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AWADmail Issue 199

March 5, 2006

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


From: Edmond Spaeth (edspaethATaol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--palisade

The second definition ("A line of steep cliffs, especially along a river") was the one I learned first as a young boy. I was born and raised in Yonkers, NY, which is situated on the east bank of the Hudson River and directly opposite the beautiful basalt rocky cliffs known as the Palisades. These cliffs rise up 500 feet above the river.

Early on, I learned to appreciate this geological wonder, as my family would on many occasions, ride the ferry from Yonkers to Alpine, NJ, where we would spend a glorious summer day's outing beneath the cliffs. Much of the land atop and beneath the cliffs has been preserved through the generosity of Jay Gould and John D. Rockefeller who prevented the farther desecration of the cliffs from uncontrolled quarrying. Of course, they too, enjoyed the prospects of these cliffs from their palatial homes farther north on the east bank in Tarrytown.

During the American Revolution, the British forces under Lord Cornwallis scaled these cliffs and managed to haul their cannons and other supplies to the top of the cliffs. In the early part of the 20th century, there was a popular amusement park atop these cliffs known as Palisades Park. It is now defunct, but lives on in the collective memory of those who rode the fun rides and in the lyrics of the Freddy Cannon song "Palisades Park".


From: M Seakins (seakinsATcaribsurf.com)
Subject: The Palisadoes in Jamaica

While Jamaica was a colony of Spain (up to 1665), stakes were placed between the various cays (= keys in the USA) along the Southern edge of what is now Kingston Harbour. Material coming down the Hope River silted up between these posts (probably assisted by waves bringing in sand from the beaches to the East on the South coast of Jamaica). The result was a continuous sand peninsula from 'Harbour Head' to Port Royal which is now called 'The Palisadoes'. The main airport in Jamaica, now called the Norman Manley Airport, used to be called Palisadoes Airport as it is along the Palisadoes some five miles towards Kingston from Port Royal.


From: Andrew Pressburger (andrew.pressburgerATprimus.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bagatelle

Perhaps the most attractive use of this word occurs in music. When nothing else comes to mind, one can (using the "humble bit") title one's compositions bagatelles, as did Beethoven famously in his Op. 126 for piano, and Dvorak, only slightly less less famously, in his Op. 47 for string trio and harmonium. A musical medley for "a medley of words".


From: Philip Viener (keepervATatt.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bagatelle

During this last American football season, I heard a television sports commentator refer to the fine one player was assessed by the National Football League for some on-field misconduct as being a "mere bag of shells" to him. An amusing malapropism, but I did find myself liking the mis-spoken phrase. There's a certain whimsical quality that makes it equivalent to the original word. Of course, in some cultures, a bag of shells would have significant value, so it wouldn't work everywhere.


From: Kerry Johnson (kerry.johnsonATrtp.ppdi.com)
Subject: Frankenstein quotation (re: bagatelle

How strange that this quotation should arrive today, when I read those words just last night! I'm reading Frankenstein for the first time, and was amazed by two things. 1) that the "Good doctor" abandons his work shortly after creating it, and 2) that the creation speaks, and most eloquently. He's not the shuffling groaning monster popularized in films, and is deeply miserable to have come to sentience with no friend in the world and no way to make one. What an amazing book; certainly one worth a re-read in the future.


From: Deborah & Kerry Bennett (skybluewaratahATozemail.com.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mulligrubs

I won't be the only person from a cricket-playing nation to tell you about mulligrubbers (maybe it's mullygrubbers). When a ball bowled by the bowler at the batsman (pitched by the pitcher to the batter in American parlance) stays very low and barely gets off the ground, what has happened is that the bowler has bowled a mulligrubber. Mulligrubbers are very hard for batsmen to hit. Many years ago a mulligrubber caused an international incident between Australia and New Zealand, and it reverberates to this day.


From: Alison Huettner (pondalorumATaol.com)
Subject: mulligrubs

What fun to see that particular word! I always thought "mulligrubs" were one's guts or entrails, as my mother refers to a mild stomachache as "having the collywobbles in one's little mulligrubs". I have no idea where she picked that up.


From: Joseph Knight (knightATsad50.k12.me.us)
Subject: This week's Secret Mystery Theme

Something about the potpourri theme got under my skin. The moment I opened Friday's word I set to find the Secret Mystery Theme that even you didn't know was there.

For a while I thought the theme was 'All but one'. My brother and I came up with these examples:

All but one is a noun. (volitant)
All but one is 3 syllables. (adit)
All but one is of Latin descent. (mulligrubs)

All but one has an A. (mulligrubs)
All but one has an I. (bagatelle)
All but one has an L. (adit)

All but one has at least one duplicated letter. (adit)
All but one has an even number of letters. (bagatelle)
All but one shares a letter with only one other word. (volitant either doesn't share a letter, or shares it with two or more other words)

All but one starts with a consonant. (adit)
All but one has a vowel as the second letter. (adit)
All but one has a consonant as the third letter. (adit)

All but one has a two-letter English word in it. (mulligrubs doesn't: volitANt, adIT, palISade, bagATelle)

All but one has at least two three-letter English words in them. (adit doesn't: lit/ant, pal/sad, bag/gat/ell, ull/rub)

But 'All but one' doesn't really fit the usual Mystery Theme.

Finally I realized that the Secret Mystery Theme was "A Series of Unfortunate Examples".

Monday: volitant, Gershwin has a tumor.
Tuesday: adit, Sanders's head is crushed.
Wednesday: palisade, Arcelor faces a hostile takeover.
Thursday: bagatelle, The world is destroyed.
Friday: mulligrubs, Poor Schmidt is depressed.


From: Eric Shackle (eshackleATozemail.com.au)
Subject: anagrams

The world's anagram lovers may be interested to read about two anagram geniuses. Wiliam Tunstall-Pedoe, a talented Cambridge (UK) software developer and entrepreneur, who developed the AnagramGenius software, lives in Cambridge, England, while America's ANAGRAM GENIUS is a Seattle wordsmith whose NAME IS ANU GARG. The story is in the March edition of my free e-book.


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)

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