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Oct 10, 2021
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Words related to writing

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AWADmail Issue 1006

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

Sponsor’s Message: “Yes it is!” This teen on a bicycle skids right in front of me on lower Thames, a rascally twinkle in his eye. He looks down at my OLD’S COOL t-shirt, snickers, and then looks back up at me dead in the eye. He shakes his headful of fusilli curls, contemptuously. “No it isn’t.” Fits traditionalistas to a tee. A fantastic gift! Shop Now.

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

A Language Bill Deepens a Culture Clash in Quebec
The New York Times

The Fight to Save Hawaii Sign Language from Extinction

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: How you work

I shared my writing process and asked readers how they’d describe what they do. Many of you wrote about writing. Some wrote about other stuff. Read a selection below.

(Note that we use Facebook’s commenting mechanism on our website and it’s currently not working. We have filed a bug report with Facebook and are waiting for the fix. Meanwhile, email us your comments.)

Technical Writers -- We misunderstand your instructions so your customers won’t!
-Dion Gladish, Glendale, Ohio (dgladish aol.com)

I found, having written many freelance articles and a non-fiction book, that one doesn’t write so much as re-write. It’s all in the editing, polishing, re-writing -- and doing that over and over up until the deadline. It never comes out right the first time.
-Charles Koppelman, Producer/Director, Berkeley, California (koppelm well.com)

Henry Geiger, editor of the weekly journal Manas, had to say on this subject: Never ask a writer what he is doing staring at the wall. That is when he gets his work done.
-T.S. Ananthu, Beas, India (jyotiananthu gmail.com)

I’m an actor, director, and playwright who mostly specializes in performing one-man plays. When asked, I tell people that “I turn ideas into words and words into performances.”
-Tim Mooney, Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre, Arlington Heights, Illinois (timmooneyrep gmail.com)

How “writing happens” is what I call “unconscious simmer”. It applies to the inspiration needed for art as well. Most of my best watercolor paintings are a result of that process. Facing a blank piece of paper, whether for writing or painting, is a non-starter. I always try to wait for that creative revelation to occur.
-Hope Bucher, Naperville, Illinois (hopebucher gmail.com)

You describe writing as all the thought processes that go on prior to putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). As someone who has been a writer (in a small way) for 50+ years and a software developer (in a big way) for a similar time, I can vouch for the fact that programming work is much the same as writing work, much the same as what you described. Depending on the project, a programmer can be an outliner or a “pantser”, i.e., create a plan to follow or just start out with an idea and wing it. In either case, a lot of the work is done while engaged in other physical activities. Then, once a first draft is done, the script must be edited/debugged, revised and reviewed until it is ready to publish/release. The processes are extremely analogous. I love doing both. The challenge in programming is the rules and tools keep changing. In writing it would be somewhat like every two years you had to start using verbs or nouns in a different language. Not only do verbs and nouns change but so does the syntax.
-David Studebaker, Ellison Bay, Wisconsin (das42dc gmail.com)

My one-liner when asked what I do is: “I help people get out of their own way.” We like to claim we’re waiting on someone else, but all too often we’re actually waiting on ourselves to do the next right thing.
-Ray Raymond N. Baker, Lt. Col USAF (Ret), Executive Director, Patriots In Recovery Living (PIRL), Master Black Belt Lean Six Sigma, Improving Alaska LLC, HHBC Celebrate Recovery Training Coach, Edmond, Oklahoma (RaybakerLc gmail.com)

As the author of four books, I have a lot of experience “working” at writing. Many of my organizing ideas come to me at night, not when I fall asleep but when I wake at midnight and ponder. The worry is whether I’ll remember because I don’t take notes at night.
-Reiner Decher, Prof. Emeritus, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington (reiner54 gmail.com)

Truer words have never been spoken. As you get older and the longing for fame and fortune gets discarded as the illusion it is and you don’t need to make a living anymore, I also find that the urge to get the “writing” out of your head becomes less and less compelling, which inspired someone (I forget who, maybe a character in a novel) to say that the best books have never been written.
In the same vein, Paul Meurisse, a French actor of the '60s, loved photography. When he’d taken all the shots on a film, he’d pull it out of the camera and dump it in a bin. President Jacques Chirac loved campaigning. Once elected, he found little interest in the job and Clemenceau is remembered for the quip: “In love, the best moment is when you climb the staircase.” Achievement will never trump fantasy (which is why dreams have such a good reputation :o)
-Pascal Pagnoux, Saint Gaudens, France (pascal.pagnoux gmail.com)

What works for me is to turn off the TV, and without any music playing from my stereo, just sitting in total, quiet solitude -- usually in the early evenings -- when the only sound, on a warm summer night, is the crickets chirping, allowing my thoughts to come up by themselves, without interference or stimulation from other noise. And then I write them down as quickly as possible, or dictate them into my iPhone for further review, and editing if necessary, the next day.
-Don Kellogg, Novato, California (kelloggphoto yahoo.com)

I think the biggest misconception about writing is that there is one good way to write. Writing styles are even more different than hair styles. The “just dump it all on the page” style that you describe is impossible for me; I type as I think and think as I type. I recommend Helen Sword’s Air & Light & Time & Space. She interviews a bunch of successful (academic) writers and finds a huge diversity of approaches.
-Tobias I. Baskin, Amherst, Massachusetts (baskin bio.umass.edu)

From: Juliann Hansen (jrshcoup1 gmail.com)
Subject: chosisme

So there’s a word for it! One of my favorite authors, John McPhee, writes about “things” -- everything from New Jersey to canoe-building to oranges to geology, and so much more, and he turns such mundane-sounding topics (sorry, New Jersey) into page-turners.

Jul Hansen, New Hartford, Connecticut

From: Lili Eylon (lilieylon8 gmail.com)
Subject: Human qualities for inanimate subjects

I had a thought: why do we inflict inanimate objects with human qualities, the poor things: sleeping pills, walking sticks, healthy foods, wake-up clock, hiking shoes ... Anyone have more?

Lili Eylon, Jerusalem, Israel

From: Susannah Garboden (susannahgar gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pilcrow

Damn it! Just when my family paused reproduction the perfect name appears.

Susannah Garboden, Framingham, Massachusetts

From: Laura O’Donnell (odonnell411 gmail.com)
Subject: comment

I started using pilcrows in law school while taking notes; this was pre-laptop. I also stopped dotting i’s or crossing t’s to save time. Is there anyone else that takes these shortcuts? Or any other kind of writing shortcut?

Laura O’Donnell, Columbus, Ohio

From: Christine De Pedro (christeeny icloud.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pilcrow

Far from being retired, the pilcrow (now I know what it is called!) is essential for those of us who design and lay out text for print. Show invisibles is always activated to see where authors have inserted pilcrows, instead of line breaks or an extra pilcrow to add a line space between paragraphs. Both need to be removed and corrected for style sheets to be properly applied.

Christine DePedro, Chicago, Illinois

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy OLD’S COOL -- Look 10 lbs younger.

From: Daphne Harwood (daphwood gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--paremiography

What an amazing and delightful new word. Paremiography! I embodied that word with a special project.

In 1985-86 in preparation for what was going to be a Vancouver World Exposition based on the themes transportation and communication, I constructed a van. (The planners abandoned the theme!) My inspiration came from “The God Truck” created by Ernie Ruff.
The God Truck by Ernie Ruff

Ernie parked it in key places where it would get lots of viewings. I learned that he had a house in Telegraph Creek, BC, styled in a similar manner.

I chose to do proverbs on my truck, as I am inclined that way. It was 7 feet long, 4 feet high. And since I like to work with cloth only the substructure isn’t cloth. I called it Couver, The Proverbial Van.

Couver, The Proverbial Van

Later I put it on a rolling platform so I could take it in the final parade of Expo 86. I had so much fun collecting proverbs from friends, from other cultures, from books in the library. I had just gotten a stamper set in an antiques barn in rural Maine, so I was equipped!

Couver, The Proverbial Van

Couver survived one house move, but I had to dismantle it for the next one. No museum wanted it -- too big!! Sadly I lost the proverb strips.

Couver, The Proverbial Van

Daphne Harwood, Vancouver, Canada

From: Viv Brown (vivjbrown gmail.com)
Subject: Dithyramb

You couldn’t possibly have been thinking of Boris Johnson’s speech at the Conservative party conference??

Viv Brown, Midlands, UK

From: Craig Little (craig.little pearson.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--obelus

In typesetting, it is sometimes better to use a symbol rather than a superscript number to indicate a footnote, particularly when your content is mainly numbers to begin with, like math or dates. For dates, it is conventional to use an asterisk for someone’s date of birth and a dagger for a date of death.

Craig Little, Mahwah, New Jersey

From: Joachim van Dijk (joachim.van.dijk gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--obelus

In German the word Obolus is well known in the expression “seinen Obolus leisten” meaning “to do or pay one’s share”. Also, a synonym for a small amount of money used for a tip, fee, donation, or bribe. It derives from obelus and refers to a small coin (obol) in the form of a small rod. In ancient Greece the deceased were buried with an obolus in their mouth in order to pay the ferryman for a one-way trip across the Styx river to reach Hades.

Joachim van Dijk, Wiesbaden, Germany

Type Casting
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Pilcrow and obelus

Our word “pilcrow” immediately sparked this visual of an animated pill and a clever crow, in action, separating blocks of text, entire paragraphs, for more ease of readability. Froggy suggests a more pragmatic tack would be to just insert the pilcrow symbol at the appropriate copy breaks.

Primed by the “NOTES” for our word “obelus”, referencing the”Asterix” comics character Obelix, I picked this trio of characters from the engaging Gaulish cartoon sagas. Truth be told, I invented the Umlautrix character, based on the double-dotted diacritic symbol, the umlaut.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Words related to writing
1. chosisme
2. pilcrow
3. paremiography
4. dithyramb
5. obelus
= 1. aka thingism
2. I put space
3. bold aphorisms “tomed”
4. wow! high street cheer
5. we timidly worry re: BS lore
     This week’s theme: Words related to writing
1. chosisme
2. pilcrow
3. paremiography
4. dithyramb
5. obelus
= 1. is how we writers describe outlook
2. writers’ “halt” symbol
3. aphorism-mad
4. epic epithet, hymn
5. dagger
     This week’s theme: Words related to writing
1. chosisme
2. pilcrow
3. paremiography
4. dithyramb
5. obelus
= 1. literary scheme
2. when to switch paragraphs
3. more idioms
4. wild Greek tribute
5. whoops! edit symbol
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


In chosisme, things take centre stage;
With plot it will barely engage.
The background presents
People, setting, events ...
So, you may, or may not, turn the page.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

“Of objects there’s much I could say,”
Claimed author Alain Robbe-Grillet.
Chosisme he chose,
And this, I suppose,
Made readers in French shout “Hooray!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

They’re a great way to practice chosisme;
There are dozens of types that’ll please ya.
Gorgonzola and Brie,
Camembert; ah, oui, oui!
You could write a whole book about cheese, huh?
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Says the teacher, “There’s justification
for using precise punctuation.
As most of you know,
the symbol pilcrow
means new paragraph in that location.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Please put in a pilcrow or two
To help the poor reader get through!
Then one could make sense
Of text that is dense --
I think it’s the least you could do!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The apostrophe said to the pilcrow,
“The handwriting’s obvious, kiddo.
It’s there on the wall
Of yon men’s restroom stall;
Yes, I may be misused, but you’re zippo.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Wise king Solomon had what it takes
In the paremiography stakes.
He’s the champ, there’s no doubt -
No one else has more clout -
And a by-word to boot. He’s great shakes!
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Dear Benjamin Franklin was noted,
His paremiography quoted.
In language quite spare
His wisdom he’d share
With Almanack readers devoted.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Anu, really. Paremi-, then -ography?
I’ll write you, sir, no hagiography.
My proverb: “Big words
Shall be smashed into sherds,”
Helped me finish this limerick, groggily.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Just arrived in the vaunted hereafter
And was greeted with songs and with laughter
And a Greek dithyramb.
The whole scene was a sham.
Nothing ever I’ve seen has been dafter.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Politicians beloved for their speeches
are rarer than fresh Georgia peaches.
They promised the moon
to the voters in June,
those dithyramb unctuous leeches!
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

In the film about Scarlett and Rhett,
there’s a part we will never forget.
To her dithyramb,
“I don’t give a damn!”
he replies. ‘Twas the best movie yet!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

She will use a dithyramb when
She’s talking about all her men.
While playing the part
Of a sexy tart,
She’ll exaggerate once again.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

A dithyramb’s what she has written,
For with the great food she is smitten.
When posted on Yelp,
Her praise sure will help
Bring folks to this pub in Great Britain.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

He found their writing so boring.
The professor caught himself snoring.
“I beg one dithyramb,
On the final exam.”
He told the class, “I am imploring.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Pleaded Mary; “Don’t be non-committal, ma’am;
Let it stay, and we’ll all pen a dithyramb.”
She agreed, and “So cool!”
They wrote. “Best day at school!
For you’re ever so cute, itty-bitty lamb!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Where another might temper his muse,
When relating, my passion imbues.
I employ dithyramb,
Dress it up, glitz and glam,
And whatever the topic, enthuse!”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, Cornwall. UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Republican words that could hobble us
Should henceforth be marked with an obelus.
“The election they’re stealing!”
“Don’t raise the debt ceiling!”
I’ll leave it to George Stephanopoulos.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Putting on only the bottom half of her bikini, the French teenager told her disapproving mother, “I want to chosisme!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Why must that pu-pilcrow about his high grades?
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

The pharmacy sent their medicines by carrier ravens, and called their service The Pilcrow.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Take this pilcrow and you’ll caw like a chick again,” said the quack veterinarian.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Why dithyramb his old car into the tree? Was it for the insurance?
-Ray Pasinski, Downers Grove, Illinois (rayomic yahoo.com)

Hoping her speech impediment wouldn’t put him off, the smitten ewe confessed, “You make me dithyramb.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I’ve compiled my notes on children born early into a definitive paremiography,” boasted the developmental psychologist.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The builder called his four-sided monument to typographical marks an obelus-k.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“Guv, we promise not to run off; please don’t obelus in the stable at night,” said the Hackney carriage horses.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When the young man helped an elderly woman across the street she said, “Obelus your heart.”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com

Diaper Change
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Diaper change

There are rumblings, of late, that Trump is stewing, eager to announce his candidacy for a presidential run in 2024. So, it’s no surprise that he’s been pleading with Twitter to end his permanent banishment from their site. Trump argues that his 1st Amendment rights are being denied with the Twitter ban. He should know that the 1st Amendment provisions apply only to the government, i.e., that a government cannot limit one’s free speech. A private company, however, is free to kick him off their site, especially as Trump promotes and spreads misinformation and encourages violence and conflict.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

You become writer by writing. It is a yoga. -R.K. Narayan, novelist (10 Oct 1906-2001)

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