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AWADmail Issue 591A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
From: Russell Brown (rbrown chass.utoronto.ca)
Subject: tumid prose
Your word of today, with its second citation, reminded me that when I was doing my grad studies in English (a long time ago), one of my favourite profs had three adjectives he liked to employ when he found the writing in our essays overwrought: tumid, turbid, and turgid.
Russell Brown, Toronto, Canada
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Hmm... curious that there's another shortish word starting with the letter "t" and ending in "d" that pretty much has the same meaning as our word for today ("tumid")... namely "turgid". As an adjective, it too suggests being physically swollen, or distended, usually from a superfluity of fluid, i.e., being bloated. It also carries the more abstract language style-related meaning, like "tumid", implying pomposity, bombast, or grandiloquence, as in "turgid prose".
Yet I wouldn't necessarily be that timid about opting for using "tumid", rather than "turgid". Anecdotally, one often stumbles on the adjective "turgid" in the steamy pages of over-wrought, dare I say tumid, erotic novels; as one would naturally expect, when passions are peaking, and various body parts (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) may be reaching their apex of "turgidity", as ardors rise, and pulses quicken. (Whew!... I think I might need a cold shower after THAT. HA!)
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California
From: Jay Watterworth (jaywatterworth comcast.net)
In teaching criminological theory, I tell my students the father of modern criminology, Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909), early in his career claimed he could tell what kind of a crimes a criminal committed by their physical features. This included "delicate faces, and tumid lips and eyelids" of rapists.
Jay Watterworth, Wheat Ridge, Colorado
From: Stephen L. Black (sblack ubishops.ca)
Some of your readers may be puzzled by the quotation from Thurber, "Hundreds of hysterical persons must confuse these phenomena with messages from the beyond and take their glory to the bishop rather than the eye doctor."
He is undoubtedly referring to Charles Bonnet syndrome, in which sufferers with severely limited vision experience repeated vivid and bizarre visual hallucinations. Thurber was himself a sufferer.
Stephen L. Black, Lennoxville, Canada
From: Monika Golightly (golight iafrica.com)
This word brought back a flood of memories. In the sixties I worked for a prominent law firm in Germany which represented a number of Germany's titled families, and whenever a male child was born to a duke or a count, particularly after a few mere girls, there was a flurry of activity to get all the paperwork updated to comply with the all-important Primogeniturordnung. It kept us busy for weeks. Thank you for keeping me entertained every day.
Monika Golightly, Hoedspruit, South Africa
From: Paul Forest (duzha aol.com)
Primogeniture derived from agrarian economies, unlike our modern urban economies where everything is in financial instruments or tangible personal property. The agrarian economy depended upon having enough land to make the property productive. When some countries did divide the land equally, the land could and sometimes did become a patchwork of small parcels, unable to effectively produce more than mere subsistence farming. With women having few, if any property rights, a common order of professions was as follow: first son, land owner, second son, military officer, third son priest or lawyer. Of course, not true in every western culture, but this was one of the ways that families and property co-existed.
Paul Forest, Elmira, New York
From: Linda Owens (lindafowens netzero.net)
Over twenty years ago, I taught art in our state prison for about a year, until the art programs were abolished for lack of funds, although state-mandated reading was still offered. Additionally, artists don't tend to form unions, like guards do. While I was still teaching there, I asked my students what they got out of my weaving classes. At first they said things like self-expression and something to do. Soon they revealed that they learned how to plan ahead, have patience, and stick with a project.
I also noticed that they learned social skills like showing up on time, getting along, and helping each other, if only a bit. They also liked making things they could give as gifts. I believe that all of these things helped prevent recidivism, along with family visits and counseling before and after release. BTW, in RI, at the time we had 71% recidivism. I like to think that if my former students spent only one night a week indoors working on an art project, their crime rate was down 10-20%.
Linda Owens, Exeter, Rhode Island
From: Cecelia Colson (cecelians q.com)
I worked for five years in Juvenile Detention, in the education department, here in Vancouver, WA, and saw many teenagers reappear time after time, after time.
As a humorous gesture to all the people who used the same copier as I, I typed out "Recidivism R Us", and put it above the copy machine. It was a hit. Sad but true. Thanks for all your enjoyable work.
Cecelia Colson, Vancouver, Washington
From: Satchit Bhogle (satchitb gmail.com)
The word autochthonous has a specific meaning in the context of constitutional law: an autochthonous constitution is one whose authority is found in one's own country. A revolutionary State can have an autochthonous constitution. India, however, was granted independence through an Act of the British Parliament. Therefore, the framers of the Indian constitution had to resort to the procedural error of repealing that Act which gave them authority; a small act of revolution which meant that India did not enjoy its Constitution merely at the pleasure of the British Parliament, but could proudly proclaim, "We, the people of India... give to ourselves this Constitution."
Satchit Bhogle, Mumbai, India
From: Henry Willis (hmw ssdslaw.com)
Orwell described a different, more serious version of your predicament:
"Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon one can neither resist nor understand."
I think your demon treats you fairly well, but there will always be days when work seems like . . . work.
Henry Willis, Los Angeles, California
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. -Nelson Mandela, activist, South African president, Nobel laureate (b. 1918)