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AWADmail Issue 532A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Tidbits about Words and Language
This week's Email of the Week is from Sarah Lyon (see below), who will get to choose an Uppityshirt, and there's a heck of a selection.
From: Darlene R. Ketten (dketten whoi.edu)
Clearly, the fellow with the sign is "possessed".
Darlene R. Ketten, Boston, Massachusetts
From: Emanuela Ughi (ughi dipmat.unipg.it)
In Italian it corresponds to "zampe di gallina" = "hen's feet".
Emanuela Ughi, Perugia, Italy
From: Claude Généreux (CGenereux cupe.ca)
Ah! Languages. I'm a Francophone. When I take French leave most of your readers take the equivalent English leave (in French). Oddly enough we often resort to different animals to describe the same phenomenon. In today's case (aging showing at the outer edge of our eyes), we refer to geese as in "goose's feet" instead of your crow. Seems to me that they leave quite a different footprint. I'll take your crow for my (not golden) goose.
Claude Généreux, Montreal, Canada
From: Heber R. Da Cruz (HeberRdaCruz gmail.com)
Curiously, in Brazil pés-de-galinha "chicken's feet" has the same meaning.
Heber R. Da Cruz, Maceió, Brazil
From: Henrik Nielsen (hsnielsen hn-metrology.com)
The Danish term for crow's feet is somewhat more gentle and puts a more positive spin on it. The term is smilerynker, literally smiling wrinkles. You get them from a long life, where you have lived and laughed.
Crow's feet, on the other hand, kragetŠer, literally crow's toes, is handwriting like mine that is uneven and hard to decipher and looks like the tracks left in the snow by birds hopping about.
Henrik Nielsen, Indianapolis, Indiana
From: Agneta Sandelin (mail asandelin.com)
In my language - Swedish - this expression is used for handwriting that is almost illegible, a child's (or a doctor's).
Agneta Sandelin, Stockholm, Sweden
In English, that sort of handwriting is called "chicken scratch".
From: Marvin Berkson (bingo1939 sbcglobal.net)
Years ago when our granddaughter, Samantha, was about four years old, she sat on my wife's lap and was gently rubbing my wife's face, around her eyes and accompanying crow's feet. Samantha lovingly said, "Grandma, I love your pleats."
Marvin Berkson, Foster City, California
From: Lawrence Schweitzer (Poptyrone aol.com)
As an orthopedic surgeon, I cannot let pass this opportunity to mention, for the record, the bird part, dear to my specialty. It's the pes anserinus, or goose's foot. Located just below the knee, this structure represents the confluence of three tendons, likened to the three-toed configuration of a goose foot. A nearby bursa (sac) can become inflamed causing the painful pes anserine bursitis.
Lawrence Schweitzer, MD, Danbury, Connecticut
From: Joe Dorrance (jdorrancejr msn.com)
A crow's foot is also the mark a carpenter uses to mark his measuring tape, you start the mark at the correct measurement on the tape and angle it slightly to the left and a second mark angles slightly to the right. Looks like a crow's foot.
Joe Dorrance, Parker, Colorado
From: Joe DiFernando (joe difernando.net)
Crow's feet (plural of crow's foot) is also a term in the American English tradesman's vernacular for an open-end socket wrench attachment (images) that can get the job done in tight work areas where a regular wrench or socket just won't do!
Joe DiFernando, Norfolk, Virginia
From: Ken Kirste (kkkirste sbcglobal.net)
Within the conventions of comic book lettering, crow's feet describes the marks used to indicate a human sound that accompanies the in-taking or expelling of air. Also called breath marks, they are usually three small dashes stacked vertically (and at slight angles) on each side of the sound that the character is making (such as a whew, gasp!, cough, sputter). Here's a panel from the "Silk Spectre" comic book showing the use of crow's feet in a dialog balloon.
Ken Kirste, Sunnyvale, California
From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Unblocking writer's block, according the lexicographer and essayist Samuel Johnson: "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."
This adage was also used as the opening line of the celebrated 1949 movie Kind Hearts and Coronets in which the redoubtable Alec Guinness multitasked no fewer than eight roles, one of them a woman. As the convicted serial killer, played by Dennis Price, awaits sentencing, he sets out to write an account of how he contrived to inherit the fortune of his wicked relatives.
Then he receives the happy news: because of insufficient evidence, he is found not guilty. Only after leaving the jail does he realize to his utter dismay that he had left behind the manuscript of his written confession, the memoir he was working on for the preceding two weeks which contained a detailed description of his murderous campaign.
Sometimes it's better to be blocked than to be led to the block (or in this case, gallows).
Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada
From: Rudy Chelminski (rudychel gmail.com)
On the subject of writer's block, Rossini was indeed a speed composer. It is said that for the very lively La Pie Voleuse (The Thieving Magpie), his impresario locked him in his room 24 hours before the time of the opening and Rossini wrote the overture page by page, throwing the completed sheets out the window for his copyists to decipher and pass on for the orchestra to rehearse.
Rudy Chelminski, Fontainebleau, France
From: Sarah Lyon (slyon sewickley.org)
If this message earns the title: Email of the Week, does that mean I win A Post Trophy?
Sarah Lyon, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
From: Betty Feinberg (bgfeinberg cox.net)
It's not just apostrophes that sneak in where they don't belong. Visiting a college in West Virginia, which I had attended for a couple of years many years earlier, I saw a sign at the entrance to a parking lot that read "FACULTY" PARKING ONLY. I really hadn't thought when I was there that the faculty deserved such dismissive treatment.
Betty Feinberg, Tucson, Arizona
From: Toby Freeman (tobyfreeman.11 gmail.com)
The T-shirt company 'redmolotov' has an excellent design for the Apostrophe Protection Society which I wear proudly.
Toby Freeman, London, UK
From: Steve Kirkpatrick, DDS (stevekirkp comcast.net)
Many medical eponyms originally had an apostrophe. Several decades ago, most of those were dropped. Down's Syndrome became Down Syndrome. Some retain the possessive, especially in common usage. The terms Parkinson's and Parkinson's Disease persist, even on parkinson.org. However, in medical literature, I suspect that the most punctilious authors avoid that punctuation, making it Parkinson Disease.
Stephen Kirkpatrick, DDS, Olympia, Washington
From: Nils Andersson (Nilsphone aol.com)
Much worse is when you lose whether the possessor is singular or plural, because you can no longer trust that the writer knows the difference between "boy's" and "boys'". A particularly obnoxious example: I used to live in Ventura County, California. There were several signs such as in front of a liquor store: "Ventura counties largest selection of wines". One wondered how many counties there were in Ventura. My granddaughter in Henderson, Nevada, came home with a booklet where it said that "Obama is this countries current president."
Nils Andersson, Las Vegas, Nevada
From: Sue Frank-Gass (sfrank2 cfl.rr.com)
Years ago while working on humorous epitaphs in my English class, I wrote this one about myself:
Here lies Sue,
Sue Frank-Gass, Titusville, Florida
From: David Russinoff (russinoff yahoo.com)
Here's another one for you. (photo)
David Russinoff, Austin, Texas
From: Janice Larson (janlarson charter.net)
Love your intro to this week's words -- or should I say this weeks word's?
Janice Larson, Asheville, North Carolina
From: Betsy Habich (E.Habich verizon.net)
In addition to net conservation of apostrophes documented in the AWAD of September 3, I've noticed that here in the Boston area, we often practice net conservation of 'r's.
Betsy Habich, North Reading, Massachusetts
From: Elizabeth Buchen (esbuchen gmail.com)
Elizabeth Buchen, Albuquerque, New Mexico
From: Victoria Daskalova (victoria.daskalova gmail.com)
I could perhaps shed some light on the confusing use of the apostrophe in the poster. I live in the Netherlands and have had my fair share of struggles with the language of these lands. One grammatical peculiarity of the Dutch language is that in some cases you use "apostrophe + s" to form plurals (though most of the times you just add "en" or "s" to form the plural).
Here are some examples:
een pinda - pinda's (peanut, peanuts)
Perhaps the author of the poster was a Dutch speaker -- from the Netherlands, from Suriname, from the Netherlands Antilles, or from the Flemish-speaking parts of Belgium.
Victoria Daskalova, Tilburg, The Netherlands
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:Our expression and our words never coincide, which is why the animals don't understand us. -Malcolm De Chazal, writer and painter (1902-1981)