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AWADmail Issue 682

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

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

I Feel Like We Say “I Feel Like” All the Time
The Stranger
WebCite

The Stereotypical Scottish ‘R’ Is Disappearing But It’s Not Necessarily a Bad Thing
Public Radio International
WebCite


From: Sylvia Bingham (sbandhb comcast.net)
Subject: Plutonian

Fun to see Plutonian as the word for the day! I was at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab for the New Horizons flyby of Pluto last week! Super exciting because I had been at the launch of New Horizons nine and a half years ago. At that time I stated a wish that I would be alive and alert when the space vehicle New Horizons passed Pluto and have been following the space vehicle all these years.

Two moments stand out: The first, when New Horizons reached the point closest to Pluto, Alan Stern, Principal Investigator in charge of every aspect of the encounter, led the crowd in the countdown (this moment was only 72 seconds off the predicted time!), and second, later that same day when we all learned that New Horizons had safely passed Pluto and headed on into outer space.

Sylvia Bingham, Lansdale, Pennsylvania


Email of the Week (Old’s Cool is old school with cheek - Buy it now before it’s too late!)

From: Paul D. VerNooy (paul.d.verNooy dupont.com)
Subject: A poem for Pluto

I wrote this back in 2006 when the issue of Pluto’s planethood first came up.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Planetoid

Twinkle, twinkle, planetoid
Out so far in inky void
Rocky core with ice encloaked
Your planethood has been revoked
The IAU struck a blow
To the cosmic status quo
They’re not quite sure of your fate
But it leaves us only eight
Was it that your orbit’s tilted
Why you were so rudely jilted?
Could it be your little tryst
With Neptune that’s got them pissed?
Despite the fact you have a moon
Your reputation they impugn
But take some comfort in their crime-
They’ll all be dead in one year’s time!*
Twinkle, twinkle, far from sun
So long for now, it’s been fun.

*One year on Pluto is 248 Earth years

Paul VerNooy, Hockessin, Delaware


From: Alexander Nix (revajnix yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--plutonian

I was interested to read that one of Pluto’s moons is called Nix / Nyx given that it is my surname as I am often asked what it means or where it comes from. I usually joke that it means nothing as in the colloquial nix for nothing presumably from the German ‘nichts’ although a more likely explanation is that it is just a shortening / corruption of Nixon / Nickson / Nickleson, etc.

Alexander Nix, Cambridge, UK


From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hydra

Today’s word “hydra” reminds me of that simple classic kids’ game called Whack-A-Mole where as soon as one plastic (or wooden) “mole” is hammered back down into its hole, another immediately pops up to the surface somewhere else on the game board. (I daresay, as hard an enterprise as trying to wrangle a “herd” of free-range feral cats. Ha!)

Apparently, the term “whack-a-mole” has crept into the lexicon, signifying an annoyingly repetitive, or futile task....much akin to the built-up frustration of trying to repeatedly lop off the instantly replaced severed heads of the mythic Hydra... until mighty Hercules came along, of course.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


From: Yitzhak Dar (yitzhakdar gmail.com)
Subject: Cerberus

You wrote: “Cerberus (also Kerberos)...”

The reason is that nobody knows how the ancient Greeks pronounced words with the letter C. It brings up a story from long ago. The speaker in Israel’s parliament was Yosef Sprincak (pronounced Shprintsak). When one of the members spoke about Cicero, pronouncing it Tsitsero, Sprincak, who was presiding, told him: It should be pronounced “kikero”. To which the speaker answered, “You are right, Mr. Shprinkak.”

Yitzhak Dar, Haifa, Israel


From: Conrad Balliet (cb45cb gmail.com)
Subject: nocturnal

Macaronic verse is poetry written in two languages. Carmen Possum (by anon) is a good example. It starts out:

The NOX was lit by lux of Luna,
And twas a nox most opportuna
To catch a possum or a coona;
For nix was scattered o’er this mundua.

Conrad Balliet, Yellow Springs, Ohio


From: Harvey A. Leve (harveyaleve aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--stygian

US Senator Eugene McCarthy (who was also a distinguished poet) spent his last years in a retirement home in Georgetown in Washington, and he wrote to a friend “I feel like I’m on a cruise ship on the River Styx. The line between assisted living and assisted dying is very thin.”

Harvey A. Leve, Bali, Indonesia


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

“If you marry a girl Aragonian
Your mood will turn dark and plutonian”
Said Henry the 8th
The Defender of Faith
“Now with young Anne Boleyn I shall throw me in.”

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

Hercules challenged the Hydra,
“You’re evil! I cannot abide ya!”
The beast tossed its heads,
which in unison said,
“If you tamper with me, woe betide ya!”

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

Our Cleo to dogs is a cerberus
To birds and to mice she’s a murderess
But curled up for naps
In a ball on our laps
If we pet her she’ll snuggle and purr for us.

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

Coaxed his nemesis, sweetly maternal,
“Come on, now. A little sunburn’ll
not harm you, my dear.”
“Oh, I’m sure you’re sincere,
but we vampires, you know, are nocturnal!”

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

Queen Dido, the first Carthaginian
Experienced moods that were stygian
Those raising her ire
She’d cast on a pyre
To carry them off to oblivion.

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


From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Puns on Words of the Week

Mickey’s devotion to his dogs was both Goofy and Plutonian.

Here comes that monster! Hydra women and children!

“If we take our vicious dog into that restaurant, I doubt they’ll cerberus.”

“Our tomcat nocturnally prowls, he also gets in fights.”

A Stygian time? Say “Nein!”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma


From: Velvet Jones (vjones1121 gmail.com)
Subject: Thank you

I wanted to personally say thank you for increasing my knowledge of words. I used to be a person who hated to read, because words made me nauseous, but now I love it! Thanks to you, Anu Garg!

Velvet Jones, Indianapolis, Indiana


A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Language is like money, without which specific relative values may well exist and be felt, but cannot be reduced to a common denominator. -George Santayana, philosopher (1863-1952)

Jul 26, 2015
This week’s theme
Words related to Pluto and its moons

This week’s words
plutonian
hydra
cerberus
nocturnal
stygian

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Next week’s theme
Words borrowed from Hebrew

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