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Nov 6, 2022
This week’s theme
Abbreviations, acronyms, and blends

This week’s words
retcon
flak
hazmat
larp
blad

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Postpositives
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AWADmail Issue 1062

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

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

Can AI Write Recipes Better Than Humans? We Put It to the Ultimate Test.
The New York Times
Permalink

A Short History of Language in Ukraine
The Spectator
Permalink

The Weird Way Language Affects Our Sense of Time and Space
BBC
Permalink



From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Abbreviations, acronyms, and blends

What abbreviations, acronyms, and blends have you coined or come across, I asked this week. Here’s a selection from the responses that came in.

Newlybeds: Those who have shacked up recently without the formality of marriage.
-Tony Walsh, Nantucket, Massachusetts (ackartist yahoo.com)

My mother combined the words extremely + exceedingly to form the blended word extreedingly when she was trying to emphasize a very large amount of something. It caught on in our family, and I still use it.
-Kathryn Garr, Las Cruces, New Mexico (garrgoyle63 gmail.com)

Rike: Starts as a Run, ends as a hike.
-Ian R. McFadyen, San Jose, California (ian.mcfadyen wdc.com)

When our two children were young and occasionally wild, we would say, with exasperation, that they were running around like a couple of idiacs (idiοt plus maniac). Now it is their children who are following in their footsteps.
-Jonathan Rickert, Bainbridge Island, Washington (therickerts hotmail.com)

My Lutheran church encourages us to wear red on two Sundays: Reformation Sunday and Pentecost. I have one red shirt. I call it my Pentemation shirt.
-Melissa Yates, Perkasie, Pennsylvania (yatesreads gmail.com)

Eargasm: a state of ecstasy experienced through the ears. Mostly through music but known to occur when listening to birdsongs. Enlightening. Yeah, I did that.
-Daniel Driver, Jerome, Arizona (jerboadriver gmail.com)

My coinage is eyegraine. I have occasional optical migraines -- painless, transitory periods in which I experience a shimmering in my vision.
-John Ascenzi, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (antares1972 verizon.net)

A few weeks ago I invited current and past colleagues to join me in a sepabration at a nearby brewpub named Troubles End. We celebrated my separation after 25 years with our employer. Separation is the first step in a structured exit, followed by termination of employment.
-Nicholas Fiekowsky, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania (nickfie gmail.com)

Aviation has many abbreviations and acronyms. Example: A plane that nobody can talk to at all, either intentionally (yes, there are airplanes out here without a radio installed) or due to a mechanical breakdown. It’s labeled NORDO on a radar screen and as a verbal shorthand. That’s short for NO RaDiO and is far less of a problem now that cell phones are everywhere and available in a pinch. But in the days of yore, a NORDO aircraft in the air traffic control system was at best a pain and at worst an impending accident. There’s an entire set of rules we still have to memorize for NORDO situations.
-Jim Tang, Kula, Hawaii (mauijt aol.com)

The other day my husband scartled me. I blended scared and startled and scartled came out of my mouth, lol. It’s our new word : )
-Julie Pinnella, Torrance, California (jespinn530 aol.com)

Floetry: An evening of flute + poetry.
-Sandra Swain, Albany, Australia (torbaylaurelwood bigpond.com)

The police in England often use the term misper for a missing person. Rhymes with whisper.
-Barbara Cranford, Clinton, Maryland (barbsew yahoo.com)



From: Glenn Glazer (glenn.glazer gmail.com)
Subject: retcon

Perhaps the worst retcon of more recent vintage was George Lucas going back on Obi-Wan telling Luke that Darth Vader killed his father when -- spoiler alert -- Darth IS his father, that Obi-Wan was using some kind of metaphor. I still shake my head at this.

Glenn Glazer, Felton, California



Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy One Up! -- Stealing is the name of the game.

From: Mary Treder (mct919 hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--retcon

Retcon immediately brought me back to 1990 when I had a baby who appeared healthy but died suddenly about 24 hours after he was born. In the weeks immediately afterward, my mind was constantly replaying the experience as if I could replace the tragic ending with something else. It wouldn’t stop until I told myself, out loud, this is what happened (detail by detail) and you can’t change it. Finally, my mind was able to accept it.

Mary Treder, Grand Junction, Colorado



From: Marshall Wilensky (wilenskym gmail.com)
Subject: retcon

In Torchwood, the Doctor Who spin-off, the team had an amnesia drug called retcon that they used (frequently?) to wipe recent memories. Retcon wasn’t always 100% effective, could be reversed, and caused medical problems if a person received too many doses.

Marshall Wilensky, Waltham, Massachusetts



From: Timothy Bruggeman (timbru99 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--flak

My father, a WWII veteran, serving aboard a B-17 bomber plane of the 8th Air Force, 457th Bombardment Group, 751st Squadron, flew 26-1/2 missions over Germany. His last mission, on Nov 2, 1944, was cut short by fighter planes and flak.

He survived and served the rest of his WWII experience in a POW camp, Stalag Luft 1. He said it bore no resemblance to Hogan’s Heroes.

Timothy Bruggeman, Shawnee, Kansas



From: Mo Doyle (momcdo gmail.com)
Subject: retcon

Retconning also is a con, as well as continuity.

Around sixty years ago, a serial drama named Dallas killed off the character J.R. It was a season cliffhanger, and the summer’s question was: “Who shot J.R.?

The next year limped by without the villain and no murderer. Audiences didn’t like it as much. The following year opened during the murder scene and showed the murder and an entire year of the show had all been a dream!

It was even more blatantly nonsense than that of Sherlock’s resurrection. But, both worked. Audiences were happier, the creators continued making money.

Maureen Doyle, Boston, Massachusetts



From: Cesily King (cesily1110 aol.com)
Subject: flak

When I was growing up, we had a dog named Flak. My dad, who had been a tail gunner in a B-17 stationed in England (the same base as the Memphis Belle) in WWII, said that her black and brown coat reminded him of the smoke from the exploding flak. Despite that negative connection, he did like our dog.

Cesily King, Spartanburg, South Carolina



From: SarahRose Werner (swerner nbnet.nb.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--flak

“In 2015 Uzbekistan Airways started measuring how heavy flyers were for safety reasons. But predictably, the practice has got some airlines a lot of flak from their passengers.”
The Case for Weighing Passengers Before Flights: Fat Tax; The Economist (London, UK); May 3, 2019.

Some years ago I boarded a flight at Saint John’s airport, bound for Halifax. The plane was small and almost completely full. The weather was rough.

One of the pilots stepped out of the cabin to the front of the passenger area and requested that all female passengers move to the rear of the plane. He explained that because of the rough weather, we needed to put more weight at the rear.

You could have heard a pin drop as every woman on the plane stared at the pilot. If looks could kill ...

The pilot looked baffled for a moment -- and then flustered. “I mean, LESS weight at the rear. LESS weight!”

The women, including myself, then complied. The flight was awful, but we did reach Halifax safely.

SarahRose Werner, Saint John, Canada



From: Paul Blaney (pblaney ehc.edu)
Subject: larp

In the Oct 20 London Review of Books, John Lanchester suggested that Liz Truss’s strategy as Prime Minister was to larp Margaret Thatcher.

Paul H. Blaney, Abingdon, Virginia



From: Galit Hasan-Rokem (hasanrokem gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--blad

Blad may actually be from Scandinavian languages where blad means a newspaper or a brochure; in German Blatt.

Galit Hasan-Rokem, Jerusalem, Israel



From: Bruce Delahorne (bdelahorne yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--blad

As a graduate of Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, OK, I appreciate today’s quotation.

One odd bit of trivia is that both Rogers and Wiley Post, the pilot of the plane that crashed, killing them both, have airports named for them in Oklahoma City, OK, likely making it the only city with their airports named after people who died in plane crashes...

Bruce Delahorne, Evanston, Illinois



Back from the Dead
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: retcon and hazmat

In this scenario I’ve imagined Sherlock Holmes’ apparent rising-from-the-dead at the scene of the crime, thus legitimizing Conan Doyle’s resurrection of his famed sleuth. Holmes’ sidekick, Dr. Watson is bemused... perchance confused.

Olfactory Overload
A record three Sumatran corpse flowers bloomed at LA County’s Huntington Botanical Gardens in Aug 2018. Exuding odors likened to the smell of sweaty gym socks, foul fumes from a porta-potty, or a whiff of decomposing flesh, this trio of smelly blooms acquired the nicknames Stink, Stank, and Stunk.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



Anagrams

 
This week’s theme: Abbreviations, acronyms, and blends
1. Retcon
2. Flak
3. Hazmat
4. Larp
5. Blad
= 1. Tale when amended
2. Tank vs. aircraft blitz; BB shards
3. Mass menace
4. Role play
5. Book hint
     This week’s theme: Abbreviations, acronyms, and blends
1. Retcon
2. Flak
3. Hazmat
4. Larp
5. Blad
= 1. That new story
2. Stick, lambast
3. Bomb, benzin, snake venom, lead
4. Charade
5. Flier, slap hard
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)
 
 
On this week’s lead theme: Abbreviations, acronyms, and blends, i.e.
1. Retcon
2. Flak
3. Hazmat
4. Larp
5. Blad
= 1. On brink, make fresh claim
2. Battled chastisement
3. Banned biowaste hazard
4. Role play
5. Novel’s ad
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Limericks

Retcon

“The voters this year were all wet, Don,
But don’t cry, for we’ll cook up a retcon,”
Said the Prez to his son;
“We’ll just say that we won.”
And reality no more they dwelt on.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Flak

Colin Kaepernick got lots of flak.
His team even gave him the sack
For taking the knee.
He’d expressed he was free,
But the “Niners” would not take him back.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

When she heard what the critics had said,
she knew there’d be trouble ahead.
Quite taken aback
by this unforeseen flak,
she hopped on a trolley and fled.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

My friend, Jane, she would always complain.
“No, it’s not good enough!” was her refrain.
And then she met Jack,
Quite a master of flak,
And together they both are a pain.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Who cares about liberal flak?
For oil and gas we will frack,”
Say Repubs. “Wind and sun
Donate not dollar one,
But our fossil fuel money’s like crack.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Hazmat

I’ve a suit that protects from hazmat,
Radiation, gas, germs and all that.
When this garb I’m flaunting
No task seems too daunting --
I’ve even forced pills on my cat.
-Duncan Howarth, Maidstone, UK (duncanhowarth aol.com)

Don’t approach unless suitably clad,
When you enter the room of the lad.
Decomposing old socks -
And those things worn by jocks ...
Little Hazmat takes after his dad.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Says she, “We’ve an unwanted guest.
Who knows what might be in the nest
of a nasty old pack rat?
Perhaps it is hazmat.
We need to get rid of this pest!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A big hazmat team’s on the scene;
They’re needed to get the place clean.
They’ll have to take care!
God knows what’s in there,
For this is the room of a teen!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

My cooking skills aren’t acute.
Yes, this, I can never dispute.
So my husband gets thinner,
And comes down for dinner
All clad in his old hazmat suit.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Says Dow Chemical, “End regulation
For the sake of the world’s population!
For testing our hazmats
We use them as lab rats;
Cheap guinea pigs help stop inflation!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Larp

“Hey, there! Slowpoke! You need to look sharp,
Or you’re gonna be late for the larp.
Aphrodite -- that’s me --
And you’re Orpheus, see,
So step lively -- and pick up that harp.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

In costume he really looked sharp,
All ready to go off and larp.
“Oh, no, not again!”
His mother said then.
“Oy, it’s such meshugas!” she would carp.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I attend Comic Con every year,
It’s where people in costume appear.
They dress up so sharp,
To cosplay and larp.
I am never too old, that is clear.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

His playing was flat or else sharp,
And the Lord said, “Gabe, put down your harp.
For the world I’ve got news;
Put on clothes and some shoes
And head down. As a human you’ll larp.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Blad

Said he, when he first saw the blad,
“This promo’s not really too bad.”
But upon second look,
“It’s about the wrong book!”
he declared.”It appears I’ve been had!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

See that tale of the mouse and the cat?
I wrote it! Skiddly Diddly Skat!
But I published it, too
So there’s no blad for you --
Self-publishers can’t afford that!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

My daughter’s first book makes me kvell;
It’s one that I hope does sell well.
To read her new blad,
Her proud mom and dad
Are so happy that words cannot tell.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“If you’d help with promoting the blad,
My memoir will be bigly. Please, Vlad.”
“Da. Sεx sells, zis is true,
And you chose good preview:
Ven ze hοοkers I sent vere unclad.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



Puns

To build the largest French hat, be-retcon-struction began in Paris this year.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

For decades, Big Tobacco told us their products were good for us. It was the great ciga-retcon.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Af-flak!” said the duck on the insurance commercial.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I’m sorry you’re flak-cid, Donald, but the price is still $130,000,” said Stormy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Hazmat’s tendency towards sεxual harassment really done you any harm?” demanded Mr. Lauer’s attorney.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“What new, idiοtic thing hazmat Gaetz said now?” Everyday the public asks.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Och aye, I kinna bear how ye s-larp yer soup, Dougal,” said Mrs. Mackenzie.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I wanna integrate the Corny Collins Show and dance with Black kids!” said Tracy Turn-blad.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



Ship of Fool$
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Ship of Fool$ and Brazil Nuts

Last week, Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion. True to his off-center personality, on sealing the deal Musk entered the San Francisco Twitter headquarters carrying a sink. Now calling himself “Chief Twit”, he’s stated, “Twitter cannot obviously become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!” Hmm... and he’s contemplating reinstating Trump? What was that about avoiding a “hellscape”?

Brazil Nuts
Brazilians voted in their former two-term president (2003-2010) Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, defeating ultra-right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro is Brazil’s Trump... a misogynistic, anti-environment, pro-fossil-fuel, anti-science, anti-media, anti-LGBTQ, anti-truth racist... the list is endless. Predictably, not unlike election-denier Trump, he has contested Lula’s win as illegitimate.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I don’t think that combat has ever been written about truthfully; it has always been described in terms of bravery and cowardice. I won’t even accept these words as terms of human reference any more. And anyway, hell, they don’t even apply to what, in actual fact, modern warfare has become. -James Jones, novelist (6 Nov 1921-1977)

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