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AWADmail Issue 728A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
Sponsor’s Message: “Old’s Cool” sums up our philosophy of life in a neat little turn of phrase - even though our real motto is “Shamalamading dong the doo dang dee.” But that’s another story. Even though it’s kind of too late (what else is new?), we’re offering this week’s Email of the Week winner, Sally Chetwynd (see below), as well as all fathers, grandfathers, and family men everywhere 20% off -- through midnight tonight -- just be sure to use coupon code “SHOP4POP”.
From: Chris Handley (chris redheron.com)
Even though I am not a USAn, I nevertheless share the world’s concern over who gets to lead you guys. I also have two USAn sons (both naturalised, obviously), and I remember saying to them some time ago that Trump winning the presidency would bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “God Save America.”
Naked bigotry deserves to be called by whoever can do it and by whatever means they have. The wider the message is disseminated the better about what he stands for.
One of my biggest regrets in life is that I did not voice my opposition to the Apartheid government in SA while I still lived there.
Chris Handley, Dunedin, New Zealand
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Period. Full Stop. Point. Whatever It’s Called, It’s Going Out of Style
From: Richard W. Burris (r_w_burris comcast.net)
I recently watched a “Great Courses” course on information theory. The multitude of Shannon’s insights blew me away. He was one of the people who adapted the thermodynamic concept of entropy to measure information. After leaving Bell Labs, he taught at MIT. According to the course, each week, his graduate students were treated to the new discovery he had made that week. Another factoid mentioned is that he had lunch with Alan Turing at Princeton early in the war!
I was an undergraduate in physics in 1956 to 1960. I took several philosophy courses about symbolic logic. In the first one, we were told about Shannon and introduced to Boolean algebra. I remember an exam question -- to define a 10-bit adder, then use B.A. to simplify it. The point was that, at that time, components were the largest expense and algebraic simplification of the equation was of great economic importance. How many NAND and NOR gates are in the laptop I am using to type this?
I came to the University of Maryland in 1960 for graduate school and most of the summer jobs available for technically inclined students were indeed as calculators -- at the Census Bureau and the Naval Observatory, which published updated celestial navigation tables periodically. Fortunately, I got a summer job at the Bureau of Standards (now NIST), which got my name included in a publication in a peer-reviewed physics journal.
How much the world has changed and how much of that was brought about by Shannon and Turing!
Richard W. Burris, Alexandria, Virginia
From: Shripad Garge (smgarge gmail.com)
Ah! Claude Shannon! Do you know that he was the first recipient of the Claude E. Shannon award? Frankly, I would never have thought that someone can be a recipient of the award named after the very same person. Don’t know anyone else.
Shripad Garge, Mumbai, India
From: Jill Sidders (jill.sidders virgin.net)
When I was a little girl I asked my dear father the meaning of the word “sophistry” which I had come across somewhere. He told me to look it up in a dictionary, implanting in me a really useful habit. I have never forgotten the definition: a specious but fallacious argument.
Jill Sidders, Sittingbourne, UK
From: Sally Chetwynd (brasscastlearts gmail.com)
I have thought for some time that “feisty” is related to “fice”, a somewhat archaic term for a small, tough dog. Abraham Lincoln wrote of a fice in one of his rare poems (he only wrote half a dozen or so), a ballad about a bear hunt. The men and the pack of dogs chase down a bear that has been raiding neighborhood farms, and the short-legged fice gets left behind. The fice catches up with the rest of them about the time the cornered bear gets killed. It bounds in and attacks the dead bear, as if claiming the kill for his own.
Sally M. Chetwynd, Wakefield, Massachusetts
From: Helen Pringle (justicegd aol.com)
AWAD: From feist, variant of obsolete fist, short for fisting cur, a contemptuous term for a dog, from fist, from Middle English fisten (to break wind).
The words “feist” and “cur” have survived to be the names of actual breeds of dog in present day, recognized by breeders and kennel clubs. From Wiki:
The name Cur is a descriptive term for a general, short-coated, drop-eared, farm and ranch working dog. Primarily Black Mouth Curs are herding dogs able to hunt big or small game, but they are also suitable as family dogs.
A Feist is a type of small hunting dog, developed via crossbreeding of various other hunting breeds in the rural southern United States.
Still the source term remains useful as a veiled insult for those so inclined.
Helen Pringle, Leander, Texas
From: Tom Freeman (tgcgt75 yahoo.com)
Caught on video... Marv Levy, former Head Coach of the Buffalo Bills, calling an official “an over-officious jerk”. One of the great NFL Films sound bites.
Tom Freeman, Menlo Park, California
From: Dharam Khalsa (dharamkk2 gmail.com)
Here is my anagram for the theme “Words that have changed”:
Dharam Khalsa, Espanola, New Mexico
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
There are so many voters ingenuous,
The bachelor, cunning and specious,
“The diff’rence between his and her mind?
Said Joseph to Mary, “Our sonny
“For using big words like ‘officious,’
From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
“You fell in der vat at der distillery, Otto. Yah, ingenuous.”
Our ocean liner steteroom was specious.
Teen invents braille printer that may cost only $300 purblind person.
Muhammad Ali’s punches came so feisty was a blur.
Wanting to be caught, the two bass begged the angler, “Officious.”
Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:Language furnishes the best proof that a law accepted by a community is a thing that is tolerated and not a rule to which all freely consent. -Ferdinand de Saussure, linguist (1857-1913)