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AWADmail Issue 207

April 30, 2006

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

Oniomania in news: My God is a God who wants me to have things:
Vancouver Sun

Study: Grammar can be for the birds; There is no "single magic bullet" that separates humans from animals:
Seattle Times

'W' gets its own place in Swedish language:
San Jose Mercury News


From: Raymond Forest (rpauldefATwebtv.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--oniomania

When my daughter used to take frequent cruises to European ports, they did little sightseeing but never missed a shopportunity, which was my neologism for the practice.


From: Ed Buhl (etbuhlATaol.com)
Subject: oniomania

Perhaps it should be spelled own-I-owe-mania; its meaning would then be obvious.


From: Karen Trame (momketATfuse.net)
Subject: oniomania

My sister and I were shopping for a pair of shoes for her to wear to a wedding. We had taken my five-year-old nephew TJ along and with every pair of shoes that my sister tried on, TJ had brought one from the boys' section. "A pair of sandals because it was warm out, a pair of dress shoes for church, a pair of sneakers for running fast," were his explanations. My sister referred to him as her "very own Imelda". He has outgrown this form of oniomania, but it was very funny at the time.


From: Carl N. E. Burnett (carl.n.e.burnett.03ATalum.dartmouth.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--garbology

One of the sixties' most prominent garbologists was AJ Weberman, a self-proclaimed Dylanologist who believed he could gain insights into the mind of Bob Dylan by combing through the dumpster behind his house in Manhattan.


From: Goldie Silverman (goldie.silvermanATcomcast.net)
Subject: feedback: garbology

I'd never heard of garbology, but when I was researching my book, Backpacking with Babies and Small Children (Wilderness Press, Berkeley, CA), I came across the Garbage Project of the Bureau of Applied Research, Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona. Beginning in the 1980s, these researchers dug up landfills in different parts of the country. Up until that time, no one had really studied what happens in landfills. Assumptions were based on models that assumed that biodegradable materials would degrade with time. The investigations showed that as the landfills aged and the oxygen in the first two or three feet was used up, decomposition stopped. They found 40-year-old newspapers at the bottom of the landfills that were still legible. Surprisingly to me, as a writer trying to discourage parents from using disposable diapers, it was not the diapers that were filling up the landfills--most of the intact material was newspaper.


From: Julie Lipkin (julonATadelphia.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--garbology

The last time I ate a hot dog was right before I learned that hot dogs unearthed from landfills after 10 to 15 years are perfectly preserved and still edible.


From: James E. Hunter (jehunterATpantechengineering.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--garbology

With regard to words with common prefixes, "Crateology" was coined by the CIA during the Cold War. It involved our determining the contents of crates containing Soviet weapons of war, e.g., MiG fighter aircraft and battle tanks, and thereby helped in maintaining a running tally of the inventory of Soviet puppets.

These large items were stowed on the exposed decks of ships and, since Russia has no warm water port, these ships were forced to pass through the Dardenelles en route to the Mediterranean from the Black Sea. Under a 1930s treaty, the Soviets were required to announce in advance their intention to send a ship through this strait. And, of course our agents, having studied at length the shape of the crating of any large weapon, were stretched out with field glasses along the crest of the same cliffs from which Turkish fire decimated Churchill's troops at Gallipoli in 1915.

Another such word with roughly the same provenance is "Rustology". The Soviets tried to camouflage their ships of war traversing this route by placing painted steel forms over bridges, guns, decks, etc., but they were unable to hide the signature of the hull of any ship: its rust spots. And it was these giveaways, studied intently by US agents, that kept their movements under constant observation.


From: Larry Goldman (lgoldmanATcsupomona.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--theophany

Here's a relatively new uncommon word with a common prefix and a common suffix:

Neurotheology: A new field of research in the neurosciences that investigates the brain activity that accompanies and is responsible for various religious beliefs and experiences. A popular book in this area (by Andrew Newberg, Eugene D'Aquili and Vince Rause) is called "Why God Won't Go Away". The reason presented there, and in many other books and research articles, is that religious experiences are rooted in the biology of the brain. Apparently having religious and mythological beliefs and experiences. has been adaptive for humans, and so we have evolved with brains that tend to establish and follow such belief systems.


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

Philography hounds must be used to famous people saying NO. They could reverse that response by asking ON for his autograph. On is a brilliant young Japanese web designer who has devised cryptic game puzzles twice as difficult as cryptic crosswords. First you have to work out how to play one of the games, then how to achieve a high score. For further details, see a story in the May edition of my free e-book.


Homicide and verbicide -- that is, violent treatment of a word with fatal results to its legitimate meaning, which is its life -- are alike forbidden. -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., poet, novelist, essayist, and physician (1809-1894)

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