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AWADmail Issue 67

February 12, 2002

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages


From: Mike Crosbie (paeditorATaol.com)
Subject:Re: A.Word.A.Day--hotsy-totsy

The mention of heebie-jeebies reminded me of a comment that the writer James Thurber once made in a letter to his fellow New Yorker contributor E.B. White, that if people went wild for White's writing and that of George Bernard Shaw, they would have the "E.B. G.B.s".


From: Doug Moeller (dougmoeATaol.com)
Subject: Re: Toponyms

Location, location, location...
Epidemiologists in recent years occasionally name diseases after the location of the first reported case. Lyme Disease (Lyme, Connecticut) is a spirochete (Borrelia) transmitted by the deer tick; Coxsackie Disease (Cocksackie, NY), a rickettsial illness; Pontiac Fever (Pontiac, Michigan) turned out to be Legionnaire's Disease (after the American Legion convention held in Philadelphia, where everyone became ill).


From: Ellison Goodall (brideyrevisitedATaol.com)
Subject: page from a travel brochure for the toponymically-inclined

"No, no, go not to Lethe,..." nor the doldrums if you're looking for high adventure and an unforgettable experience. For your peregrinations, look to us as your Rosetta Stone for exception travel tips. This week's recommendation: Shangri-la for that perfect get-away. And this week's planning tip: if your dates are not flexible, do not cross the Rubicon en route to your destination; no amount of Blarney will let you out of your commitment after that point. Happy Travels!


From: Cindy L. Prichard (kinderfrogATaol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--chautauqua

Chautauqua has been one of my favorite words since I was very little. I was born in Chautauqua County, New York. My grandfather thought that "Chautauqua" had a rhythm to it (chAU -- tAU -- qUA ). He taught me to spell it when I was two years old. The original Indian word means bag tied in the middle. Lake Chautauqua rather looks like a bag tied in the middle.


From: Camille Trentacoste (nycamilletATaol.com)
Subject: Gibraltar and its material makeup

In a message dated 2/6/02, wsmith@wordsmith.org writes:
"And it could, at long last, rattle Gibraltar. After all, it's only made of clay."
John Carman, Rivals Chip Away At NBC's Gibraltar / Thursday Night Lineup Isn't What it Used to Be, The San Francisco Chronicle, Oct 12, 2000.

This quote is actually a play on the lyrics of the song Our Love is Here to Stay by George and Ira Gershwin. The relevant verse is as follows:

In time the Rockies may crumble
Gibraltar may tumble
They're only made of clay
But our love is here to stay

Another trivia note about Gibraltar from the Internet Movie Database:

"His real name was Roy Scherer, but talent scout Henry Wilson invented a new name for his protégé by combining the Rock of Gibraltar and the Hudson River."


From: Eliza Sproat (sproateAToclc.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Gibraltar

What might also be of interest is the literal meaning of the word, coming from Arabic, meaning: The rock (jebel) of (al) Tarik, or Tarik's rock.

Actually, this seems to be an authoritative web site: www.gibraltar.gi.


From: Walter L. Bazzini (wbazziniATatt.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--kilkenny

Can't help but wonder if it's mere coincidence, or typical tongue-in-cheek South Park humor, that the poor kid who is killed in every episode is named "Kenny".


From: Nicholas Wood (nickbeeATfuse.net)
Subject: Norman Einstein

Quotation from AWAD, Feb 8, 2002:
Nobody in the game of football should be called a genius. A genius is somebody like Norman Einstein. -Joe Theismann, Former quarterback

This quote which is rightly attributed to Joe Theismann has an even more humorous explanation.

It turns out that Theismann went to high school with Norman Einstein and he was the class valedictorian. This was verified by Sports Illustrated some years back which ran Einstein's yearbook picture with the story.

So, when Theismann says, "He's no Norman Einstein", he means the same thing as we do when we say, "He's no Albert Einstein." How are we to know this?

Well, apparently Joe Theismann is no Norman Einstein.


From: Roland Moss (t-roATlycos.com)
Subject: "till"

I enjoy Word-A-day. Am I old-fashioned? Has "till" become acceptable as a shortened "until"? It rubs against my schooling in England. (See Killkenny Cats).

    "Till" is not a shortened form of "until". In fact, "until" is an expanded form of "till". "Till" is the older of the two and "until" was formed by adding the prefix un- to it. They are synonymous and mostly interchangeable. Here's a quick reference on acceptability of various forms:

    till : OK
    until : OK
    'till : Not OK
    'til : Maybe OK (only in informal writing)

    Well, schoolteachers are only human. To see more instances where what you learnt in school isn't always right, see the discussion of "dilemna" in AWADmail 39. -Anu


From: Mark Conacher (the.conachersATrogers.com)
Subject: Mondegreens

Thanks for highlighting this word in your 'Facts and Arguments' feature in today's Globe and Mail.

One of the more amusing mondegreens of which I'm aware relates to the title of Malachy McCourt's autobiography. Malachy is the brother of Frank McCourt and features prominently in McCourt's autobiography 'Angela's Ashes'.

Malachy entitled his book, 'A Monk Swimming'. In the book he explains the origin of the phrase as being his mis-hearing the 'Hail Mary' when a young lad; the relevant phrase being, "blessed are you amongst women."

    Thanks, Mark! For those who haven't seen the story, it's available at Globe and Mail Web site. -Anu


From: Alexandra Baer (abaer1111ATaol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hangdog

The word hangdog is now commonly used in the rock climbing world. If you climb a route but hang on the rope a lot instead of climbing it "clean," then you're accused of hangdogging the route. Climbing is now full of very interesting words that describe the exact combination of moves a climber does to attain the top of a route. I've sent the great gift of wordsmith to all my friends and we talk about the daily word up at the cliffs. Think of it as higher education.


From: David Darrow (darrowdATimmunex.com)
Subject: Comic attached

Check out this comic.

It should be captioned:
How to tell your boss reads A Word A Day.


Words are timeless. You should utter them or write them with a knowledge of their timelessness. -Kahlil Gibran, mystic, poet, and artist (1883-1931)

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