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AWADmail Issue 233October 29, 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 wordsmith.org)
In the etymology of the word punctilious, the Italian word puntiglio was listed with a superfluous "c".
In the usage example of the word oscitant, Robert Southey's last name had an "e" missing.
Don't forget tonight's chat at wordsmith.org/chat. Oct 29, 2006, 7 pm Pacific (GMT -8)
From: Henry Willis (hmw ssdslaw.com)
Re: Bertrand Russell's, "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts", Dante had something to say on this subject too, although he put his words in the mouth of St. Thomas Aquinas:
"E questo ti sia sempre piombo a' piedi,
. . . perch'elli 'ncontra che pių volte piega
"And let this always weigh down your feet like lead,
because hasty opinion too often
Paradiso XIII: 112-114, 118-120
From: Randy Fertel (randy fertel.com)
Or as W.B. Yeats in his apocalyptic "The Second Coming" wrote:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
From: William Simon (bill simon1.com)
How do we ever manage to communicate in a language filled with words like "pixilated", which (though unbeknownst to me until today) carry simultaneous contradictory meanings. If you read that someone is pixilated, how do you know whether the author meant it as a compliment ("whimsical"), a colorful description ("eccentric"), or a whopping put-down ("mentally unbalanced").
It's fine to say "from the context", but what if it's the only mention of that particular person -- say, within a longer piece? Mystery.
From: Carl Carter (ccarter sirf.com)
Not to be confused with "pixelated", which means either converted to a digital format, or displayed in such a way that the pixels that make up the image are discernable.
From: Bruce Walker (brucewalkersf sbcglobal.net)
Long before Robert DeNiro, as older moviegoers will recall, it was Gary Cooper as Longfellow Deeds in the 1936 movie Mr. Deeds Goes to Town who was declared pixilated. Actually Mr Deeds was taken to court for being crazy until he convinced everyone in the courtroom they were crazy, too.
From: Pam Allyn (pjkcallyn aol.com)
I run a program called Books for Boys at The Children's Village http://www.childrensvillage.org . We distribute books and read to the boys there. The children who live there are all from New York's foster care system, and love so much to be read to. Believe it or not, I was proud when I saw books begin to be stolen at The Children's Village, because at first, none of the boys were that interested in the books. They wanted video games.
But when we started our campaign of reading aloud to them, they fell under the reading spell. I started to see them slipping one into their pockets. I would smile and say: "I know you love books. I am so proud of you for that. But I will do two things to help you with your new passion: one is to show you how to use the library, and also I am going to buy you the one you love." It is welcoming them into the literacy culture. Stealing books was the first sign of their entry!
From: Eric Shackle (eshackle ozemail.com.au)
Your definition of punctilious ("extremely attentive to minute details of action or behavior") aptly describes Mandyam Srinivasan, biological science researcher at Australian National University, who has won The Prime Minister's 2006 Prize for Science.
After studying for several years how bees use their brains (which are the size of sesame seeds) to avoid collisions and to fly through tunnels, he believes humans may manage to adapt the tiny insects' methods when designing pilotless flying machines.
It sounds like a fanciful dream - but NASA and the US military are backing his research with substantial grants. More details in the November edition of my free e-book.
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