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AWADmail Issue 121May 9, 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)
The Language Detective:
How to Navigate Scientific Language:
From: Amanda Crowley (amandacrowleyATrehabprograms.org)
History behind the term idiot savant: There were no early tests used to determine the functioning level of people with disabilities, people were classified as: idiot, imbecile or moron. In the late 1950s it was decided to administer the standard IQ test (initially used to classify WW-I Service men).
From: Peirce Hammond (peirce.hammondATed.gov)
The word "spendthrift" is an insult, or at least a putdown, for one living in an economic system like our own. But in a gift economy--think potlatch--there is no greater compliment. Neither would there be a contradiction--giving is the measure of one's prosperity. Perhaps we could use more of that frame of mind.
From: Jason Gresh (jgreshATsportingnews.com)
It might be worth mentioning that in contemporary usage among musicians and concertgoers the word fortepiano usually indicates a performance on a "period" instrument, and is meant to contrast with piano, implying the modern instrument.
From: Margaret Maxfield (mmaxf2ATyahoo.com)
I hope this week's oxymorons will include "sophomore", and did you know that historians rejoice in their journal "History Today"?
From: Charles Small (curmudgeon1ATsympatico.ca)
I thought of your oxymoron collection today, having spent a few hours PLANTING a garden of WILD FLOWERS.
From: Andrew Smith (asmithATmail.wrl.org)
The late 20th century addition to the oxymoron family - Microsoft Help.
From: Brian Dorsk (invinoveritas1ATaol.com)
I would also like to contribute a couple of oxymorons that I have enjoyed for years, the first of which seems temporally appropriate now vis-a-vis the current Iraq conflict: military intelligence and posthaste.
From: Alan Tobey (alantobeyATearthlink.net)
To continue the May 2 discussion of oxymorons, currently-suffering fans of our local baseball team here in the San Francisco Bay Area have proposed what may be the world's first one-word oxymoron: Giants!
From: Banerjee (banerjeemtATexeculink.com)
If your are interested in paradoxes of all varieties, check out "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid," by Douglas Hofstadter. Therein, you'll find gems such as:
The following statement is false.
Men ever had, and ever will have leave, / To coin new words well suited to the age, / Words are like leaves, some wither every year, / And every year a younger race succeeds. -Horace, poet and satirist (65-8 BCE)