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AWADmail Issue 125June 15, 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)
Once-dying Chinook Language Finds Future:
A Dog's Vocabulary:
From: Eleanor Dugan (DuganekATaol.com)
There was a wonderful Doonsbury cartoon a few years back about Ted Kennedy making a speech. After a very long sentence that was going nowhere and saying nothing, the audience began calling out, "A VERB, Senator, a VERB!"
From: Bob Fiori (robtfioriATaol.com)
Smallweed; The Guardian (London, UK); Jan 28, 1995.
From: Michael Poole (michaelATcew.melco.co.jp)
What a word! I love it. I'm seriously deracinated: a "South Pacific Pom" living in Japan. People here always ask visibly obvious aliens like me where they come from, but I'm so deracinated I don't have a good answer, not even for myself.
From: Raymond Anderson (raymondaATiafrica.com)
I was surprised to see the entry on "deracinate", meaning: 1. To uproot, or 2. To displace someone or something from a native culture or environment. I just visited my home in Canada, where one of my favourite soft drinks is root beer. Being a bilingual country the labels also have the French name, "racinette".
From: James Schoening (jmsATvcn.bc.ca)
One place that verbs are becoming scarce is in TV newscasts. Many American and Canadian newscasters leave out the verb to be in the first sentence of a news story. I assume that this is done somewhat in the spirit of a headline, but it is different from a newspaper headline. Whereas a newspaper might say, "President Bush Visits Iraq," the TV version might be, "Today, President Bush visiting Iraq." There is no "is"! I find it particularly jarring to hear this.
From: Helene Demeestere (lndmstrATaol.com)
Mentioning the novel of Thaler, "The train from nowhere" reminded me of a literary work by a very feminist French writer, some thirty years ago, who published a novel where she replaced all the words including the four letters Pere (father) by replacing the P for an M, which became Mere (mother) such as Permanent became Mermanent, Perfusion, Merfusion and so on.
From: Thomas Rush (thomas.rushAThp.com)
One of the 'neatest' examples of this phenomenon is found in Southern California, where people often talk about The La Brea Tar Pits (resting place of thousands of prehistoric animals that became trapped and then preserved in the sticky natural asphalt).
'La brea' is Spanish for "The tar", so people are speaking of "The The Tar Tar Pits."
Language is fossil poetry. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)