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AWADmail Issue 1027

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

A Tour of Writing’s History Bounces From Script to Script (book review)
The New York Times

The Spontaneous Origins of Language
The Wall Street Journal

From: Peter Bell (bellpw gmail.com)
Subject: palmate

When you pick up a bar of soap to wash your hands, you are likely introducing your palms to sodium palmate, a surfactant that is derived from palm oil, sourced from palm trees. Palm trees are named for the resemblance of their fronds to, what? Hands.

Peter Bell, Penn Yan, New York

From: Chuck Dinsmore (salamanderdoc gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--palmate

If you wanted to showcase a palmate antler, you should have used a photo of a Maine bull moose in Nov. Now those are palms! :-o

Chuck Dinsmore, Damariscotta, Maine

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by Old’s Cool Academy -- Viriliter Age. Learn more.

From: Hilary Hilscher (hilary.hilscher gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--palmate

And speaking of hands, one of my favorite words:

The Arrigetch Peaks are a cluster of rugged granite spires in the Endicott Mountains of the central Brooks Range in northern Alaska. The name Arrigetch means “fingers of the outstretched hand” in the Inupiat language.

Hilary Hilscher, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Petite Palmiers and Uji Maisen
Photo: Kirinohana
From: Brenda De Silva (bjtcdesil gmail.com)
Subject: Palmate

Today’s word reminds me of the delectably flaky French pastry, palmier. You eat it out of hand too.

From a land of palm trees,

Brenda De Silva, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

Closer look at the "Devil's hand"
Photo: Tatters
From: Michal Lauren (ladymichal sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Palmate

Here is something very strange, and new, to me at least. The scientific name is Chiranthodendron pentadactylon, otherwise known as the monkey’s hand tree, for obvious reasons.

Michal Lauren, Boulder Creek, California

From: Patti Padgett (ppadgett shertechpharmacy.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--two-fisted

The definition I’ve heard my entire life for two-fisted refers to someone with a drink in both hands or a heavy drinker.

Patti Padgett, Duncan, South Carolina

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: two-fisted

Far from being two-fisted, Chopin was a thousand-fingered giant of the keyboard. Composer, performer, lover, patriot, whose largely unhappy life is commemorated in the award-winning Polish film A Desire For Love.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Stephe Ellis (stephe.ellis btinternet.com)
Subject: Pugilism - repugnance

Boxing should be banned. It is the only “sport” where the object is to inflict brain damage upon another person for the entertainment of spectators.

Boxing gloves are protective of the hands, but thereby enable a protagonist to land more blows to their opponent’s head. They are worn not to protect the pugilists in the ring, but to increase the likelihood of a knock-out, which is, by definition, brain damage.

Compare the young Cassius Clay to the elderly Muhammad Ali. This is what boxing does to The Greatest. By comparison, the swift deaths of gladiators in the Colosseum of Imperial Rome seem almost merciful in their immediacy.

Stephe Ellis, York, UK

From: Robert Carleton (Enchanted128 outlook.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pugilism

British rugby seems, too, like a gladiatorial contest. These action “games” get more violent all the time. Ditto with NASCAR as huge crowds pay big bucks to watch vehicles careen around a track at impossible speed while they await the nearly inevitable spectacle of a crash. Seems that a return to the Gladius, Retes, and Fascina of the Roman era is inevitable.

Bob Carleton, Albuquerque, New Mexico

From: Sarah Ingram (sarah.ingram wvt.nhs.uk)
Subject: cack-handed

My sister and I (two left-handed children of right-handed parents, which I think is statistically quite unusual) were teased for being cack-handed by my dad and I always assumed it had to do with poo -- more so when we moved to Qatar and found out about the cultural left/right hand task divisions.

I am still convinced that the teacher in my junior school in the UK didn’t teach me to knit when the rest of the class were learning because I was left-handed. I was left with the vague feeling that something was wrong, but years of wresting with tin openers, jars, screws, etc., has given me a lively interest in ergonomics and probably a greater awareness of it in everyday life than most people.

Sarah Ingram, Hereford, UK

From: Helle Pals Frandsen (hellepalsfrandsen gmail.com)
Subject: cack-handed

In Danish, we use the word kejthåndet, the literal meaning of which is akin to today’s word, cack-handed, since kejtet in Danish means clumsy or awkward. When I started school in 1950, those of us who claimed to be left-handed had to undergo a test to establish whether we were “genuinely left-handed” ... only two of us passed that test, and I was one.

Among younger people in Denmark, it is currently not PC to say kejthåndet -- one is supposed to use the term venstreh√•ndet (meaning left-handed) and people stop and stare whenever I say that I am kejthåndet ... but I persist!

Helle Pals Frandsen, Copenhagen, Denmark

From: Christiane Schmitt (christiane.e.schmitt googlemail.com)
Subject: Cackhanded

In German:

left = links
linkisch = inelegant, awkward

Christiane Schmitt, Düsseldorf, Germany

From: Eric F Plumlee (ericfplumlee hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cack-handed

A phrase that is commonly used in German is “being able to do something ‘left’” (Ich kann das links). In other words, it is something so easy to do, one could do it left-handed. I would say it is similar to the English phrase about doing something with one hand tied behind your back.

Have an ambidextrous day,

Eric F Plumlee, Niederlenz, Switzerland

From: John Kelsey (jkelsey wesleyan.edu)
Subject: left-handed

In Tok Pisin, the dominant language of wider communication in Papua New Guinea (they have hundreds of languages there) “left hand” is han kais; “right hand” is han sut, the hand one shoots (a spear) with.

In Tok Pisin, “left hand” can also be simply lephan, “left hand”, with the p being pronounced by itself, but that’s not very interesting, at least compared with han kais. A left-handed man is said to be a kaisman.

John Kelsey, PhD, Killingworth, Connecticut

From: Laura Dubcovsky (lauradubcovsky gmail.com)
Subject: cack-handed

In Spanish derecha (right) and izquierda (left): to be a fair/good man (hombre derecho), while conducting a bad action is ir por izquierda (go to the left), also siniestro in Spanish for sinister.

Laura Dubcovsky, Davis, California

From: Anabel Arribas (anabel.arribas gmail.com)
Subject: cack-handed

In Spanish we say zurdo (left-handed, stupid) as an opposite to diestro (right-handed, skilful).

Anabel Arribas, Tres Cantos, Spain

From: Aaron Krohn (krohn.aaron gmail.com)
Subject: Left-handed

In Spanish, the term mano de diablo, which translates to “devil’s hand” is a common reference to someone who is left-handed.

Aaron Krohn, Belize

From: Haluk Şardağ (hsardag gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cack-handed

In Turkish, solak, which means left-handed, also means something not meaningful or logical.

Haluk Sardag, Istanbul, Turkey

From: Daithí Ryder (david.ryder1967 gmail.com)
Subject: Left hand in Irish

My friend in primary school was termed ciotóg left-handed. He was kept back by a kind nun to teach him how to write properly. Another nun beat him when she saw him using his left hand. This was 1973 when a new curriculum had arrived instructing teachers to make education child-centred.

My friend is talented as an artist and builder today. He remembers these nuns with forgiveness for their foolishness and can survive ambidextrously... but favours his left hand.

Ciotóg: Irish for left-handed or foolish or clumsy.

David/Daithí Ryder, Mayo, Ireland

From: George Theocharidis (gt wmu.se)
Subject: Word

In Greek the word ζαβος (zavos) is used for a left-handed person but the term per se has a negative connotation.

George Theocharidis, Malmö, Sweden

From: Richard Stallman (rms gnu.org)
Subject: Left-handedness

Prejudice for the right hand and against the left hand is found in many languages. I’ve read about this general pattern, but no longer remember where. However, I can cite two examples from non-Indo-European languages.

The Hungarian word for left is “bal”, and it also means “unfortunate”. “Baleset” means “(traffic) accident.” “Balul üt ki”, “turn out badly”. The word for “right” is “jobb”, which also means “better”. Indeed, it must have meant “better” first, since it is derived from “jo” (good) in the regular way by adding the comparative suffix.

In Indonesian, “kiri” means “left”, but also “unfortunate” or “unfavorable”. “Mengirikan”, the derived causative verb, means “put/force something to the left” but also “reject” or “eliminate”.

I think I recall reading that the reason for this pattern of semantics is that people tend to use good and bad as metaphors for right and left. How else could you come up with a word for “right” if you don’t have one?

Dr Richard Stallman, Boston, Massachusetts

From: George Dirolf (georgedirolf gmail.com)
Subject: I’m left-handed...

Who can forget leftist -- there is no rightist. And an anecdote:

As a teacher proctoring exams in the gym, we were instructed to walk around and never to grade papers, read newspapers, look at our cellphones -- just pace for 3-1/2 hours our eye’s out for cheating. I would walk up and down the rows of sometimes 400 students and note how many were left-handed. I did this for years and the average always ended up around 10-12 percent (current US average).

George Dirolf, Albany, New York

From: Florence Casse (casseflorence hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cack-handed

Hermit crabs are mostly “right-handed”! Which was kind of a bummer for artist Robert DuGrenier who didn’t understand why his hermit crabs wouldn’t use his glass-made shells: video (3 min.).

The shells were simply made for lefties! Robert then switched his makeshifts to some more hospitable.

Florence Casse, Namur, Belgium

From: Robert A. Rushton (reloquent gmail.com)
Subject: cack-handed

As a naturally left-handed person, I feel fortunate that as a child I was not forced into writing with my right hand as so many of my contemporaries were. Nevertheless, I continue to live in a world built for right-handed people, from scissors and firearm safeties to power tools. Biased language is also a part of that world. An antonym of today’s word is dexterous, implying that right-handed people are more graceful and competent than left-handed people. Evidence to support this idea may be based on the extra effort and thought that left-handed people need in order to adapt to what for us is a mirror world.

Rob Rushton, Brookline, New Hampshire

From: James Eisner (james.eisner ntlworld.com)
Subject: Cosmological time

It took less than an hour to make the atoms, a few hundred million years to make the stars and planets, but five billion years to make man! -George Gamow, physicist and cosmologist (4 Mar 1904-1968)

Nice quotation from the great George Gamov. Of course, those times have since been greatly revised:
It took 370,000 years for the first atoms proper (as opposed to nuclei or ions) to come together, then hundreds of millions of years for the first stars and planets to form, but nine billion years for our Sun (a second or third generation star) and its planets to form. As for H. sapiens, that took 13.8 billion years - essentially the entire age of the universe. Our species is only a few hundred thousand years old, so a completely insignificant timespan in comparison to the universe!

James Eisner, Cambridge, UK

Phil "Lefty" Mickelson
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Cack-handed and pugilism

As pro golfers go, right-hander Phil “Lefty” Mickelson is an anomaly. Winner of 57 PGA tournaments and holding nine majors titles, curiously, the only thing he does left-handed is swinging a golf club. As a kid, he mirrored his dad’s right-handed swing, becoming a cack-handed golfer. Since left-handed-swinging golfers are relatively rare on the PGA tour, Phil has acquired the moniker “Lefty”.

"Foxy" Boxy vs "Pugnacious" Pug
Here, we have a boxer squaring off against a pug, admittedly, a decided mismatch. But in a cartoon, anything is possible. Things could get rough and rowdy! Hitting below the belt (normally a no-no) for Pugnacious Pug is almost a certainty, given the extreme height differential. May the best pooch win!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Hands
1. Palmate
2. Two-fisted
3. Pugilism
4. Cack-handed
5. Manuduction
= 1. Distends palm-like
2. Focused
3. Man-to-man match with dukes high
4. Was inept
5. educate
     Y’all, a lark! This week’s theme: Hands
1. Palmate
2. Two-fisted
3. Pugilism
4. Cack-handed
5. Manuduction
= 1. It’s a hand-like shape
2. Muscular stamp
3. Left hook wasted
4. Indict gawky teen
5. Launch mild dame
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)
This week’s theme: Words originating in the hand
1. Palmate
2. Two-fisted
3. Pugilism
4. Cack-handed
5. Manuduction
= AWADs anew:
1. Odd mitt shape; chiroform
2. We damn keen, enthusiastic, thickset and tough
3. Mill
4. Inept
5. Guiding
     This week’s theme: Hands
1. Palmate
2. Two-fisted
3. Pugilism
4. Cack-handed
5. Manuduction
= 1. Hmm, like open hands
2. Macho man attacks, acted wild
3. We use fists, thud!
4. Inept
5. Guide
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Exploring the attic one day,
we encountered a strange stowaway.
Aroused from a calm state,
it showed us its palmate
tail feathers, in quick get-away.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

These leaves, which are palmate, you see,
Fell off of that sycamore tree.
And in the fall season,
These leaves are the reason
At work in my yard I will be.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said Tracy to Hepburn,
“Stay calm, Kate;
Uncoil those fists, make them palmate.
As a Catholic, of course,
I can’t get a divorce,
But I still can without any qualm date.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“In my youth, I was strong and two-fisted.
Along with some friends, I enlisted.
As servicemen, we
would make history,”
the oldster continued, eyes misted.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

He’s known as a drinker two-fisted,
Who’s tried every drink that’s existed.
When drunk he is witty,
But, oh, what a pity --
He can’t leave a bar unassisted.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

While the Russian attack had persisted,
The Ukrainian people resisted.
Against Putin’s great might,
They’d courageously fight.
In a glorious way that’s two-fisted.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I’ll show the whole world I’m two-fisted,”
Said Putin, and Donald’s eyes misted.
He replied, “What a brain
For attacking Ukraine!”
Well, no wonder they’re friends -- they’re both twisted.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Mike Tyson was truly a beast
In his fight for the title, at least.
His main claim to fame
In this pugilist game?
Evander’s right ear was his feast.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Pugilism was her father’s sport.
Yes, he was a feisty sort.
He boxed a bit.
Hit, and got hit.
It helped his ego since he was short.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Opponents the pugilist socks;
Some say he is “cleaning their clocks”.
I say it is awful
And should be unlawful,
This primitive “school of hard knocks”.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Each thump on the boxers’ flesh and bones
brought out pleasured viewers’ sighs and moans.
Pugilism’s thrill
had the added frill
of creating non-stop pheromones.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Discourse” is a sad euphemism
For a riotous mob’s pugilism.
“With pitchfork and torch
Our opponents we’ll scorch;
Our guy lost? Let’s bring back feudalism!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Though cack-handed was the young man,
He devised a good two-fisted plan
To become a great pitcher
And get a lot richer
Than any routine righty can.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Miss Muffet shares breakfast today
with the spider. It’s truly gourmet!
But, being cack-handed,
she’s spilled. Curds have landed
upon him. Cries he, “Where’s the whey?”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The cack-handed cook made a mess;
Her kitchen she’d wreck, more or less.
But all of her dishes
Were really delicious,
And so she was deemed a success.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

It seems that poor Elon was branded,
As being a klutz, and cack-handed.
His IQ was immense,
And he had business sense,
On top of the Forbes List he landed.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“On my sister your crummy shack landed!”
How could anyone be so cack-handed!”
Said the witch. “Your dog, too!
Just you wait till I’m through;
You’ll feel hit by a truck that’s Mack branded.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


I’m grateful to teachers I’ve known.
Without them how would I have grown?
It’s with their instruction
And kind manuduction
That I have come into my own.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

She was gorgeous, her students all felt;
Lovely face, mellow voice, and so svelte!
The assigned manuduction
Might’ve led to seduction
But “Didja know that Miss D’s a Black Belt?”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“In the kitchen you need manuduction?
Martha Stewart needs no introduction!
Today watch this felon
Work wonders with melon,
Some ham, and balsamic reduction
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


As a health food forager, Euell Gibbons stuck to his diet, and only hearts of palmate.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

The mutant palmate anyone who tried to take its coconuts.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Ah once walked into the bedroom and saw palmate with ma,” the little boy told his friend.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Edward Alvarez, a mixed martial arts champion as a teenager was known as Two-fist Ed.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Because of the pandemic, the two-fisted instead of shaking hands.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said Jack after running up the hill, “Pugilism-y body as sweaty and smelly as yours?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Foraging in the streets of Delhi, the generous ma-cack-handed half its lunch to its friend.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The Rasta read the “Do Not Feed the Wildlife” sign with chagrin and mumbled, “Mon, you ducks shun!”
-Debbi Dolan, Bronx, New York (turlan optonline.net)

The Tipping Point
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: A Tipping Point

Last week, President Biden announced his nominee for the vacant US Supreme Court seat: the first African-American woman poised to be confirmed to the Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. If Jackson is confirmed by the Senate, likely a solid unanimous bloc Dem “yea” vote, and a possible few GOP nods, she will have broken a glass ceiling, of sorts, that has stood for centuries. Systemic racism has undoubtedly kept Black women off the SCOTUS bench. Jackson’s confirmation will be a start in balancing the scales of justice.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Beauty is the purgation of superfluities. -Michelangelo Buonarroti, sculptor, painter, architect, and poet (6 Mar 1475-1564)

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