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AWADmail Issue 311

June 15, 2008


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

Bees Learn New Languages Easily:
Telegraph

Poetry as Punishment:
The New York Times

Congress Debates Merits Of New Catchphrase:
The Onion

Reinvent, Reuse, Recycle:
Encarta
(a column by yours truly on Encarta)


From: Rudy Rosenberg (rudyrr att.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dornick

Doornik is hard to find on a map these days. The town is better known under its francophonic name of Tournai. Situated in the Walloon province of Hainaut, it has fallen on hard times thanks mostly to the Flemish government policy of Belgium. Tournai is definitively French speaking.

Tournai, site of many battles in WWI has a wondrous cathedral well worth a visit.


From: Judith Rothschild (rothschildjr appstate.edu)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--dornick

I'm delighted to read your entry on dornick--which answers a question of long standing for me.

For years and years my paternal grandmother (born in Missouri) would use the expression, "as hard as a donnick". I'd search, but never found the word "donnick".

I now see that it is a deformation of dornick. My grandmother had no Irish nor Flemish ancestry, so all I can imagine is that the expression was used in the Missouri locality where she was raised. And that I do not know.


From: Judy M Anderson (judmilla juno.com)
Subject: Re: dornick

My mother, whose given name was Doris, grew up with the nickname of Dornick. I never knew it was an actual word, I thought it was just a nonsense syllable they made up. Her family was German, but there were Irish cousins, so maybe they meant she was a fistful.


From: Alain Gottcheiner (agot ulb.ac.be)
Subject: dornick - redde caesaris

Your last item of A.Word.A.Day nearly created a casus belli in my country. More seriously, in those times of linguistic unrest in Belgium, with Flemish annexationism criticized in international settings, we felt uncomfortable to read this in a highly language-conscious context:

Dornick, from Doornik, the name of a Flemish town where the cloth was first manufactured.

The Roman city of Tornacum was the biggest within the nearest thousand miles or so around the 4th century; it then became the capital of Franks, part of the Duchy of Flanders, and is now Belgian. Its main language, by far, is French. It's usually known under its French name of Tournai. Flemish was always secondary in Tournai, contrary to the neighbouring cities of Lille (France), Mouscron (Belgium, now French-speaking) and Courtrai (Belgium, still Flemish). It pertains to the Picardy linguistic area. One can, however, ascertain strong cultural Flandrian (not Flemish) links, e.g. in housebuilding.

It became known as Doornik -- its Flemish name -- in cloth trading, because Brugge, the turntable of this business, was Flemish, and the Bruggenaars of course used Flemish names.

It lies only fifteen miles away from the linguistic boundary between French and Flemish, twenty miles from the site of the biggest military clash between Flemish and French, so you'd expect to find some sensibility on both sides there.


From: Robert Singleton (rmsing45 earthlink.net)
Subject: feedback: hubbub

My high school theatre voice-and-diction students learn "hubbub" early in their study of plosive consonants with a short Arthur Lessac poem in which he likens the labial plosive to the sound to that of a kettle drum. They relish performing the playful lip explosions while learning new vocabulary words.

The hubbub in the suburb was just a microbe in a cobweb,
Compared to the hubbub of the hobnobs, bobbing on the job,
Imbibing and cavorting and probably subscribing to sin.


From: Joanne Cleroux (assetdoc rogers.com)
Subject: Hubbub

I recall an etymologist (Bergen Evans perhaps?) wrote that the sound of hubbub's French equivalent, "charivari" reflected the livelier tones of the French compared to the more subdued "hubbub". I can only wonder at the Italian word for a crowd of chanting, excited footballers.


From: Michelle Hakala (winebird inreach.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hubbub

I learned this word when very young, from Bugs Bunny. After having given Elmer Fudd a wild goose chase, he'd stand leaning on a tree or fence post and say, "Eh, what's all the hubbub, Bub?"


From: Paul Glover (pglover bulkley.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--smithereens

Residents of our small town of Smithers, in northwestern British Columbia, Canada, are officially known as Smithereens.


No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous. -Henry Brooks Adams, historian (1838-1918)

This week's theme
Words borrowed from Irish

This week's words
shebeen
dornick
hubbub
cosher
smithereens

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