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AWADmail Issue 208

May 7, 2006

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


From: Walter Dike (walter.dikeAThoneywell.com)
Subject: "sports-challenged"

I am likewise "sports-challenged"...

I've often thought that if we, as a society, valued teachers as we value sports "heroes" and paid them accordingly, we might actually make something of ourselves as a nation. So, perhaps being "sports-challenged" is not a bad thing. Certainly it saves time for reading and PC-gaming.


From: James Hobbs (james.hobbsATukonline.co.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sticky wicket

Sticky wickets have become, in fact, a rare thing in cricket since the introduction of fully covered wickets into the first class game more than 25 years ago. If it rains, the players go off, the covers go on, and stickiness is thus averted.


From: Alan Tuffery (atufferyATtcd.ie)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sticky wicket

Wicket is an interesting word. As a cricket umpire I have been trained to refer to the small piece of ground on which cricket is played as the 'pitch'. The wicket is the three upright stumps with two horizontal bails on top.

Players (and commentators) from time immemorial have always used 'pitch' for 'wicket'. Of course to insist on the 'correct' usage would destroy this lovely phrase, redolent of the great days of the game in 1930s and before.


From: Kazim Saeed (kazimsaeedAThotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sticky wicket

Doesn't a sticky wicket make a cricket ball swing unpredictably, not 'bounce unpredictably'?

Kazim in Karachi (we take these things very seriously over here ; )


From: David Fagundes (david_fagundesATyahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hat trick

The original meaning of hat trick was three consecutive successes in a sport. A player who scored two goals, then a third after a teammate scored an intervening one, would not have been said to have scored a hat trick by this definition.

The definition, however, has become relaxed in common usage so that three goals in a game is regarded as a hat trick regardless of their timing or whether they're consecutive, and three consecutive successes are typically distinguished as a "natural hat trick".

A major example in recent years was Pedro Pauleta's natural hat trick for the Portuguese national team against Poland in the 2002 World Cup: three consecutive goals, followed by a fourth by teammate Rui Costa to cap a 4-0 victory.


From: Art Haykin (theartATwebtv.net)
Subject: Hat Trick

Three consecutive strikes in bowling is called a turkey. Three strikes to a batter is called an out, and four balls, a walk. A homerun with three on base is called a grandslam. In golf, a three under par is a double eagle or an albatross. In law, three felonies get you 25 to life. On a date, three is a crowd, and in positive attempts at anything three's a charm. Anyone for a trifecta?


From: Lesley Ruzon (newmommy34AThotmail.com)
Subject: Hat Trick

There is an article today in the San Jose Mercury News about what happens to all the hats after a hat trick at a hockey game. Here in San Jose they are collected and the good ones are given to charity.


From: Jill Cockrell (jillscATsbcglobal.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hat trick

In our family, hat trick has a related meaning. My husband is an Episcopal priest (40+ years). When he has a wedding, a baptism, and a funeral in the same weekend (once on the same day!), we call that a hat trick.


From: Craig Good (goodATpixar.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dipsy doodle

I wonder about that origin. I recall it as a Tommy Dorsey song. It was one of those fun novelty songs from the old days. It almost seems more likely the sports announcers adopted it from there. At least to me.


From: Prof Richard S. Kaplan, MD, FACP (r.kaplanATncrn.org.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dipsy doodle

Apropos of the William Feather quotation ("One of the funny things about the stock market is that every time one person buys, another sells, and both think they are astute."), I suppose we have to acknowledge that there IS a logical possibility that both persons were in fact astute. This could be yet another instance of the famous "Will Rogers phenomenon".

I could try to explain that it's an apparent paradox related to different starting points for two data sets, but it's best comprehended by reference to the observation that earned it its name: Will Rogers was alleged to have said that when the Okies left Oklahoma and moved to California, they raised the average intelligence level in both states.

In medicine there is a very similar phenomenon called "stage migration" that we see all the time, whereby a new test is developed that identifies a higher risk subgroup of individuals with, say, stage I br east cancer and places them in stage II. After application of this test, however, the remaining patients who are still called stage I have a better prognosis (because the highest risk cases have been shifted out) and so do the patients who are now classed as stage II (because the 'new' members of that group still have a better prognosis than the average stage II group before the transfer).

Now, I'm not sure the stock market is often a good example of the WRP with both the buyers and the sellers improving their absolute positions, but it must occasionally be the case.


From: Dennis Vail (denvailATsbcglobal.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--wild card

There is also an important American usage: in baseball, football, and other sports, the term designates a team qualifying for a league playoff series by fulfilling certain requirements that are lower than those for the other included teams.


Translation is the art of erasing oneself in order to speak in another's voice. -David Cole, professor, author, and correspondent (1958- )

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