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AWADmail Issue 24

January 7, 2001

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


From: Aaron Batista (aaronATmonkeybiz.stanford.edu)
Subject: positive forms put to good use...

I immediately thought of this when I read your description of this week's theme. How I Met My Wife (New Yorker).


From: Maria Victoria Go (maria_victoria.goATroche.com)
Subject: words better known in their negative forms

Here's my favorite example of above `maculate' from the Shorter OED:
"a[djective] Spotted, stained; fig[urative] defiled, polluted. Now, chiefly literary, in expressed or implied antithesis to immaculate.
H. FERGUSON Her long black hair ... now hung wet and maculate with clay and sand."

But I like the more mundane use that says "bananas are best eaten when they start getting maculated - a sure sign that they are just the right degree of ripeness".

Educated from early on at a Catholic school run by nuns, the Marian doctrine of Immaculate Conception was a leitmotif of that education. It was always explained in the context of the Blessed Virgin being conceived and born without original sin. And of course 'immaculate' is always associated with spotlessly clean! But hearing about "maculated bananas" later on really drove the point home!


From: B. Oltmann (agnestATu.washington.edu)
Subject: A poem

In keeping with the theme of the week, an old favorite by Ogden Nash:

I dreamed a dream,
And I'm glad I dreamt it:
I dreamed my hair was kempt
And my true love unkempt it.


From: Lois Goldthwaite (loisgATospace.demon.co.uk)
Subject: another non-negative word

Remember the movie Private Benjamin with Goldie Hawn? The drill sergeant is briefing the recruits about a simulated-battle obstacle course they have to tackle: "There will also be land mines. Most of them are inert. However, some of them are ert."


From: Kim Chamberlain (kimilenaATxtra.co.nz)
Subject: AWAD words better known in their negative forms

Reading Douglas Adam's 'Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency' I came across this wonderful piece of Dirk Gently dialogue: "Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all."


From: Kevin D. Knerr, Sr. (kknerrsrATptdprolog.net)
Subject: Re: AWADmail Issue 23

I fully suspect that we will revert to 'twenty' usage for 2010. The 'problem' is that 'twenty oh one' and the like can easily be misunderstood as 'twenty one', while 'twenty ten' does not lend itself to such ambiguity.

Moreover, by then we should have recovered from our fascination with reaching 'two thousand' ... now 'two thousand *and* one!'


From: Neil Gall (neil_gallATagilent.com)
Subject: RE: AWADmail Issue 23

On the subject of "Two thousand and one", Mary Elizabeth McIlvane suggests that "And" puts us back into the Victorian era. It is still normal usage in British English to use "and" for all numbers greater than 1,000...

2,001 = two thousand and one
8,093 = eight thousand and ninety three
4,356 = four thousand, three hundred and fifty six


From: Stephen W. Constable (stephen.w.constableATusa.dupont.com)
Subject: antanaclasis

How's this for a slightly risque (but one of my favorite) antanaclasis:
She offered her honor, he honored her offer and all night long it was honor and offer.


From: Laura Macialek (llm1081ATyahoo.com)
Subject: oxymoron

I believe the most humorous oxymoron that has ever been pointed out to me is that of a "football scholarship".


From: Elizabeth Word-Glennie (ewordglennieATyahoo.com)
Subject: oxymoron

My 13 year old daughter came up with a timely oxymoron: "Decision 2000".


From: John Aul (jaulATsymon.com)
Subject: in responce to W. James Soetaert

If "Compassionate Conservative" is an Oxymoron, then so is "Liberal Values".


From: Barbara Davies (bcdaviesATctacom.fr)
Subject: St Chad

Not only is there a St Chad - He is the patron saint of (wait for it) disputed elections! 7th Century Anglican bishop who resigned when his election, though valid, was contested. Later made bishop of Lichfield, known for his humility! Died March 2, 672. cf Washington Post, Nov 30th 2000, and/or Oxford Dictionary of Saints.

    Here is what I was able to dig on this:
    Washington Post: washingtonpost.com
    Oxford Dictionary of Saints: www.dur.ac.uk
    I don't see any evidence of St. Chad being the patron saint of disputed elections, though if there has to be one, he seems most suited for the job. -Anu


From: David Gravitz (rndgravitzATaol.com)
Subject: Palindromes

I'm new to your group, having just joined as a result of the Smithsonian article. In your series of words about words, I thought you might have "palindrome", although maybe you used it before I joined. Anyway, here's probably the newest, and a very current one:

"Dubya won? No way, bud!"


From: T McKinley (mckinleyATlangley.edu.net)
Subject: Inverted verbiage

I'm not sure this is the place to ask this, but you can blame Smithsonian for leading the cranks to your door. I am writing a play. In one scene, a thief hides in a box that is labeled with the name of a very desirable destination - Hawaii, Paradise, Martinique, etc. When the handlers arrive, they turn the box over so that the destination now spells out - with perhaps a few small modifications - the name of a very UNdesirable destination - Hell, Cleveland, The Lion Cage. Here's my question: Is there a desirable place name that, when turned upside down and (perhaps) slightly modified, becomes an undesirable place name? There could be a mix of capital and lower-case letters and just about any other nonsense to get this gag across.

    Let's see what linguaphiles can come up with. Another place where you can ask questions and discuss words and languages is the bulletin Wordsmith Talk . -Anu


From: Kevin O'Flynn (kevin.oflynnATuk.arthurandersen.com)
Subject: Poetry set to music

In issue 22 someone asked to see more poetry set to music. This brought back a favourite WB Yeats poem that is included on the album "Fisherman's Blues" by The Waterboys. The poem is "The Stolen Child" and is a cross between singing and narrative of the poem, backed by very beautiful music.


I have studied it often, but I never could discover the plot. -Mark Twain, author and humorist, on dictionary (1835-1910)

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