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AWADmail Issue 276

October 14, 2007

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


From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Use It or Lose It: Why Language Changes over Time:
Scientific American

Evolution of a Hip, Ironic Catchphrase:
Salon.com


From: Natty Bumppo (borfents windstream.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gravamen

I'm a lawyer, and I love words, and I love to argue. But I am not allowed to argue in my own house. None of my many wives ever told me to "go tell your lies in court." In fact, none of them ever accused me of lying.

What they have said, and what my children and stepchildren have said, is that it is not fair for me to argue with them, because I am a lawyer -- a professional arguer. A lawyer is without freedom of speech in his own home.

But that's OK: One cannot win an argument with women or children in the first place.


From: Tom Jayson (tomjay5 hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--force majeure

Just as it is looking as if negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the networks and studios are reaching a serious impasse I wake up to the news that strikes count as force majeure (since confirmed by my attorney) and that I could come out of six months of no employment to find that the deals I just signed have been nullified.


From: Jay Florey (jfflorey olywa.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--force majeure

From my days as a sailor, force majeure has a slightly different meaning. It is an event, either external or internal, that happens to a vessel or aircraft that allows that vessel or aircraft to enter normally restricted areas without penalty. A recent example would be the U.S. Navy aircraft that landed at a Chinese military airbase after a collision with a Chinese fighter. Under the principle of force majeure, the aircraft must be allowed to land without interference.


From: Rosina C. Morgan (r-cmorg comcast.net)
Subject: Re: force majeure

We had picked up a siamese cat who resisted all attempt at housebreaking which on a yacht is not supportable, So when we moored under the Tour d'Argent we decided the cat had to go.

I had seen a small curiosity shop on the Isle de la Cite with a window full of cats. So I went there with our cat in a basket and a prepared story about a sister, gravely ill in London and I had to go and help nurse her, but the cat, you know, British quarantine laws, could not go with me and I had to find a home for him. The elderly ladies looked at the cat and debated, "Ah, Madame, c'est force majeure," and they took the cat.


From: BranShea (via Wordsmith Talk bulletin board) Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--per stirpes, per capita

Interesting matter, law.

Per capita: Would be good for you Hydra!


From: David Montague (vermontague juno.com)
Subject: intellectual stimulation / curiosity vs. utility has finally been settled

The recent discussion about whether "words for words' sake" or "useful words" was nicely resolved this morning for me in the discussion of 'per stirpes'.

As I recently had a will prepared, distributing my estate among my five sons "per stirpes", I was glad to get an explanation which I understood... from AWAD! However, it may cost me. I'm enjoying my grand-daughters (five of them) so much that perhaps "per capita" may be the better way to go, which would mean revising the document! (I sure feel sorry for those poor souls who are stuck with just grandsons)!


From: Gary Muldoon (muldg aol.com)
Subject: stirpital distribution

Because of having taught an estate law course to paralegal students for several years, I was pleased to see this term come up. Per stirpes is a bit difficult to grasp. In New York State, the three general methods of distribution are per stirpes, per capita, and by representation. My co-teacher used a thumbnail explanation to begin explaining the difference between the three: "by the head" (per capita), "by the level" (by representation), and "by the stock" (per stirpes).


From: Alexandra Halsey (alexandra.s.halsey gmail.com)
Subject: Re: per stirpes/George Eliot

I'm writing not about the word of the day, but the quotation of the day. I was happy to learn of its author, since some time ago I'd seen this quotation, unattributed, on a card, with the word "friendship" substituted for the words "feeling safe with a person" and thought it a lovely description. There are, however, some differing opinions about its true provenance; a British writer named Dinah Craik may well be the true originator of these words (see Wikipedia [scroll down to the heading "A Life for a Life (1859)] and geonius.com/eliot/quotes.html

Quotations are not Wordsmith.org's primary focus, but they are a wonderful part of your daily offerings, and you give such care and attention to the provenance and expression and usage of words I thought you might likewise appreciate validating the accuracy of a quotation as well. And I found it illuminating to learn about this less well-known author. Cheers!

    Thanks for the correction.
    -Anu Garg


From: P. Nagendra Prasad (pnagendraprasad yahoo.com)
Subject: Thank you

I have been a subscriber of AWAD for nearly three years now and I have enjoyed every single word. Recently, I scored 98% in the verbal section of Graduate Record Examination. I am much indebted to AWAD for such a score. Thanks a lot!


Language is the archives of history. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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