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AWADmail Issue 716

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: Duovicennial wordplay party

Thanks to everyone who took part in our virtual duovicennial wordplay party. Examples you sent were creative, humorous, clever, and everything in between. Here are the winning entries. They receive their choice of a signed copy of any of my books, the word game One Up!, or the T-shirt AWAD to the wise is sufficient.


I opened up my bookmarks on my phone and stumbled upon a bit of a rebus. This digital example is in stark contrast to my experiences many years ago of solving them in children’s print magazines. Some rearranging was required, but it seems fitting in today’s technologically saturated age.
-Adam Moreno, Ocala, Florida (aamoren3 asu.edu)


It’s a calligram I made in 1993. Calligrams are favorite pastimes of calligraphers!
-Jeanne McMenemy, Walla Walla, Washington (jeannemc charter.net)


What do you read above? An English speaker reads HAND. A Spanish speaker reads MANO.
-José Luis Palacios, Albuquerque, New Mexico (jopalal gmail.com)


Pangrams are the zany, jolly, quirky sets of words boxed in creativity.
-Suzanne Heymann, Nanaimo, Canada (s.heymann live.ca)


-Jerry Lightfoot, Dallas, Texas (jjfoot tx.rr.com)

Honorable mentions


“Would you be my valentine?”
-Mark J. Blechner, New York, New York (mark markblechner.com)

For several years, my sister and I enjoyed weekly phone chats on Friday mornings. Over time, her bright greeting of “Happy Friday!” morphed, in the customary manner of sibling-speak, into “Happy Fried egg!” At some point, we switched to Thursday mornings. Then one day, she sent an email, “Can’t make Thursday. Can we catch up on another day?” My reply was this rebus.
-Keelin, Napa, California (p.keelin ix.netcom.com)

I love playing with words this way as I tend to think in pictures more than words, so here is my entry.
-Tonia Whittaker, Haslett, Michigan (whittsey1 aol.com)

This example is one I saw at the recent Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, Virginia.
-Jennifer Laubenthal, Midlothian, Virginia (mjrhooligan aim.com)


I found this little drawing in the back of a classroom in elementary school. I didn’t create it, but I have kept it with me for over 40 years :-). I think this little drawing is of a cab driver with a hat on!
-Wayne Marble, Bullard, Texas (waynemarble mac.com)

There is an animated TV series called Word World where all the characters are ‘live’ calligrams. It’s a brilliant show, highly recommend to all pre-schoolers for learning basic spelling.
-Annette Sabor, Auckland, New Zealand (annette mhinteractive.co.nz)

The Altar and Easter Wings by George Herbert are two fine examples of a calligram.
-Michael Sharman, Ilkley, UK (jmsharman btinternet.com)

Look what coincidentally showed up on my Facebook timeline today! “42 Clever Calligrams that Visualise the Meanings of Various Words”
-Aarefa Johari, Mumbai, India (aarefajohari gmail.com)

The shape of Michigan’s two peninsulas defined by the five Great Lakes in Calligrams -- found on T-shirts in a Saugatuck shop at the shore of Lake Michigan.
-Sadie Bauer, Battle Creek, Michigan (sadiebauer comcast.net)

A favorite calligram is Kitty and Bug by John Hollander.
-Mark Engel, Ben Lomond, California (mark.engel1 mac.com)


Original ambigram “honey” I created in MS-Paint.
-Anupam Das, Kolkata, India (eanupamdas gmail.com)

My brother was production illustrator on the David Lynch film, Dune. At one point they had no logo and he contacted me to provide one for them. This was used for a while but unfortunately not for the film’s release. (image)
-Tom Miller, Cincinnati, Ohio (tomiller atomicart.com)

I’m sure I learned this concept from A.Word.A.Day a few years back. This is my cheeky rendition of my first name.
-Jim Hartmann, Minneapolis, Minnesota (butzodaddy gmail.com)

Our family loves ambigrams! I was introduced to ambigrams many years ago by my mathematician husband who does magic on the side, which officially makes him a “mathemagician.” Scott Kim, puzzler and ambigram maker extraordinaire, made this ambigram for my husband.
-Deena Benjamin, Claremont, California (deenarbenjamin gmail.com)

My email address is 7714909. Upside down it’s bobhiLL. Is that considered an ambigram? My daughter envisioned this.
-Bob Hill, Austin, Texas (7714909 gmail.com)

When I was in primary school back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the land, writing out the numbers 7734 was a method of skirting the rules against the use of profanity. It always brought titters of mirth from my eight-year-old cohort.
-Eric Marchbein, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (emarch333 verizon.net)

Here’s my take on ambigrams: Among the many attractions of San Diego, where I am fortunate enough to live, are our zoo and wild animal park. Since January 1925 the magazine published by our zoological society has been titled ZOONOOZ.
-Richard Lederer, San Diego, California (richard.lederer pobox.com)

As an infant, my daughter had horrible colic and would cry for hours every evening. One night when I was pacing with her in the nursery by her mirror, I caught the image of a frazzled new mom failing to soothe her wailing infant and my daughter’s reflected name (in all capital letters) hanging as our backdrop in pink bubble letters: I MOAN. Side note: she grew out of the colic and into a phenomenal, magical child!
-Doree H Green, Yorktown Heights, New York (doree.green verizon.com)

My birth-date ambigram 09/11/60 reads the same from both directions.
-Bernie Deitrick, New York, New York (bdeitrick consumer.org)

PANGRAM Many took the quiz, but predictably, just a few experts got all the answers correct.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

I’m a dietitian, so I manufactured one that posed a real question, considering that one definition of fruit is that it contains a seed to propagate a new generation:
By Jove, quizzical and vexed like me, whether a seedless grape is a fruit?
-Glenn Cardwell, Bentley DC, Australia (glenn glenncardwell.com)

Why, Ava, Netflix zombie pics do require joking!
Jeb made vile, zany, puckish requests, coaxing few.
-Jeannette Anderson (via online comments)

Many years ago some copywriter friends of mine set out to create the shortest pangram possible. It had to be shorter than “The Quick Brown Fox etc.” at 33 letters. They couldn’t do it, but they came close. Here’s what they came up with: Few zany quips vex the morbid black judge.
-Alan Shearman, Los Angeles, California (shearmania aol.com)

Here are some I came up with a few years back after reading the delightful Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn, in which pangrams figure muchly.
The quivering zebra waxed floors with Jacky’s mop.
What Jack’s pony faxed calmed the quivering zebra.
Zeb’s happy cow gave quarts of jinxed milk.
-Valerie Anne Bost, Moscow, Idaho (via website comments)

Here’s mine: Quixotic wizard given fake lymph jabs!
-Hasyim Tan, Singapore (hasyim_tan hotmail.com)

The foxy black wizard quips rhyming jive.
-Rose Strain, Wellington, Florida (rosestrain aol.com)

Here’s a variation I made up: a sentence, each word of which starts with a letter of the alphabet, from A to Z, in that order:
A brilliant calligrapher deeming every font great, hence in jest, kept list, mostly nonsensical, of particularly quaint readings, something to, upon very wintry Xmases, yearly, zip.
-Zend Lakdavala, Las Vegas, Nevada (zocrateszend yahoo.com)

Ms. Giraffe’s ex purportedly loved her, yet he just wouldn’t kick bragging on his conquest in the Azores.
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw37 gmail.com)

This one comes from the 1950s when I was taught touch typing:
“Dexterity in the vocation of typing can only be acquired from judicious exercise and zealous work.”
It used to drive me mad: “from” should be “by”, but that breaks it!
-Bill Venables, Dutton Park, Australia (bill.venables gmail.com)

On the main thoroughfare in the holy Iranian city of Qum, an annoying nerd ogles the women in their brightly flowered calico burkas -- leading to this perfect pangram:
Jerk gawps foxy Qum Blvd chintz.
-Tim Carr, Atlanta, Georgia (carrfamily mindspring.com)

The wizard forgave the jinxed polka mob quiescently.
-Stanley Nowakowski, Cranford, New Jersey (stanleymnj yahoo.com)


One of my favourite examples of an acrostic is in a story told by the writer Selden Rodman (in his book about the Caribbean). There was a dictator in the Dominican Republic, Raphael Trujillo, who was assassinated in 1961 after a long and brutal reign. The newspapers were filled with odes and eulogies, but one of these contained a hidden message -- an acrostic. The first letter of each line, read from top to bottom, formed the words, “Asesino y ladron” (murderer and thief).
-Carl Rosenberg, Vancouver, Canada (rosenberg.carl yahoo.ca)

Lewis Carroll’s book “Through the Looking-Glass” ends with a poem that is an acrostic. It spells out Alice Pleasance Liddell, the whole name of the Alice the books were written for.
-Lawrence Wallin, Santa Barbara, California (Lawrencewallin gmail.com)

My favourite example of an acrostic is found in Douglas Hofstadter’s book Gödel, Escher, Bach. One chapter forms an acrostic, the solution to which is the sentence “Hofstadter’s Contracrostipunctus Acrostic Backwards Spells J.S.Bach”, which, as you can see, describes what it does when treated as a further acrostic.
-Ian Gordon, Surrey, UK (awad ipgordon.me.uk)

In the Jewish liturgy, many Hebrew prayers are spelled with acrostic. Often, author’s name, or alphabet (one, has one letter of the Hebrew alphabet missing. THUS, questions as to “why?”)
-Rabbi Samuel B. Press, Dayton, Ohio (spress woh.rr.com)

From: Marek Boym (marekboym walla.com)
Subject: Rebus

As is my wont, the first thing I did after turning on my computer was to look up the new word. I love it! Happy duovicennial.

While I have never before encountered “rebus” in English, I remember it as being commonly used in Polish. Even when I was still a child there I used to solve them in my children’s weekly! Ah, memories, memories!

Marek Boym, Raanana, Israel

From: Stafford Linsley (staffordlinsley gmail.com)
Subject: 22 Bingo game callers in the UK call ‘Two little Ducks’ for 22, and the game-players’ response is, predictably, ‘Quack Quack’.

Stafford M Linsley, Seaham, UK

From: Claudine Voelcker (claudine.voelcker googlemail.com)
Subject: Rebus

This word brought back the memory of Le Petit Train Rébus (video, 3 min.) of the ORTF, the French TV and radio broadcasting office of the 60s. And talking about playing, it was an interlude between broadcasts. It gives you an idea of the pace in the olden days, brace yourself with a little patience.

A later version was Le petit train de la Mémoire (video, 2 min.) which took you through French landscapes and featured part of a drawing on each wagon for the audience to put together.

Thanks for this lovely trip down memory lane.

Claudine Voelcker, Munich, Germany

From: Robert Martin (robertmartinhk hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--rebus

I live in China. The Chinese language writing system is, at the end of the day, a celebration of the rebus: pictograms representing meaning. The language also has a paucity of sounds; thus homonyms proliferate. A bat etched into a piece of furniture signifies good luck because the sound for both bat and luck in Chinese is “fu”.

It is not surprising, I guess, that a whole novel has been written in rebuses by the masterful modern artist, Xu Bing. He calls it The Book of the Ground: From Point to Point. The book is told purely in internationally recognized symbols and images and thus needs no translation. It contrasts with his earlier installation piece, Book from the Sky, which was made of illegible Chinese characters, thus no one can read it.

Here is the beginning of the novel. I am sure you will be able to read it!

Robert Martin, Shanghai, China

From: Willa Wertheimer (dr.willa sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Rebus

At times I save ephemera from our times together as a family: a ticket, a shell, a seagull feather, to create rebuses on scrapbook pages and messages to my children. The kids love to decode them.

Willa Wertheimer, Woodstock, Illinois

From: Preston Macdougall (preston.macdougall mtsu.edu)
Subject: An example of a rebus

The periodic table is full of rebuses (rebi?), and even got a little bit more full recently. Chemists can have some fun with them, like you have fun with words. We also must be careful!

For example, W is the atomic symbol for the refractory metal tungsten, so stubborn to react that it is found in filaments for incandescent lightbulbs. Why isn’t the symbol T, you ask? That’s because German chemists named it for the frustrating foam that was formed by the element when they were trying to smelt ores to extract the more valuable element tin. They named it Wolfram, for “foam from the wolf’s mouth”.

More on this is found in Chemical Eye for the Political Guy (or Gal).

Preston MacDougall, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

From: Doug Knowlton (doug.knowlton gmail.com)
Subject: rebus

So, if I drew some sketches explaining that I got off a bus and kissed my girl goodbye again and then climbed back on the bus, that would be a re-buss, re-bus, rebus!

Doug Knowlton, Howell, Michigan

From: Donald Bushnell (bushnell sbcglobal.net)
Subject: rebus

For those not fortunate enough to live in Texas, every bottle cap from a bottle of Lone Star beer (the National Beer of Texas) contains a rebus.

Donald Bushnell, San Antonio, Texas

From: Alan Etherington (alan-e ntlworld.com)
Subject: rebus

I’ve mentioned Latin masters before. Ours was a small chap but remarkably fierce, an erstwhile army major, and he was insistent that “res” was never, ever translated as “thing”, so insistent was he that if it was thus translated the Death Penalty would be invoked. We believed him and found all sorts of other translations.

Alan Etherington, Billingham, UK

From: David Malmquist (davem vims.edu)
Subject: Rebus

Emoji are the rebuses of the digital age.

David Malmquist, Williamsburg, Virginia

From: Ossie Bullock (osmundbullock aol.com)
Subject: rebus

I think your basic definition should mention the playful or cryptic element which has long been part and parcel of it. A rebus has been used in heraldry for at least 500 years, in the form of visual puns. Thus the arms of the French family of Santeuil show an Argus’s head - the mythical Argus had a hundred eyes, which in French is ‘cent oeils’, spoken identically as the surname; and in England one early crest of the Bolton family shows a tun (barrel) with a bolt through it.

Ossie Bullock, London, UK

From: Kathleen Neal (kneal659 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--rebus

And then there is Ian Rankin’s great detective, John Rebus from Edinburgh who always has time for a pint. No pictures needed.

Kathleen Neal, Avon, Ohio

From: Dharam Khalsa (dharamkk2 windstream.net)
Subject: Anagrams of this week's words

All five words below, plus this heading, are equal to the one anagram to the right:
1. rebus
2. calligram
3. ambigram
4. pangram
5. acrostic
1. pictogram - such a laugh!
2. image made with letters
3. "Bob" having meaning on a mirror
4. goal: all-ABC phrase
5. first letters equal a word
The text in the right box is an anagram of the text in the left.
Dharam Khalsa, Espanola, New Mexico

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

"The voters have brains like amoebas,"
Says the Donald, "Look how they believe us!"
A finger will do
To express his world view
For the middle one's quite a good rebus.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

There were limericks, haiku, and anagrams,
Now Wordsmith will publish some calligrams.
My favorite is "bed",
Shape and meaning are wed,
And you're safe there from bosses and traffic jams.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The trick of a good ambigram
Is to show that you don't give a damn
About what you say.
E.g. hold it one way:
"I am not," but upturned, "Yes, I am."
-Oliver Butterfield, Kelowna, Canada (obutterfield shaw.ca)

"Sure, that chick's foxy," Sam's girlfriend admits,
"But quirky & cranky, and prob'ly a ditz.
Let’s send her this pangram;
It’s better than Sam’s spam.
I’ll just add that she doesn’t have very fine wits.”
-Oliver Butterfield, Kelowna, Canada (obutterfield shaw.ca)

“I’m good at creating acrostics
And a wizard at eating with chopsticks.”
Your personal ad
Did intrigue me a tad
But you pray and I’m with the agnostics.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

In North Cyprus yesterday I ran into a Turkish gentleman with no computer skills, and he asked me to send this in on his behalf. Very modest guy, wouldn’t give his name, but said that he wanted to ensure there was some balance in all this 22nd birthday hoopla. I am complying with his request herewith:
I hope there’s no surfeit of flattery
For Wordsmith, and all its AWADery
Over twenty-two years.
Okay, maybe two cheers -
And a third, if they’ll send it on Saturday.
-Anonymous, via Oliver Butterfield, Kelowna, Canada (obutterfield shaw.ca)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: AWAD of puns

My surname, Graham, is a homophone for ‘something written’. I really wanted to name my daughter Electra with middle name Cardio. My wife put the kibosh on that idea. She wouldn’t even let me name her Ana. “Allison” has turned out to be a good choice and a wonderful grown woman and mother.

In any event, with three AWADs this week ending -gram, it’s been a struggle to come up with unique (or good) puns (as you’re about to see):

When your Greyhound breaks down, they rebus you.

“Next time you’re in Colombia could you smuggle me a Caligram of cocaine?”

I ambigram, as are my two brothers. (Sorry, that only works for our clan.)

When he used all the letters to curse Magwitch, did Pip pangram? (anger him... a stretch, I know.)

I got Lyme disease from acrostic.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: Rob McCabe (rmccabe jacksonhealthcare.com)
Subject: Thank You!

I just wanted to say thank you; on your “birthday” no less. I’ve always been a bit of a word fan and I’ve been getting your email in one form or another since 1998 (jeez, almost 20 years!) or so.

I used to have a job working for a Big Blue corporation and I always wrote down AWAD entries on the whiteboard in my cube. For over 10 years, I made more than a few work friends via AWAD and a lot of curious minds. Skip forward a few years (as well as a few unsatisfying jobs) and I’m finally back in a place with curious minds and a whiteboard to satisfy them. It feels good to do this again.

Thanks for all the good words.

Rob McCabe, Alpharetta, Georgia

Language is the only homeland. -Czeslaw Milosz, writer, Nobel laureate (1911-2004)

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