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AWADmail Issue 233

October 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)
Subject: Errata and chat

Errata:

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.

Chat:

Don't forget tonight's chat at wordsmith.org/chat. Oct 29, 2006, 7 pm Pacific (GMT -8)


From: Henry Willis (hmw ssdslaw.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pertinacious

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,
per farti mover lento com'uom lasso
e al sė e al no che tu non vedi . . .

. . . perch'elli 'ncontra che pių volte piega
l'oppinion corrente in falsa parte,
e poi l'affetto l'intelletto lega."

"And let this always weigh down your feet like lead,
to make you move as slowly as a weary man,
to refrain from yes or no when you do not see ...

because hasty opinion too often
points the wrong way and then affection
for one's own opinion binds up the intellect."

Paradiso XIII: 112-114, 118-120


From: Randy Fertel (randy fertel.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pertinacious

Or as W.B. Yeats in his apocalyptic "The Second Coming" wrote:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


From: William Simon (bill simon1.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pixilated

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)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pixilated

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)
Subject: pixilated

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)
Subject: Re: Books are not attractive to thieves (Re: bibliopegy)

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)
Subject: Punctilious

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.


A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.
-Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

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