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AWADmail Issue 319

August 10, 2008

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

Lecturer Calls For Spelling Amnesty On Students' Top 20 Errors:
Daily Mail

Word's Worth:
Encarta (a column by yours truly)


From: David L. Rose (rosesall aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--paper tiger
Def: One who is outwardly strong and powerful but is in fact powerless and ineffectual.

Paper Tiger is a trade name for a tool used for removing wallpaper. The tool has several wheels, each with many sharp points that is rolled over a wall covered with wallpaper. The tool makes hundreds of small cuts into the paper which facilitates its removal. It's as if the paper has been attacked by the claws of a (small) tiger.


From: Leslie Hart (leslie.hart gmail.com)
Subject: Paper Tiger

I have also heard is applied (or perhaps misapplied) to someone who is particularly good at administrative (paper) work.


From: Kathleen Comalli Dillon (bluevireo55 yahoo.com)
Subject: feedback: loose cannon
Def: An uncontrollable or unpredictable person, often causing damage to his own faction.

The usage of "loose cannon" is endemic in symphony and opera orchestras as well, especially among string sections. It refers to a player who is unpredictable and likely to make a wrong entrance because he or she is not attuned to the nature of opera and/or to the importance and nuances of blending with a section. Though players like this lower the level of ensemble, more experienced players are sometimes amused by the loose cannons' "accidental solos" or "inadvertent bids for stardom". On the other hand, the loose cannons often fail to get tenure.


From: Hiller B. Zobel (honzobe aol.com)
Subject: loose cannon

The reference is to the scene in Victor Hugo's novel Ninety-Three, where a cannon breaks loose aboard a warship, only to be subdued by the gunner after a terrifying duel, which Hugo brilliantly describes.


From: Roger Bullard (rogabullard earthlink.net)
Subject: Quotation

"Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good." -Alice May Brock, author (b. 1941)

And high fructose corn syrup makes it American.


From: Keith Crossley (him keith.crossley.name)
Subject: Metaphors

This is so childlike, but today I saw a bumper sticker that coincided with this week's theme: "Metaphors be with you".


From: Linda Wish (orchidwish comcast.net)
Subject: metaphor and semantics

This week's metaphors delight me because 40 years ago I wrote a semantics thesis on metaphor, furthering a professor's observation that some metaphors, such as 'steel postage stamp' altered one's concept of 'postage stamp' more than that of 'steel', whereas 'constipated river' changed your concept of 'constipated' more than that of 'river'. I was able to make a ranking of semantic concepts that seemed consistent with one's understanding of what types of concepts fairly rigidly survived an unusual combination and which concepts flexed to mean something more metaphorical in the word combination.


From: Mike Karlesky (michael karlesky.net)
Subject: Testament to AWAD's advertising success

I am a longtime subscriber (13+ years now).

I was admiring the new design of the daily email the other day. For some reason when I looked at the sponsors' ads it dawned on me just how successful AWAD's advertising has been with me. Given that advertising is no doubt important to AWAD, I thought I would share my observation.

I believe AWAD is the single most successful online advertising source I frequent. Because of AWAD's ads, I've signed up for, purchased, or subscribed to: mental_floss magazine, KnowledgeNews newsletter, Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty, DelanceyPlace, "Think Better", and probably others I'm not recalling. I can't think of any other online advertising that has reached me so successfully.

Thanks for all the great work over the years.


No man has a prosperity so high or firm, but that two or three words can dishearten it; and there is no calamity which right words will not begin to redress. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

This week's theme
Metaphorical descriptions of people.

This week's words
paper tiger
loose cannon
sacred cow
tenderfoot
dark horse

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