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AWADmail Issue 192December 24, 2005
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)
As part of the Wordlovers' Library Project, the book "A Word A Day" is now on the library shelves in 61 countries so far.
You can send library nominations for the new book "Another Word A Day".
Here is a message from Ruth Ann Harnisch (ruthannATthehf.com) of The Harnisch Family Foundation who made this project possible:
From: C+J Tondreau (tondreauATsympatico.ca)
After writing the five-hour medical exam, several potential candidates took themselves off to the emergency room cradling their "crayon hand" with the other. "Call the physiotherapist" sang out the triage nurse with a smile on her face. "We have an outbreak of mogigraphia again!"
From: Marc S. Williams, MD (marc_williamsATcomcast.net)
Mogigraphia (writer's cramp) is a type of focal dystonia. This can affect many different parts of the body including the vocal cords. It is likely owing to a problem of control involving the basal ganglia of the brain. In addition to writers, many musicians have also been affected, including Leon Fleischer whose performance career was limited for a time to performance of piano concertos for the left hand alone. These focal dystonias can now be treated with injections of Botulinum Toxin (BoTox) in the affected muscle groups to paralyze the overactive muscles. Postural techniques such as the Alexander Method are also effective in some situations. So, if you are so afflicted, get thee to a physician.
From: Dean Urban (durbanAToverlandstorage.com)
I came across this article on CNET News.com. If true, we have to find something else to blame for keyboard mogigraphia. Thanks for such a splendid word.
Contrary to popular belief, heavy computer use -- up to seven hours a day -- does not increase the risk that a person will develop carpal tunnel syndrome, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Harvard Medical School.
From: Bob Simmons (bsimmonsATcompassnet.com)
Here's my contribution from the user's manual of a Korean MP3 player I own:
You can hear Music file of play mode, Voice message of voice recording mode, or MP3 encoding music file of external input recording mode by earphone or internal speaker. Without putting earphone, sounds output by internal speaker.
From: David Fogg (dmfoggATamnet.co.cr)
There's an even more delightful German word that describes a person who has a particularly good feel for (a) language:
Fingerspitzengefühl > fingertip-feeling
Unlike Sprachgefühl, it can also be used to describe one who has a fluent and supple command of any other complex area of endeavor in which discrimination, taste and an ear/eye for "le mot juste" (das treffende Wort) are called for.
From: Ian Vaino (ivainoATtriant.com)
Here is a site tashian.com/multibabel that illustrates the point nicely, but starting with an English phrase. It sequentially translates your phrase to five other languages, and back into English after each one. Whether this still constitutes a true lack of Sprachgefuhl, I am not certain, but it is still entertaining.
For example, the phrase "A word a day keeps the doldrums away" is translated to "A word to the day maintains scorings the left."
From: Roger Brant (ram1ATtelus.net)
Just so you know -- here in Canada, on our national radio network, CBC, a pop-culture program called "Definitely Not The Opera" runs a weekly contest -- "Lost in Translation" -- where they run popular song lyrics through the Google translator and then back (sometimes involving three languages) and contestants e-mail in their guesses as to what the original song was.
From: Michael L. Hall (mike.hallATpobox.com)
As the comedian Steve Martin used to say, "Some people have a way with words, and other people... not have way."
From: Andrew Gettig (agettig2000ATyahoo.com)
Your story of the Portuguese pocket translator made me think of this site engrish.com. I hope you get a laugh out of it. There are so many of these curiosities, that English teachers and other speakers of English are regularly contributing new material.
From: Emily A Reba (ear272ATnyu.edu)
In France the word for a piece of paper with writing on both sides is "recto-verso", which I never understood the meaning of until this email.
From: Jan Boshoff (idemATmweb.co.za)
Epos means exactly the same in Afrikaans. When written with a hyphen (e-pos), it means e-mail.
From: Alan H Schulman (aschulmanAToperoni.helsinki.fi)
[From curly, from curl, from crul (yes, that's how it was spelled earlier) + cue, from Old French cue (tail).]
Ah, now I understand how "cruller", the twisted German fried sweet bread, is related to "curl".
From: James Taggart (iagotATcomcast.net)
John Hancock is said to have said that he signed his name so large so that King George could read it without having to put his glasses on.
From: Peg Kelley (kelleyATfacplus.com)
The story I was told is that anyone signing the Declaration was taking a very big risk. The odds were low that the colonies would win the war. And those who were involved could face serious repercussions when the British won. Therefore, many signators deliberately made their names difficult to read. That John Hancock made his so clear and prominent was an act of courage and a strong political statement.
This may be one of those myths that evolve to exalt the founders of the nation.
Dictionary: Spell binder. -Joseph F. Morris