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AWADmail Issue 746A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
Sponsor’s Message: What memories does “old school” evoke in you? “Thank you” instead of “No problem”? Saddle shoes. White handkerchiefs and white gloves. A hand-written note. Hitchhiking. Let us know -- we’re offering this week’s Email of the Week winner, Wojciech Setlak (see below), as well as all you traditionistas out there a yuge chance to tell us what you miss most about the world we are losing or have already lost. You may even win some of our authentic ludic loot, to boot. ENTER The Old’s Cool Contest NOW.
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
From: Wojciech Setlak (wojciech.setlak gmail.com)
You wrote: “Well, it may be possible to crank out a sentence or two without verbs, but this train isn’t going very far.”
No ghosts in this forest.
Wojciech Setlak, Warsaw, Poland
From: Sylvie Romanowski (s-romanowski northwestern.edu)
Some languages do not use the verb to be unless really necessary, for example, in Polish, “to dobze,” literally: that good, “is” being omitted.
Sylvie Romanowski, Professor Emerita of French, Evanston, Illinois
From: Joel Mabus (joel.mabus pobox.com)
Your verb-free sentences today reminded me of a joke that the sardonic satirist Mort Sahl often told after he was lambasted in a New York Times review in the 1960s.
“The Times writes sentences without verbs: ‘No comedian he.’”
Joel Mabus, Kalamazoo, Michigan
From: Ossie Bullock (osmundbullock aol.com)
This sends me, immediately and inescapably, to those terrifying words at the start of the final movement of Mozart’s Requiem, one of the most unsettling passages of music ever composed: “Confutatis maledictis, flammis acribus addictis” -- the agony of the wicked (as he saw himself), silenced and cursed and consigned to the fierce flames of hell. Followed, of course, by the beauty and peace of the “Voca me” -- abject contrition, and a desperate plea to be forgiven and called to heaven among the blessed.
It’s undeniably powerful stuff, even as an aging atheist, though I tend to feel that your deathbed is a bit late to start promising to mend your ways. But I’m veering badly off-topic now... unless some outraged Catholic would care to try and, um, confute the argument?
Ossie Bullock, London, UK
From: Janet Rizvi (janetrizvi gmail.com)
From Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, transl. Edward Fitzgerald, verse 43
“The Grape that can with Logic absolute
Dr Janet Rizvi, Gurgaon, India
From: Rod Tritton (rod thetreedoctor.co.za)
Thought for the day, about your thought for the day:
We need to find another metaphor to describe the “small man” syndrome. Although we probably are all racist and sizist and sexist, just below the skin, it is not fair on all short people to be labelled with a syndrome. Our language should grow to reflect our mores, and it is not very tolerant to be -ist of any sort these days, and most of all not generalist. Similarly though, it is not fair to be blacklisted for using tarred phrases while we learn not to offend people :)
Rod Tritton, Cape Town, South Africa
From: Julio Gómez (laujugo gmail.com)
The word in Spanish is “propina”, a small present of money given to someone for performing a service.
Julio Gómez, Caracas, Venezuela
From: Claude Généreux (genereux.claude gmail.com)
As a noun (propina) it evokes in Spanish the daily and rampant corruption happening in the country immediately south of your border.
Claude Généreux, Montreal, Canada
From: Ferenc Korompai (korompai msn.com)
Tip (gratuity) in Hungarian is “borravaló”, literally “for wine” i.e. “have a drink on me”.
Ferenc Korompai, Temple, Texas
From: Patrick Lashbrook (pLashbrook msn.com)
All home brewers are intimately familiar with this word. After pitching our chosen yeast culture into the prepared wort, we sit back and hope for clear signs of flocculation within the next 24 hours.
Patrick Lashbrook, Johnson City, Tennessee
From: Lester Jacobson (lesterjake comcast.net)
Coincidentally, the word flocculate got star billing at a tour last Saturday of our hometown water treatment facility, where we took our grandson. The engineers used it to describe one technique (flocculation) to filter out particles from our lake water, and even used it as a verb (to floc).
Les Jacobson, Evanston, Illinois
From: Alan Etherington (alan-e ntlworld.com)
A new meaning for the word flocculate could be that the large group of sheep that were expected didn’t arrive on time.
Alan Etherington, Billingham, UK
From: Nancy Boerman (grandmere14 att.net)
I first learned the word flocculate in 2006 from a Frazz comic by Jef Mallett. His precocious 3rd grader, Caulfield, says he is flocculating his Nestle’s Quik. His friend Frazz observes, “Discovering a new word is like finding money on the sidewalk,” and he replies, “The sooner you can blow it, the better!” Sort of like A.Word.A.Day.
Nancy Boerman, South Holland, Illinois
From: Buddy Gill (e-rgill2 juno.com)
Long ago, I discovered The Centipede, by Ogden Nash:
“I objurgate the centipede,
Buddy Gill, Black Mountain, North Carolina
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Riffing on our USAGE example for “absolve”, I’ve magically transported 13th-century Florentine author of The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri, to the modern-day “Big Apple”, where he’s banishing the forlorn New York Mets’ “Number One Fan” to Major League Baseball purgatory.
An objurgatory Lady Macbeth scolds her wee Scottie dog, “Spot”, who’s just made a “wee-wee” on the throne room floor. Clearly, here I’m going for a shameless echoing of Will Shakespeare’s doomed Scottish queen’s classic line... “Out, out damn spot.”, where her Highness literally had self-incriminating blood on her hands... a stubborn crimson stain that ultimately sealed her fate.
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California
From: Dharam Khalsa (dharamkk2 gmail.com)
Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina
From: Robert Jordan (alfiesdad ymail.com)
Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
A fact-checker should be astute
Says the Donald, “You just can’t confute
When the Donald is venting his spleen,
Mrs. Clinton he’d like to incarcerate,
When autumn begins to evolve,
When you talk to your plants they won’t germinate
From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
In an Olympic locker room you might see a propine in a cup.
Shepherd to scattered sheep: “I have an errand in town -- I’ll have to flocculate.”
To get a 6-pack, go to the gym and work on your absolve the time you’re there.
The Cockney kids said, “If you lock it on ‘allowe’en we’ll raise ‘objurgate.” (hint)
Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:By words the mind is winged. -Aristophanes, dramatist (c. 448-385 BCE)