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Feb 27, 2022
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Words borrowed from German & Hawaiian

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AWADmail Issue 1026

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

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

How to Pronounce and Spell Kyiv, and Why It Matters
The Guardian

Do Birds Have Language?

From: Maria Scurrah (scurrah gmail.com)
Subject: sehnsucht

I grew up in Huancayo, a town high up in the Andes. My parents were German-Jewish refugees from Hitler’s persecution, and although thankful to be alive, my father suffered Sehnsucht for his native Hamburg. So photos of the three towers that dominated the Hamburg skyline hung in our living room, and I had to recite which was which. He often read us Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale where

“Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;”
Which mirrored his feelings.

Maria Scurrah, Lima, Peru

From: Marion Wolf (marionewolf yahoo.com)
Subject: German and Hawaiian

German is not the only consonant-heavy language. Many years ago I told my cousin Fred that I was planning a trip to the Czech Republic. He said sadly, “Bring them some vowels.”

Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey

From: Joy Montgomery (joymontgomery1225 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Sehnsucht

I think that comment should refer to the Welsh! They make Germans look vowel-heavy.

Joy Montgomery, Livermore, California

From: Josephine Hammond (jmahammond btinternet.com)
Subject: Heavy use of consonants

German is not the only language to be so promiscuous in its use of consonants. Try Welsh.

Here are a few short examples: cwn (dogs), gyrrwch (drive), stryd (street), mynydd (mountain).

Then there is the story of the Welshman who was a contestant on Countdown, a quiz show which always ended with a conundrum. He looked at the nine consonants displayed, maybe it was llynyrtyd, and said, “That’s not a conundrum. It’s the name of my village.”

Joséphine Hammond, Llanmill, Wales

From: Brian P. O’Sullivan (brian.p.o’sullivan hitchcock.org)
Subject: Vowel drop

Your theme for the week reminded me of the Car Guys on NPR (Click and Clack), who in the 1990s, when we were all so aware of the names of countries and political leaders in the Balkans, suggested that we arrange a “vowel drop” like the food drops of the Berlin crisis days of the 1960s.

Brian P. O’Sullivan, MD, Manchester, New Hampshire

From: Robert Allen (rallen3129 icloud.com)
Subject: Correction:

On behalf of Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz and all other citizens of Poland... video (1 min.).

Robert Allen, Richmond, Virginia

From: Laila Monahan (lailamonahan gmail.com)
Subject: Vowels in Hawaiian

In the late 60s, I taught at a school above Pearl Harbor: Aiea High School, in Aiea, Hawaii (pronounced EYE-ay-ah).

Laila Monahan, Oxford, UK

From: Sally Ann Hart (sahflute rochester.rr.com)
Subject: lei

Thanks for the fleeting memory with the Hawaiian word today. When I briefly lived and worked in Hawaii, one of my closest colleagues was named Leina. We called her Lei. I don’t recall now how her family (natives of Maui) constructed the name with the “a” added to the flower garland. That matters little now, but the pleasure of seeing someone place a lei on another is accompanied, for me, by warm memories of my Hawaiian friend.

Sally Ann Hart, Rochester, New York

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy The Official Old’s Cool Education III -- “How do you get down from an elephant?”

From: Llyn French (cojee tampabay.rr.com)
Subject: lei

In the 1960s, the HMS Bounty, the ship used in the Marlon Brando film version of Mutiny on the Bounty, was docked on Tampa Bay at St. Petersburg, Florida, as a tourist attraction. There was a gift shop next to it with souvenirs. The shop was staffed with local college girls (of whom I was one) in “Tahitian” attire. We would take turns standing at the doorway with plastic leis, addressing the entrants with “Welcome to The Bounty! Would you like a free lei?”

After a few hours of male visitors’ predictably risque responses, one of our girls began asking instead, “Would you like a free flower necklace?” Even after 58 years, the memory still makes me chuckle.

Llyn C. French, St. Petersburg, Florida

From: Peter Gross (plgrossmd gmail.com)
Subject: Lei

Lei is also an Italian word meaning “she”. While Italian and Hawaiian may not have much else in common, they do both rely heavily on vowel sounds. Although the Italian alphabet has 21 letters with only 5 vowels (the same vowels as English), a disproportionate number of Italian words end in a vowel, e.g., Oggi cerco lavoro, domani lo cercherò di nuovo. (Today I am looking for a job, tomorrow I will look for one again.) What’s the point? Italian is the language of Grand Opera- and for a good reason. Have you ever tried to hold that final note (i.e., letter) of a song as an “n”, or a “d”, or a “t”, rather than as an “a”, or an “o”, or an “i”? Try it.

Peter Gross, MD, Easton, Maryland

100 lei. Romania, 2005
100 lei
From: Simon Warwicker (warwickers virginmedia.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lei

I encounter this word frequently.

It’s the currency of Romania which I often visit. Leu singular, lei (lay) plural; meaning lion/lions.

I see it every day at work as the Legal Entity Identifier, LEI, used in finance to identify customers and clients.

Whilst my colleagues enunciate each letter of the acronym, I’m forever pronouncing it as if it were the currency.

Simon Warwicker, London, UK

From: Bob Burr (burrresear aol.com)
Subject: 2-22-22

I turned 80 today, 2-22-22, a day I have looked forward to since I was a seven-year-old math whiz.

Bob Burr, Bellingham, Washington

From: Tom Baitz (baitz.thomas hotmail.com)
Subject: Verstehen

I was born in 1935 and was totally bilingual as a toddler. We used the word verstehen simply to understand. If you don’t clean up your room, you will kneel on beans. Verstehst du? Do you understand?

Tom Baitz, Cornwall, Canada

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

When I was a seminary librarian, I was always impressed by the titles of two journals we received from Germany, each suggesting the ponderous nature of German scholarship:
Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: Charles Harp (texzenpro yahoo.com)
Subject: Wissenworld

My favourite go-to German word these days is besserwisser, a know-it-all. Unlike more challenging German worte, it rolls off the tongue and lands with aplomb. Try it. Just like that, it can become your very own mellifluous key to fathoming the weltschmerz. Trust me; I know.

Charles Ellis Harp, Victoria, Canada

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Lei and wissenschaft

Verbing our Hawaiian lei into lei-ed might be viewed by some prescriptivists as verboten. But anything in the service of a good cause... or cartoon. Aloha!

Truth of Consequences
Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of today’s most highly respected epidemiologists, has been on the frontlines in tackling the Covid virus. He’s often stated that he and his fellow researchers are essentially following the science and data along whatever paths it takes them. The German word wissenschaftsgläubigkeit seems to capture Dr. Fauci’s faith in the scientific method. Yet he’s been demonized and he and his family threatened by science deniers for basically telling it like it is. And the Denier-in-Chief, Trump, leads the pack of unbelievers. Pass the bleach and hydroxychloroquine!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Words borrowed from German and Hawaiian
1. Sehnsucht
2. Lei
3. Verstehen
4. Kapu
5. Wissenschaft
= The shrewd answers, which are:
1. Am hankering
2. Neck flowers
3. I’m wise empath
4. Taboo
5. Had fervent studiousness
     Ah! this week’s theme: Words borrowed from German and Hawaiian
1. Sehnsucht
2. Lei
3. Verstehen
4. Kapu
5. Wissenschaft
= 1. Hanker
2. Wow! We garland few, fete them
3. Tut! Pore over assassin’s mind?
4. Hush! There is a ban
5. Heck! Do which seminars?
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

This week’s theme: Words borrowed from German and Hawaiian
1. Sehnsucht
2. Lei
3. Verstehen
4. Kapu
5. Wissenschaft
= 1. Wish
2. Wreath of flowers (her keepsake)
3. Assess human behavior (me?) with warmth/understanding
4. Don't
5. Science
     Ah! this week’s theme: Words borrowed from German and Hawaiian
1. Sehnsucht
2. Lei
3. Verstehen
4. Kapu
5. Wissenschaft
= 1. Desire
2. What?! The schmuck gets a sash of sewn flowers?
3. Humanitarian
4. Banned, reserved
5. Knowhow (i.e., ship term)
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


When you send us words such as these,
Take pity on rhyme-writers, please.
The German is tryin’,
Whereas the Hawaiian
We’re able to use with great ease.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)


I feel a great sehnsucht for cake,
The sort that my mother would make.
Her recipe files
Elicit my smiles ...
But think of the work it would take!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When boreal cold winds do blow,
Then snug in my warm house I go.
My sehnsucht, my yearning,
Is dear spring returning
To give winter blues the heave-ho.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

For orbiting Earth he’d a sehnsucht,
And never by risk was John Glenn spooked.
To the heavens he soared,
Which back then we adored.
Now there’s Donald. No lower have men stooped.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


He gave her at first a nosegay,
then later a lovely bouquet.
Though he tried and he tried,
she was not satisfied
till festooned with the blooms of a lei.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

I certainly do recall the day
I was adorned with a lovely lei.
Traveling is to me
Part of my history.
For years, I flew many miles away.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

“Aloha and welcome!” she’d say
While greeting her guests with a lei.
“I hope you’ll enjoy
The roast pork and poi --
We’re having a luau today.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

There are dandelions here, by the mile!
I imagine Hawaii -- and smile!
My backyard displays
Are now turned into leis
By magic! (And lots of denial!)
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Said the protocol chief, “Sir, their way
Is to welcome their guests with a lei.”
“That’s my kind of greeting!”
Said Donald. “How fleeting?
An hour I want, or won’t pay.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“That Goldie girl’s been here today
and left us in great disarray.
Regarding fair-playin’,
she has no verstehen,”
declares Papa Bear in dismay.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Verstehen Bill had, that was plain --
He often said, “I feel your pain.”
Though now a cliché,
Way back in the day,
Bill won with this famous refrain.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Caught with his hands in the cookie jar,
A jail term would be the normal par.
We were frustrated when
the judge, citing verstehen,
set him free in a ruling bizarre.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“If that knife means I’m in for a spayin’,”
Said the kitty, “you’ve got no verstehen.”
“There’s no choice,” said the vet,
“For you’ve been a coquette.
The good news is that mice you’ll keep slayin’.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“In Hawaii, avocados,” says he,
“are abundant, and practic’lly free.
With nothing to stop you
but signs that say KAPU,
you’re in and out, quick as can be!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Though rocks from volcanoes abound,
Just leave all those stones on the ground.
Or else you’ll be cursed
And suffer the worst --
It’s kapu to take what you’ve found.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

There’s a peak inexplicably shrouded;
With tourists, it never is crowded.
“They all say that it’s kapu --
Getting close to the top, you
Will definitely be re-routed.”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

When there’s something that you should not do,
You know that it’s really taboo.
Or, verboten, they say,
In Germ’ny today.
In Hawaii, they call it kapu.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Hawaiian words ought to be kapu;
This week you have gone too far, Anu.
And what’s with the German?
We poets are squirmin’,
And out of our Gmail may lock you.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The Wissenschaft that I pursued
Has made me a real sεxy dude.
This much can be said:
I learned that in bed,
It’s better when you’re in the nυde.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

I know you might think her somewhat daft
To insist on men with Wissenschaft,.
When done with their kissing,
There is nothing missing.
They will discuss a book, or some craft.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

If wissenschaft’s what you adore,
You’re happy to learn more and more.
You’ll study post-college
And build up your knowledge,
For that’s what our brain cells are for.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

In the end every good Christian laughed
At Mike Pence’s so-called wissenschaft.
Said one sailor at sea,
“Our Lord Savior’s for me,
But my captain I’m not kissin’ aft.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


When Oog’s wife catches him in a lie, she sehnsucht-o the dog cave.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The Hawaiian child recited the prayer, “Now I lei me down to sleep.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Her lei-zy day of the week is Sunday.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Why did the Hawaiian chicken cross the road? To lei eggs.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

She decided to put the floral wreath on lei-away.
Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“I don’t want to be alone tonight. Thanks verstehen over,” the drunken woman said to her friend.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

They tried to save some money so they verstehen at the cheap German resort.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Any kapu who uses excessive force should be held accountable.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

He knew she was from Boston when she asked, “Can we all kapu-l to Hahvahd Yahd?”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

False Flag Operation
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Putin

Indeed, this week Putin has ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a multi-pronged military assault, initially deploying ground-to-air missiles, striking most of Ukraine’s major cities, airports, and military installations. So much for Putin’s earlier pledge to solely defend the ethnic-minority Russian population in the eastern Donbas region, as “peace-keepers”.

Blood Is on His Hands
In his ultimate fool’s errand to rebuild the former Soviet Empire, Putin has used the false pretext of Ukraine’s leadership being rife with neo-Nazis and the country teeming with fascist sympathizers, to wage war against Ukraine. Hitler would be proud of imperialist Putin. Takes one megalomaniac to know one. Ironically, Ukraine’s democratically elected Pres. Zelensky is Jewish. He lost family members in the Holocaust, and his grandfather fought with the Russian ground forces against the Nazis in their seige of Berlin in the latter days of WWII.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Talk not of wasted affection; affection never was wasted. -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, poet (27 Feb 1807-1882)

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