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AWADmail Issue 10110

January 11, 2004

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages


From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Naming Babies:
ajc.com

Latin Resurgence:
economist.com

Literature by the Numbers:
nytimes.com


From: Jennifer May (jennifer.mayATalltel.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--orrery

What a great word! This brings to mind the massive room-sized orrery in the Jim Henson classic, The Dark Crystal, in Aughra's observatory. As she talks to Jen, the story's hero, she is instinctively ducking and sidestepping, to avoid being clobbered by the planets and moons.

Here's a pic of her orrery.


From: Gene Sawan (liamotATaol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--orrery

An orrery couldn't possibly depict relative positions. Motions and relative order in terms of distance, yes-- but, not relative distance. If the sun were on the goal line and the Earth was somewhere about at the 3 yd. line, then Neptune would have to be at the other goal line to reflect relative position from the sun.


From: Toni (toni23717ATaol.com)
Subject: Re: Should the widow of an earl be called a countless?

No, no, the widow of an earl should be called discounted.


From: Michael Greene (michaelATgreenes.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--orrery

Hmmm... Invented by Graham, made by Rowley and given to, and named for, Orrery. I think if I was either Graham or Rowley, I'd feel a bit ornery.


From: Rita H. Mack (ritamack1ATjuno.com)
Subject: originator of the orrery

I wrote a paper recently on Archimedes and one of the facts that I learned was that he originated a 'planetarium' that even Cicero commented on as being a sign of his real genius. This would be a much earlier origin of the orrery than you noted.


From: Linus Gelber (linusATpanix.com)
Subject: On Counts, Earls, and German

Another bit of earl trivia. One delicious cross-language pun is the German name of The Count, the post-Dracula Sesame Street muppet character who wears his vampiric cape, laughs his best monster-movie laugh, and creeps about counting things in a deep Slavic accent (presumably Transylvanian, but who knows).

The Count in the German version of Sesame Street (Sesamstrasse) is named Graf Zahl, which means - in English - Count Count. That's Graf (Count as in Earl) Zahl (count as in 1-2-3). In German it just means, say, Earl Subtotal. For the real pleasure of it you need both languages.


From: Gene K. Edlin (gkedlinATaol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day - Cardigan

The two sweater peers were Cardigan and Raglan. It seems only fair at least to mention Raglan, even though he was born a commoner and became a Lord only late in life, in recognition of outstanding service.
His sweater did not open down the front, and was instead distinguished by the inset sleeves.


From: Louise Largiader (llargiaderATcstone.net)
Subject: Cadogan

I am a big fan of your website, and look forward to my WAD for edification and entertainment. However, today's word definition was vague at best, as were the sites to see what the teapot looks like. After a bit of searching, I found this:
An interior funnel prevents the water from leaking out through the hole.


From: John Campbell (johnppjATaol.com)
Subject: Cadogan

The spelling of Brudnell may actually be Brudenell - see orrery 1/5/04 Isn't a cadogan also a ponytail tied at the back with a ribbon, rubber band, or piece of string based on an 18th-century portrait featuring him? Interesting to note that spell check suggests changing cadogan to cardigan - from one Earl to another.

    Yes and yes. Thanks. -Anu


From: Sarah Egginton (sarahlovescatsAThotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--derby

I was interested to see that the four meanings you gave for today's word, "derby", did not include the one which first sprang to my mind.

Here in the UK, a "derby" is any national league or cup fixture between two teams from the same city or area. For instance, in the city where I live, there are two football teams called Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday. If they had to play each other, which will not happen this season as they are in different divisions, that would be referred to as a "derby" or a "derby match".

I always find it a little ironic that the city of Derby has only one league football team, and therefore we shall never have the pleasure of a Derby derby!


From: Bruce Howarth (brhedATpnc.com.au)
Subject: Famous Earls

Another famous earl besides Count Dracula is the Earl of Moray, a Scottish earl. His fame comes from his association with those misheard phrases called mondegreens. There is an old song about the Earl, of which the important lines are:

They have slain the Earl of Moray
and laid him on the green.

But someone thought two people had been killed:

They have slain the Earl of Moray and Lady Mondegreen


From: Al Hartman (ohioalhartmanATaol.com)
Subject: Re: Earls, Counts & such...

Thinking of English titles brings to mind an incident that took place on the last great late-night TV talk show, which was hosted by Jack Paar in the 1950s. After introducing as his guest the Duchess of Argyle, Paar quipped, "I wear your husband's socks," hiking up his pantlegs for a closeup.


From: Dale Roberts (drobertsATcasarino.com)
Subject: RE: A.Word.A.Day--orrery

I'm sure you're aware that this "fictional" Count was based on a real person, Vlad the Impaler. I've always been fascinated by the fact that this truly horrible person, known for such acts as nailing turbans onto the heads of Hindu ambassadors who refused to remove them in his presence, is today immortalized as a fictional character who has become a parody of himself, appearing in children's cartoons like the Groovie Ghoulies and Drak Pack. It makes me wonder what Adolf Hitler's status will be, five hundred years from now.


From: Silky Pitterman (silkpittATaol.com)
Subject: Count Dracula

You write that Count Dracula is fictional, but there was a Count Dracula in Transylvania. Vlad Tepes also known as Vlad the Impaler. Dracula means daemon or Devil. His way of protecting his land against attack was to impale so many of his own people that he scared the enemy away. I don't know when he lived. My grandmother comes from Transylvania. My mother says she never heard of vampires though until she came to the United States and people looked strangely at her when she said where her mother was from!


From: Marshal Merriam (mfmerriamATyahoo.com)
Subject: Lord Cardigan

Lord Cardigan is known also for his role as leader of the light brigade, immortalized by Tennyson. It was a time when officers were gentlemen, and Cardigan held the view, as did many of his peers, that killing and fighting was not gentlemanly, and should be left to the enlisted ranks. It is said that he led the charge of the light brigade at Balaclava armed only with his cigar. When he had brought his men face to face with the Russian gunners he considered his duty done. He rode back alone, leaving his men to muddle through as best they could. (source: Byron Farwell, "Mr Kipling's Army", p.119).


From: Art Haykin (theartATwebtv.net)
Subject: Who really wrote the Shakespeare plays and sonnets (Re: Oxfordian)

The battle rages, and there are at least six major candidates. One wag settled the whole matter:

"You guys are ALL wrong, that stuff was written by another guy with the same name."


From: Eric Shackle (eshackleATozemail.com.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--oxfordian

Mike Rubbo, who lives only 10 miles from my home, has made a documentary film about the controversy over Shakespeare's identity.

I asked him yesterday if he knew of the Oxfordians. He replied: "Yes I know about the Oxfordians. Their case does not grab me. Many reasons which are too complex to go into here. But he is the favorite alternative in the US, or at least he was till my film came out there. Now Marlowe is giving him a run for the money."

A UK researcher reckons the identity of Shakespeare can be solved by all sorts of word play. Here's a page that will surely interest you.


From: Alan Kaplan (alan.kaplanATmed.va.gov)
Subject: Identity of writers

Statistical analysis has been used to determine the authorship of questioned works, see: sciencenews.org.


From: Michael Wiesenberg (queueingATpacbell.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--yarborough

The card game panguingue (pronounced pan-GHEE-nee, and usually shortened to "pan"), is sort of like gin rummy played with eight decks of cards from which the 8s, 9s, and 10s have been removed, with certain melds being worth chip payments from all the other active players, of whom there may be as many as eight. In pan, a Yarborough is a hand that contains no possibilities of melds, that is, one containing no paired cards and no adjacent cards--or cards separated by one rank--of the same suit. The odds against that hand are higher than those of the bridge version. Incidentally, I would gladly have taken the Earl's bet at those odds.


Words differently arranged have different meanings, and meanings differently arranged have a different effect. -Blaise Pascal, philosopher and mathematician (1623-1662)

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