,
But first I just hate telling you
That you look a disgrace.
Wipe that grin off your face.
A plain little smilet will do.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

I’ll never forget my last flight.
It gave everybody a fright
when out came the pilot.
Said he, with a smilet,
“Stay seated, and buckle up tight!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

At last his dυmb joke had sunk in.
Her smilet grew into a grin.
She said, “Now I see!”
And giggled, “Teehee!”
Her heart with his humor he’d win.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

My friend had a grandchild named Violet
Who has such a wonderful smilet.
She said, “I’ll show you
Some pics, just a few.”
So many, it’s taking a while yet.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

At the ball, she was masked and wore violet.
As he watched her, he sighed with a smilet,
“The Bard’s a buffoon,
For he wrote this too soon!
If thou hadst a cell phone, dear, I’d dial it!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Tergiversation

He’s the master of tergiversation,
He bamboozled the world and the nation.
He don’t need to be named,
He’s already been shamed.
We reject him! (For self-preservation.)
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Says her dad, “I’ve observed your new beau.
The lad really ought to forego
the tergiversation
in his conversation.
I find it quite malapropos!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

George’s father was angry to see
The remains of his large cherry tree.
But the head of our nation
(No tergiversation)
Said Dad, “I confess, it was me.”
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

This pol has a bad reputation;
He’s known for his tergiversation.
Misleading, malicious,
This fellow’s ambitious --
He sees himself leading our nation.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

We’ll never forgive him. This nation
Can’t get over his tergiversation.
His party’s been cursed,
Why, he’s really reversed
The Republicans’ basic foundation.
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

He’s the master of tergiversation
As his “Big Lie” he foists on the nation.
When will people get wise
To all Donald’s great lies
That will lead this land to devastation.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Where we used to receive information,
Today it’s all tergiversation.
Uncle Walter, come back!
Every anchor’s a hack!
On both sides, they fan polarization!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Meta

She looks in her mirror. Says she,
“My right’s where my left ought to be.
But since it’s my meta,
I simply won’t let a
problem like that bother me!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A play about staging a play --
Now that’s really meta, I’d say.
I’ve seen Kiss Me Kate,
And I think it’s great;
The Shrew I now view a new way.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Is it meta if one’s narcissistic?
Or would that be just too darn simplistic?
Its meaning, you see,
Is so complex to me
The use of it drives me ballistic!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Against pirates I have a vendetta;
I confront them in ways that are meta,”
Said the gen’ral. “I sing
Of my talents, and zing!
They’re defeated! I love operetta.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



Puns

“I’ll get ‘uge cheers for this speechify I lie enough,” thought Donald.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“There’s an exact science to burning ugly old witches at the stake,” said the master of h-agrostology.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Mona,” said Leonardo in exasperation, “I’m trying to create a masterpiece here. If you don’t get rid of that smilet’ll be ruined.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I never meta man I didn’t like” is a famous Will Rogers quote.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I meta girl I’m crazy about at the masked ball,” said Romeo. “I wonder how it will work out?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



Not So Loose Bannon
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Not So Loose Bannon

Steve Bannon, Trump’s Chief Strategist, was convicted on both counts of contempt of Congress. He failed to honor the Jan 6 Committee’s subpoena or provide requested documents. On his Jan 5 podcast, he made this ominous warning of what would transpire at the Capitol: “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.” Days prior to the insurrection he and Trump vowed to “kill the Biden presidency”.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the human heart can hold. -Zelda Fitzgerald, novelist (24 Jul 1900-1948)

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