Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


A.Word.A.Day

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  


Home

Today's Word

Yesterday's Word

Archives

FAQ


AWADmail Issue 674

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

Sponsor’s Message: Dadnabbit! We’re offering this week’s Email of the Week winner, Marvin Russell (see below), as well as all AWAD dads everywhere 10% off our Father’s Day gifts for the gifted. “Old’s Cool” UP-i-tee shirt sums up our philosophy of life in a nifty little turn of phrase -- old school with a shot of wry, served neat. How about: Indian Summer -- The Original American Motorcycle Movie. ONEUPMANSHIP, anyone? Nope, no ties. Use coupon code “dadtothebone”.


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

Scrabble Tells a Delightful Love Story Entirely in Anagrams
AdWeek
WebCite

Corrupting the Chinese Language
The New York Times
WebCite

National Spelling Bee Ends in a Tie
USA Today
WebCite


From: Mary Miller Boy (mary all-the-boys.de)
Subject: politesse

The Germans also use the word Politesse, which means “meter maid”, the woman who writes tickets for illegal parking or expired parking meters. They can be courteous when they slap the ticket on your car, but I have experienced some who are not.

Mary Miller Boy, Falkensee, Germany


From: Mary Damon (marymd21 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--politesse

Please do not say that French waiters are snooty. If you greet your waiter with “Bonjour” before you start ordering, you will find a very friendly and polite waiter. The French always greet one another before asking questions or making statements. Try it!

Mary Damon, Princeton, Illinois

Thanks for writing. You’re right -- stereotypes are not very helpful. We’ve removed the remark from the website now.
-Anu Garg


From: Dave Shelles (writesdave gmail.com)
Subject: politesse

In the song Sympathy for the Devil, Rolling Stones’ lead singer Mick Jagger croons “Use all of your well-learned politesse / Or I will lay your soul to waste.” As the song is sung from the standpoint of the devil, I doubt politesse will save one from damnation -- if you believe that sort of thing.

Dave Shelles, Cheyenne, Wyoming


From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Laissez-faire

The term is said to have originated from the debate between the mercantilist and the physiocratic schools in the French Age of Enlightenment. The latter, inspired by the writings of Quesnay and Turgot, argued against the protectionist principles that was the raison d’etre of Colbertism, named after the finance minister of Louis XIV. Mercantilism had been intended to bring maximum wealth to the Sun King’s absolutist regime by exploiting its colonies, e.g. New France, the forerunner of Quebec. The new economic theorists challenged this counter-productive practice.

The idea of laissez-faire, however, is nowadays mostly associated with the Scottish philosopher Adam Smith’s visionary work, The Wealth of Nations, whose spirit and intention are conveniently misinterpreted by today’s “superhuman” practitioners of the fine art of rapacity.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada


Email of the Week (Brought to you by ONEUPMANSHIP -- All of life’s lessons in a big, black box.)

From: Marvin Russell (russasm aol.com)
Subject: de rigueur

During the carnival season in New Orleans, personal invitations are sent for the various bals masques as they present their courts and tableau. For those deemed the old line or debutante (white gown) balls, invitations invariably remind one and all of Costume de Rigueur. The required dress is a floor-length gown for the ladies and white tie with tails for the gentlemen. Those who lack etiquette and fail to adhere to the customary fashion are denied admission for their faux pas.

Marvin Russell, New Orleans, Louisiana


From: John Richardson (rubrick.illumus gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--laissez-aller

I was really pleased to read today that the example for usage of this word (and for de rigueur earlier this week) comes from my favourite newspaper, The Irish Times, published daily in my home city of Dublin. I’ve been reading it regularly for more than 30 years since I was a teenager and one of the many reasons I, and many others besides me, enjoy it so much is for its rich use of vocabulary and wordplay. Your examples show that it is not just the journalists and reporters who enrich their reportage with such words but also the sports writers and reviewers. Indeed, some of the regular sports writers are eagerly followed for their imaginative and amusing use of high-brow words to describe events from the previous day or weekend. The Irish Times is the newspaper where Flann O’Brien first rose to fame writing his (in)famous column which continues to inspire the current contributors who follow in his style. I often find myself reaching for the dictionary to search for an explanation of a new word I am impressed to first read in that newspaper and I am indebted to them for instilling in me a love of words and well-rounded prose. I look forward to seeing more quotations from their pages (as I have done over the past few years) in your daily emails and thank you for including them so often.

John Richardson, Bremen, Germany


From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: limericks

“Ooh,” cooed the mogul’s maîtresse
With a simper of faux politesse,
After spilling pea soup
With an elegant swoop
On the duke in the captain’s last mess.

-Laurence McGilvery, La Jolla, California (laurence mcgilvery.com)

In business we think laissez-faire
Would soon rescue the world from despair
The proper solution
Is smoke and pollution
We can’t afford breathable air.

-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

If practice is thought de rigueur
Then to Ireland I’d go, as it were
I’d head for the green
And find a colleen
And I’d take all my lessons from her.

-Bob Thompson, New Plymouth, New Zealand (bobtee xtra.co.nz)

In rating this new restaurant,
says critic, renowned bon vivant,
“Top notch it is not,
but with this caveat,
one might call it gourmet soi-disant.”

-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

When kids go to college they say,
Some sample sweet laissez-aller,
A once mild child,
Would rebel, go wild,
And rather than study, they play.

-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)


From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Puns on words of the week

A couple wanted their daughter to be courteous so they named her Paula Tess.

When asked how his team would do without him the coach replied, “Laissez-faire”.

“Surrey, Curly, but de rigueur wanting was needed by someone else.”

“Soi-disant Margaret go by ‘Peggy’?” asked her niece.

“You want me to undress you? How laissez aller are you, anyway?”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma


A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
In words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker. -Plutarch, biographer and philosopher (circa 46-120)

May 31, 2015
This week’s theme
Terms borrowed from French

This week’s words
politesse
laissez-faire
de rigueur
soi-disant
laissez-aller

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives
Index

Next week’s theme
There is a word for it

Send a gift that
keeps on giving,
all year long:
A gift subscription of AWAD
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2017 Wordsmith