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AWADmail Issue 628

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language

Sponsor's message: It's Officially Huge. This week's Email of the Week winner, Burt Humburg (see below) -- as well as all AWADers worldwide -- can now make their own terrific fun word-nerd party for nothing. Introducing our best-selling One Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Word Game as a free PDF download, absolutely gratis. Hurree y'up.

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

CIA's Manual of Style

The Words of the World Cup
The New York Times

Kremlin Bans Swear Words

From: William Stanley (valcouns earthlink.net)
Subject: Non-smear words

Of course, it's also the way you say these words, strong emphasis on the "dirty-sounding" parts, HOR-(ta-to-ry), pausing to let it sink in, perhaps showing reluctance to share this awful secret with your audience, saying it snidely to share your audience's disgust, all speakers' art.

William Stanley, Issaquah, Washington

From: Elizabeth Hannan (skywayliz gmail.com)
Subject: Non-Slanderous Political Speech

That reminded me that when the Editor of our county paper (Dan Hicks, now deceased) decided to run for some office, years ago, he ran an ad in his Monroe County Advocate & Democrat (Sweetwater, Tennessee) stating his opponent was a well-known Homo sapiens.

We often wondered how many didn't get it.

Elizabeth Hannan, Tellico Plains, Tennessee

From: William G. Jeff Davis (wgd1350 comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hortatory

And the "hortatory" was the man who ordered the slave rowers in a Roman galley to row faster or slower. See the movie Ben Hur (video, 4.5 min.) for a superb example.

William G. Jeff Davis, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Email of the Week (Brought to you by One Up! -- with our compliments.)

From: Burt Humburg (humburg.burt gmail.com)
Subject: Congressional testimony on hortatory!

Do you recall the time when Lurita Doan, a Bush appointee, who got into trouble by using official work time in her General Services Administration to push the Republican party's campaigns. According to the Wikipedia page on her:

Investigators state that the Hatch Act may have been broken when the question "How can we help our candidates?" was allegedly asked by Lurita Doan, according to a few unidentified witnesses at the meeting. The Hatch Act states that federal resources may not be used for partisan politics. The Office of Special Counsel investigated Hatch Act questions at GSA.

A congressional hearing was held in which Ms Doan was made to answer for her actions. In response, she provided what was one of the more remarkable defenses I've ever heard of a congressional witness. (video, 1.5 min.) Mr. Sarbanes, whose mother is a Latin teacher, is seen in this video providing some correction to Ms Doan about the use of the hortatory subjunctive.

The defense didn't work so well and Ms Doan soon resigned.

Burt Humburg, Mason City, Iowa

From: Linda Stumbaugh (peregrineindexing gmail.com)
Subject: formicate

Oh! This is one of my favorite words. There is a saying that goes with it: "Formication is a group activity."

Linda Stumbaugh, Sequim, Washington

From: Ellen Blackstone (ellen 123imagine.net)
Subject: Formicate -- birds do it, too!

Birds formicate, too. It's a kind of avian spa treatment. Check out this BirdNote show about it. Here's a photo.

Ellen Blackstone, Seattle, Washington

From: Michael Anderson (michael evanstongroup.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--formicate

Robert Frost's jocular poem Departmental (video, 2 min.) tells the story of the death of an ant, a "selfless forager, Jerry", and the soulless but efficient way his body is dispatched. In the course of the narrative we learn that ants have their own language, the name of which derives from today's word.

Michael Anderson, Evanston, Illinois

From: Bimal Pradhan (totheoneandonly gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--formicate

As horticulture students we had entomology as a course in which we were introduced to various species of agricultural pests. Ants were very common on the campus and being bitten one too many times, I remember I was all attention when in one such class the professor introduced us to formic acid, a chemical present in ant venom which causes the pain, irritation, and swelling.

In fact, I just dug a little deeper and found Formicidae, Formicinae, Forminicini, and Formica denotes the family, subfamily, tribe, and genus -- all denoting the ant family.

Never did make the connection earlier while in college -- also never looked into word meanings so enthusiastically earlier.

Bimal Pradhan, Mumbai, India

From: Peirce Hammond (peirceiii yahoo.com)
Subject: Kubler-Ross on stained glass and humans

Today's thought was a quotation from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross comparing humans and stained glass:

"People are like stained glass windows: they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within."

That is a comparison I like reflecting on. My own panes are often cracked, missing, mid-aligned, or stained (green with jealousy, yellow with cowardice, red with anger, etc.). My life's work is to find ways to straighten and cleanse the pains so that light may enter my inner life less distorted by my perceptual apparatus and may be clearly seen by others as my own inner light shines outward, however feebly.

I don't totally agree with Leonard Cohen that the light gets in through our inevitable cracks ("There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."), because our inner light comes from deeper sources, but I accept his admonition (using a different wavelength metaphor) to "ring the bells that still can ring".

Peirce Hammond, Bethesda, Maryland

From: James McTernan (jamesmct comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--assonance

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Eustace insults the Pevensie siblings about their Narnia fantasies with a poem. When Lucy complains that it doesn't rhyme, he smugly explains it's an assonance. Edmund tells his sister, "Don't ask him what an assy-thingummy is. He's only longing to be asked."

That zinger inspired me to learn the meaning of the word, and started an interest in poetry that has lasted my whole life.

James McTernan, Bellevue, Washington

From: Daniel Kopti (saybrook78 yahoo.com)
Subject: Inspissate

When the Great War ended, Colonel T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia fame) attended Jesus College at Oxford. One evening, Lawrence encountered Professor Edgeworth and mentioned that he was just returning from London. The Professor was known for avoiding conversational English, and for persistently using words and phrases found only in books (or in A.Word.A.Day). Here is their conversation (according to Robert Graves, in his book Good-bye to All That:

Edgeworth: "Was it very caliginous in the metropolis?"
Lawrence: "Somewhat caliginous, but not altogether inspissated."

Daniel Kopti, Los Angeles, California

From: George Oberst (mail.gso gmail.com)
Subject: Formicate

I discovered this word by doing stonework. Sometimes in tearing out an old wall to repair, one can be formicated. When that happens you can easily smell the sharp tang that angry ants emit. It's the scent of formic acid, which is named after ants. So, is the plastic counter-top laminate "Formica" made with formic acid? Nope -- its first use was to replace sheets of mined mica in circuit boards and the like. It was used "for mica" and thus the name. Also in stone work or other masonry, a structure built with arches or arched vaulting may be said to be "for-icated" but with "n" after the "r". It got applied to illicit activities because in old Rome, ladies of the evening peddled themselves in an area with vaults and arches.

George Oberst, Berea, Kentucky

From: Peter V. Weston, MD (pviw att.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--formicate

The noun formication is a medical term describing a tactile hallucination involving the belief that something is crawling on the body or under the skin. It can be associated with large doses of some recreational drugs. My students often snicker when the term is discussed.

Peter V. Weston, MD, Houston, Texas

From: Steve Price (sdprice510 mac.com)
Subject: cocker

"Cocker" is also a Yiddish word for "feces". It appears in the phrase "alter cocker", used with affection or exasperation as the equivalent of "old fart".

Steve Price, New York, New York

From: Joan Perrin (perrinjoan aol.com)
Subject: Cocker

My sister had a cocker spaniel named Sunshine. She was longer than she was tall, so she might have had some dachshund in her. In her memory, I wrote the following poem:

I had a doggie named Docker,
So spoiled, when I would walk her,
As the spaniel got older,
"Bark, carry me" got bolder,
For she was an alter cocker.

Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, NY

from: Michael L. Edwards (medwards zianet.com)
Subject: Words that sound dirty

Reminds me of a banner headline in our student newspaper The Paper at Michigan State University in the late '60s, regarding the University president, John Hannah. "Hannah Revealed to be Palindrome!"

Michael L. Edwards, Las Cruces, New Mexico

From: Tom Hawley (t.hawley comcast.net)
Subject: this week's theme

I recall hearing of the politician, or maybe religious fanatic, talking about the sins going on in co-educational higher education. He said boys and girls are even matriculating together.

Tom Hawley, Lansing, Michigan

From: Mike Stahl (yofoureyes msn.com)
Subject: This Week's AWAD Theme

I didn't even have to check what this week's theme was, before my mind went straight into the gutter, upon seeing the first WOTD for this week.

Well, actually, I can't even remember when my mind was ever OUT of the gutter...

Mike Stahl, Seattle, Washington

From: Marc Williams (msw60223 gmail.com)
Subject: Theme

I love the theme this week. It reminds me of a mock election in high school where I 'slandered' my opponent by stating that he masticated his food and micturated several times a day.

Marc Williams, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania

From: Irving N. Webster-Berlin (awadreviewsongs gmail.com)
Subject: Song based on this week's words

Here are this week's AWAD Review Songs (words and recordings) for your listening and viewing pleasure.

Irving N. Webster-Berlin, Sacramento, California

A language is a dialect that has an army and a navy. -Max Weinreich, linguist and author (1894-1969)

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