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Jul 28, 2019
This week’s theme

This week’s words
Manchurian candidate
ultima Thule

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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AWADmail Issue 891

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

Sponsor’s Message: We’ve finally become our own worst nightmare: a sellout. Large anonymous corporation gets wind of One Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Word Game and wants to license it worldwide. We say sure, why not? Creativity, principles, artistic integrity, success on our own terms? Right out the window at the first sign of cash we’re happy to say. Seriously, we’re offering all AWADers, including Email of the Week winner, Ana Ross (see below), 50% OFF our Special Dark Edition, while supplies last. Once this limited and lovely version of our best-selling cutthroat IQ contest is gone, it’s gone forever. So, smarten up (on the cheap) RIGHT AWAY >

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

Border Collie Trained to Recognize 1,022 Nouns Dies
The New York Times

Robert Mueller’s Testimony and the Garbled Language of Politics
The New Yorker

What’s Deoxyribonucleotide in Sign Language?

Commas Don’t Kill People
The Web of Language

From: Monica Firely (firely gmail.com)
Subject: A world without boundaries

Thumbs (& welcoming liberty torches) up for the Lazarus quotation today, Mr Garg, and for your terrific opening message of unity. Kind and timely as ever... Please keep doing what you’re doing. I wish there were more like you in this world.

Monica Firely, Sarasota, Florida

From: Bill Stoye (captainscove gmail.com)
Subject: Imagine...

Photos taken 2009, Central Park, New York:
Strawberry Fields Imagine
Bill Stoye, Campbell, California

From: Bob Southwell (bobs drbobs.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--solecism

I just have to share with you my memory of the first time I was exposed to this word.

It was 1971 and I was 13, and I had the leading male role in our school’s production of HMS Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan. There is a line spoken by the Captain referring to Ralph Rackstraw’s low class and how this would cause him to commit solecisms that society would not pardon. Act 1, just after “Sorry her lot who loves too well”:

“CAPT. Come, my child, let us talk this over. In a matter of the heart I would not coerce my daughter -- I attach but little value to rank or wealth -- but the line must be drawn somewhere. A man in that station may be brave and worthy, but at every step he would commit solecisms that society would never pardon.”

Thanks for the happy memories!

Bob Southwell, Byford, Australia

From: Mario Rinvolucri (mario.rinvolucri7 gmail.com)
Subject: Dunkirk

While Dunkirk was a shambolic defeat for the British and the French that was reframed as a heroic moment by UK propaganda at the time (all the British generals were later downgraded for their total lack of professionalism ... “Downgraded” is an overstatement. They kept their rank but were blocked from any promotion right through that long war during which majors and colonels were becoming generals in droves.), does Dunkirk feature in modern German to denote an amazing, beyond belief triumph of German decisiveness, speed, and courage?

Mario Rinvolucri, Kent, UK

Email of the Week brought to you by One Up! -- Play mind games on the cheap NOW >

From: Ana Ross (via website comments)
Subject: ultima Thule

The most isolated point in the world, the ultima Thule, is known as Point Nemo. It lies off the coast of South America. It was discovered by computer in 1992 and is so isolated that probably no one has ever visited it. It is the least biologically active place on earth and is remarkably close to the coordinates that H.P. Lovecraft gives for R'yleh, the lair of Cthulu.

Ana Ross, Honolulu, Hawaii

From: Chip Taylor (via website comments)
Subject: ultima Thule

Of course, Ultima Thule has recently been in the news. On New Year's Day, 2019, the spacecraft New Horizons gave us beautiful photos of this dual planetesimal Kuiper Belt object. At over 4 billion miles (6+ billion kilometers), you could certainly say it is out in the boondocks.

Chip Taylor

From: Lawrence Crumb (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ultima Thule

In the 1963 movie Heavens Above!, Peter Sellers plays a vicar who is made Bishop of Outer Space as the only way to get him out of his parish. He is sent to the British space station at Ultima Thule, where he changes clothes with an astronaut (as a prisoner had changed clothes with him when he was a prison chaplain) and goes into outer space himself.

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: Dolores Lema (via website comments)
Subject: ultima Thule

As with boondocks, and "all the way to Timbuktu”, there is also “beyond the pale”; three expressions for places or situations that are far from where one is currently.

Dolores Lema, Powell River, Canada

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Siberia

Dostoevsky’s depiction of a Siberian prison camp in his semi-autobiographical novel The House of the Dead, published in 1862, was turned into an opera by the Moravian composer Leoš Janáček, who was an admirer of all things Russian. It was first performed posthumously in 1930, two years after the composer’s death. In these camps the knout was not spared, either. People who died from the beatings were said to have been eaten by the wolves, and other such euphemisms. The author Alexander Solzhenitsyn, himself a victim of exile to Siberia by the Bolsheviks, gave this chain of camps the moniker The Gulag Archipelago.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Manchurian candidate and ultima Thule

Manchurian candidate
In this scenario, Trump, the incumbent 2020 Republican candidate for president, is a prime exemplar of our word(s), “Manchurian candidate”, a compliant marionette on the world stage, being manipulated by puppeteers Vladimir Putin, and Xi Jinping, wily autocratic leaders of Communist Russia and China, respectively. Despite Trump’s constant denial of cyber-meddling by Russian operatives in our 2016 presidential election, contributing to his unexpected victory, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s inquiry/report into Russian election intrusion confirmed that Russia, indeed, was up to no good, and in point of fact, attempted to persuade the American electorate to vote for Trump, and not for Hillary Clinton. And we all know how THAT turned out? US Intelligence has also gleaned hard evidence that Chinese hackers are no slouches when it comes to cyber-manipulation and American election tampering. Not to mention their on-again-off-again waging of the protracted trade war with the US. Hmm... perhaps I should have included The Hermit Kingdom’s inscrutable Kim Jong-un in my spin on a “Punch & Judy Show” setup? Kim is surely waiting in the wings.

Ultima Thule
Arguably, any one of these hardy creatures of extreme northern climes, the native Scottish Shetland pooch and pony, the Faroe Isles sheep, and the Greenland walrus, could lay claim to ultima Thule heritage. An Ancestry.com, or 23andMe DNA saliva test might identify the most Thulean of the lot? Good luck getting a drool sample from ornery Mr. Walrus. Ha!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words

1. solecism
2. manchurian candidate
3. dunkirk
4. siberia
5. ultima thule
1. dumb unmannerly mistake
2. amuck politician
3. herd rush
4. isolation
5. distance
1. solecism
2. Manchurian candidate
3. Dunkirk
4. Siberia
5. ultima Thule
= place names
1. mistake
2. toady
3. crunch
4. unkind limbo in Russia
5. outer limit had
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

He often, unfortunately,
says “I” when he should have said “we”.
This grave solecism
is causing a schism
linguistic between he and she.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Which is it, “I could or I couldn’t
Care less?” Or, “I should, or I shouldn’t?”
A bad solecism
Will cause such a schism
In English. But care less I wouldn’t.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

Solecism defines our fine leader;
No manners, not much of a reader.
Now he’s blasted The Squad,
Ran them over roughshod;
Where is Hillary now that we need her?
-Joe Budd Stevens, MD, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

We gloss over his smooches and gropes;
Solecisms we pass off as tropes.
We keep trying to serve him,
Though out on a long limb,
Our backs every day on the ropes.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

While seeds of unrest he is planting,
He praises the crowd for their chanting.
His ego takes flight
With pompous delight.
Solecism is clear in his ranting.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

Henry Higgins proclaimed solecisms
As the source of society’s schisms.
Said he, “We’d know peace
If the language police
Would with butchers of English fill prisons.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

His foes yell, “Manchurian candidate!”
“Works for Russia or maybe a caliphate!”
“Find a crime or a breach,
For grounds to impeach!”
But McConnell says, “Trump we won’t castrate.”
-Bill Pfeil, Bang Saphan Noi, Thailand (billpfeil yahoo.com)

“The tape with the whores and the pee
Will compromise Donald, you see!”
How glad Vlad must feel:
“This fool -- an ideal
Manchurian candidate’s he!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

No surprise I’m unable to celebrate,
as some do, our Manchurian Candidate.
Thanks to Putin’s big snitch
and the scam-artist’s pitch,
we’ve a dangerous, very dim head-of-state.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

There’s no one who Donald would rather date
Than a gorgeous Manchurian candidate.
As one tickles his rocks
While she’s asking for docs,
He says, “Take what you want, I won’t vacillate!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When Katrina of hurricane fame
To N’Awlins so viciously came,
No responder could shirk
That veritable Dunkirk,
And to infamy fell that girl’s name.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

Oh, the Congress contingent, they smirk,
‘Cause they’re dealing with Prez-gone-berserk.
But their jobs are at stake,
So good deeds they forsake,
Turning politics into Dunkirk.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

My girlfriend’s the best, but for one quirk:
She turns romance at night into Dunkirk.
For at finding the part
Which will pleasure impart,
She contends that I’m rather a dumb jerk.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

He said to the boss, “You’re a jerk!”
And so he was punished at work.
He’s now in Siberia --
“At least I’m not near ya,
And that I consider a perk!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

On business trips, careful criteria
Should be used not to catch a bacteria.
One night if you’re drunk
And some girl’s a slam dunk,
You’ll be kicked by your wife to Siberia.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When our politics get too unruly
Treating folks so unfair and quite cruelly,
It is time to react,
Getting into the act:
Send our Prez off to ultima Thule.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

They photographed Ultima Thule!
A fabulous feat it was, truly.
This peanut-shaped place
Is far out in space --
The newspapers noted it duly.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When the mob boss confronted the stoolie,
He did speak to him firmly, and coolly.
Then he said to the snitch,
“I’ll put you in a ditch,
Or a far trip to ultima Thule.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“When the boys in my class get unruly,
Off I send ‘em to ultima Thule,”
Said the nun, “For the priest
Has a private place leased
Where they learn to behave, well and truly.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Anu is incomparable, i.e., there’s just no toponym

Solecism much fun when you’re locked in a cell.

Among the Democrats there doesn’t appear to be a main shoo-in candidate.

Spying a tan Scottish church my wife said, “Look at that Dunkirk.”

Cyrus McCormick’s siblings agreed, “When mom dies, let Siberia.”

(Note: I had only heard “Thule” said with a hard ‘T’ like Thames.)
Nude body surfing plays ultima Thule.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

We are social creatures to the inmost centre of our being. The notion that one can begin anything at all from scratch, free from the past, or unindebted to others, could not conceivably be more wrong. -Karl Popper, philosopher and a professor (28 Jul 1902-1994)

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