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Aug 21, 2022
This week’s theme
Words that aren’t what they appear to be

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AWADmail Issue 1051

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

Sponsor’s Message: Dumbed-down summer blues? Try some intellectual distancing instead: The Official Old’s Cool Education II is “A Wiseacre’s Delight,” three pocket-sized handbooks that are full of wonderment and glee, recalcitrance and wit. Trivia too: Who’s on first? How is the cow? Smart-Aleck Special is a wicked cheap call to intellectual adventure. Shop now.

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

The Ukraine War Is Also Being Fought Over Language

How English Is Becoming a Popular Option in Algeria

From: Anu Garg (words wordsmith.org)
Subject: Linguistic mischiefs

In this week’s intro I invited our readers to send their favorite examples of homophones, false cognates, and other linguistic mischiefs. Here’s a selection.

Pixilated, a funny word I just learned vs pixelated.
-Ira Hammerman, Rehovot, Israel (sabaira4 gmail.com)

In French un livre = Book, une livre = pound. La livre is also the word for currency, a coin.
-Susan Robbins, Long Island, New York (ssusiessusie yahoo.com)

The Spanish “embarazada” looks like the English “embarrass”, but it means “pregnant”.
-Melody Friedenthal, Worcester, Massachusetts (friedenthalmelody gmail.com)

The French use full “pleine” for “pregnant” ... so after a good dinner you would not say “Je suis plein” for the same reasons.
-Oneblankspace (via website comments)

Confection -- if you see a sign that says confection in Belgium it is not about candy, it’s about tailoring.
-Sunny Hallanan, Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium (rector allsaints.be)

As a professional musician (retired as of this summer), I’ve always found rehearsal to be a strange word. How could the first group session be called a rehearsal when we had yet to hearse it the first time?
-Tom Reel, Double Bassist, Virginia Symphony, Norfolk, Virginia (tom.reel cox.net)

As a former practicing dentist, my favorite homograph is “number”. (The kind one uses to count, or of a part of the body that gets more and more numb with the onset of local anesthesia.
-Paul Hoffman, New York, New York (paul hoffman.im)

Last night my son and I were teasing my wife when she talked about dethawing some food to cook.
-Tim Sands, Dillingham, Alaska (tim.sands alaska.gov)

Not exactly an example, but I have started a game of guessing drug functions based on their (ridiculous?) brand names. Examples:
Cytalux - Builds luxury dwellings for cell cultures.
Voxzogo - helps people go to the zoo and sing to the animals
Aduhelm - encourages adulation of leaders (those at the helm) -Liza Levy, Paris, Kentucky (sparkydoc3.14159 gmail.com)

From: Janine Harris-Wheatley (janinehw20 gmail.com)
Subject: Plutography

Coincidentally, I was just listening to a Cafe Studios podcast called Now and Then. Two accomplished history professors reflect on the American historic roots of today’s political issues. The Aug 9 episode was called Does Anyone Love Taxes?

They relate how in the post Civil War period, when income taxes were first introduced, the common people equated taxation with representation so they were pleased to pay taxes if that meant their weight of numbers could influence the government more than those individuals with great amounts of wealth.

As income taxes became progressive, taxing the rich at a higher rate -- and perhaps cutting into their sumptuous lifestyles -- the plutocrats used the available media to influence popular opinion. Now taxation is considered a bad thing. The 95% are still required to pay taxes but it is often the plutocrats, individuals and wealthy corporations, who pay the least while exercising the most influence on government decisions.

Janine Harris-Wheatley, Tittenham, Canada

From: Phyllis Charnyllis (charnyllis nyc.rr.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--irredentist

Reminds me of a Seinfeldian word: anti-dentite (video, 1 min.).

Phyllis Charney, New York, New York

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

At the time of the Treaty of Trianon made between the victorious allies Great Britain, France, and Italy and the defeated former Austro-Hungarian Empire after WWI, the following slogan (loosely translated) catapulted Admiral Horthy, a fascist if there ever was one, into power:

“Truncated Hungary is no country, complete Hungary is heaven.” (Variously attributed to the poet Mihaly Babits as well as obscure country parsons like Pal Szabo.)

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Bryan Todd (bryansink yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--recurse

Fractals are, of course, a beautiful illustration of this.

Bryan Todd, Lincoln, Nebraska

From: Pascal Pagnoux (pascal.pagnoux gmail.com)
Subject: Recurse

Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma album cover seems a good illustration too with the added bonus that the band members change places and positions from one frame to the next.

Pascal Pagnoux, Saint Gaudens, France

From: Wendy Miller (wendym42 icloud.com)
Subject: recurse

As an example, the famous work by Norman Rockwell of him painting a portrait of himself painting a portrait of himself painting.

Norman Rockwell triple self-portrait
Triple Self-Portrait, 1960

Wendy Miller, Haifa, Israel

From: Simon Nicol (simon fairportconvention.com)
Subject: fifth-order recursive island

This is a fifth-order recursive island. An island in a lake in an island in a lake, etc. (Google Maps)

Simon Nicol, Canterbury, UK

Email of the Week brought to you buy The Official Old’s Cool Education II -- “A masterpiece.” -Tim Leatherman

From: Alan W. Ritch (aritch berkeley.edu)
Subject: Recursive scene at Musée d’Orsay

I took this picture on a visit to Paris and my favorite repurposed train station in 2016. At that time Orsay was was one of the few world-class art museums that did not allow photography. I obeyed the rules until I came across this scene in a small side gallery with no monitors in sight.

Recursive scene at Musée d'Orsay

I was struck by the similar hair style of the artist and her subjects. I was too shy to ask her name. I wish I had done so if only to congratulate her on her competence.

Alan Ritch, Santa Cruz, California

From: John Paulling (jpaulling hotmail.com)
Subject: recurse

For an example of recursion, read this comment.

John Paulling, Greeneville, Tennessee

From: Cronin B. Vining (cvining2009 cvining.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--recurse

Sex is recursive. In computer terms, doing it launches a process that does it again. And so on...

Cronin ‘Con’ Vining, Blaine, Washington

From: Dave (writesdave gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--recurse

For the sake of decorum, I will not link the video, but a scene from the first season of the HBO drama The Wire features two detectives looking over a crime scene using a certain word repeatedly and as every part of speech. Highlights include one detective getting his finger pinched with a steel tape (an exclamation), frustration over not finding a piece of evidence (a lamentation) and, eventually, finding a critical piece of evidence (an excited exclamation, practically muttered under his breath, though).

I would call this recursive cursing.

Dave Shelles, Acworth, Georgia

From: Allison Walters (aligatorz gmail.com)
Subject: Recurse

My neighbors when they are screaming at each other in the front yard with the same three four-letter words! And I’m shouting out my door (after 20 minutes of this), “Get a dictionary! Be creative and learn some new names to call each other.”

Allison Walters, Merlin, Oregon

From: Craig Good (clgood me.com)
Subject: decalcomania

Thanks for demystifynig the etymology of a Spanish word for me. English dropped the tail end to get the terse decal, while Spanish dropped the first part to get the longer calcomania.

Quite in character for both languages.

Craig Good, Vallejo, California

From: Flavia Schepmans (missfleavanchap gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--decalcomania

When I was little, in the 70s, in my French-speaking home, my Belgian parents called stickers calcomanies. Even though now, in France, nobody calls them that. People call stickers “auto-collants” or the anglicised “stickers” (pronounced “stee-kers” with a French “r” sound).

Flavia Schepmans, Paris, France

From: Bruno Hivert (pruneau gmail.com)
Subject: decalcomania

Obligatory musicale quote: Richard Gotainer - Le Mambo du Décalco (video, 4 min.) English translation.

Bruno Hivert, Montreal, Canada

From: Stephanie Zirkin (sadazik2 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--decalcomania

My late mother-in-law, born in NYC in 1918, called them cockamamies [derived from decalcomania].

Stephanie Zirkin, Greenbelt, Maryland

From: Karen Folsom (kgfols yahoo.com)
Subject: Plutography and decalcomania


Karen Folsom, Santa Barbara, California

Seeing Red
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: miniate and plutography

In registering the definition of our word miniate in my noggin, I was immediately seeing red. For some reason, John Steinbeck’s 1937 novella, The Red Pony, popped into my brain.. A mockup for a cover design for the book with the title emblazoned in red came to mind, with a rusty equine atop a steep mesa bathed in the heat of the burning-red desert sun.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Flealess
Who better to be the posterboy for our word plutography than the classic Disney animated canine, Pluto? Here, I’ve pictured Pluto relaxing poolside, leading a life of luxury and leisure, in a setting reminiscent of the palatial grounds of Hearst Castle. The late host of TV reality show Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, Robin Leach, must be rolling in his grave. Ha! “Milk Bone wishes and Alpo dreams!”

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Words that aren’t what they appear to be
1. Plutography
2. Miniate
3. Irredentist
4. Recurse
5. Decalcomania
= 1. Study the rich genre
2. Decorate a wee ms with red paint
3. It means: Is that the pre-war Ukraine?
4. Loop, repeat
5. Attach symbol
     This week’s great theme: Words that aren’t what they appear to be
1. Plutography
2. Miniate
3. Irredentist
4. Recurse
5. Decalcomania
= 1. Get a Tatler mag
2. Pray! Decorate book with pith
3. Claim terrain here
4. When they want, iterate it
5. Transposed muse’s crude shape
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)
This week’s theme: Words that aren’t what they appear to be
1. Plutography
2. Miniate
3. Irredentist
4. Recurse
5. Decalcomania
= 1. The super-rich set
2. Decorate a book with art
3. Reunite my separated area
4. Name the thing with its own term
5. Apply decals
     This week’s words aren’t what they appear to be
1. Plutography
2. Miniate
3. Irredentist
4. Recurse
5. Decalcomania
= 1. Material re the wealthy and distinguished may wow
2. Rubricate
3. A proponent
4. Repeat the process
5. A sticker
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Filthy rich and promiscuous male?
Let plutography manage your tale.
Kiss-and-tell always sells,
And nefarious swells
Can throw-in with their sojourns in jail.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmesbtconnect.com)

“Plutography’s long been my goal,”
says he. “But I don’t know a soul
who is famous or rich,
so I can’t scratch that itch.
It’s completely beyond my control!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Plutography was his domain;
He showed us what wealth could obtain.
Your own plane, your own beach --
We would watch Robin Leach
And envy those drinking champagne.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)


He’d miniate titles in red,
Or sometimes in silver instead.
If people asked why,
“It pleases the eye,”
The wise old calligrapher said.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“With this abbey, my son, you’d affiliate?
Then your skills,” said the monk, “please delineate.”
“Well, your grapes I could squash,”
Said the youth, “your robes wash,
And your manuscripts beautifully miniate.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“You’ve had plenty of time to restore
the land that I owned here before.
So what’s your intent?” hissed
the old irredentist.
Return it, or else! This means war!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Xi Jinping, Adolph Hitler, Vlad Putin
This triumvirate without disputin’
Irridentists are they.
They’re evil, but hey,
They make history so rootin’ tootin’.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Putin, with self-proclaimed clamor
Puts small countries under the hammer.
An irredentist who’s lying
Is so terrifying --
That faker belongs in a slammer!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Irredentists have started a war
Over holdings they’d like to restore.
But I am not rootin’
For Vladimir Putin
Whose attack on Ukraine I deplore.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“He’s coming,” proclaimed the Adventist,
“And to Him we shall all be apprenticed.
He’ll descend from his berth
To reclaim the whole Earth;
He’s our Lord Jesus Christ Irredentist.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The artist was known for his schtick,
A sort of a visual trick.
His patterns recursed,
And what was the worst,
Those patterns were making me sick.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Those of us who believe in rebirth
fret we could (from our past lives) unearth
a recursed Karmic debt
that’s so large, we are set
for unending repeats here on Earth.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Her one line she’d rehearse and rehearse,
With the hopes she’d improve with recurse.
But, on opening night,
She had awful stage fright,
So she froze, and it couldn’t be worse.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

The revolving door went in reverse,
Then forward again, such recurse
Was the fault of the gears.
It went on for years.
For the store it could not have been worse.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

A limerick isn’t free verse!
Its five lines must be funny and terse.
Students ask all the time,
“What of meter and rhyme?”
“Use the limerick form,” I recurse.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


To be seen on the scene without tats
Is, these days, to draw scorn from the brats.
Decalcomania ink
Gives me street cred’, I think,
When I hang with those hip and cool cats.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmesbtconnect.com)

Looks as though you’ve been having a ball,
so we really can’t blame you at all.
But decalcomania
isn’t too brainy, ya
know. And it’s ruined this wall!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A pretty young girl from Romania
Was addicted to decalcomania.
All day in her knickers,
She’d fool with her stickers;
“Zabrina,” said friends, “Zat’s insane o’ ya!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“I’m having trouble drawing Mickey’s dog,” said the Disney cartoonist. “Is there an expert in Plutography?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

My Aunt Miniate a whole jar of gefilte fish for lunch last Passover.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

When his sweetheart collapsed after the cheese tasting, Mickey called 911 shouting, “It must be something Miniate!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Donald, with his Big Macs in the White House... in four years, I wonder, how miniate he?
-David Sacks, Avondale Estates, Georgia (david davidsacks-rla.com)

“Don’t f-irredentist,” she told her child, “he will make your toothache all better.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said the East London body shop owner, “No worries, guvnuh, ‘irridentist-otally fixable!”
-David Sacks, Avondale Estates, Georgia (david davidsacks-rla.com)

Four weeks, you may curse and recurse, three weeks, the potion couldn’t be worse,” the witches joked in song.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I binge on math during the day, but then purge it from my mind at night,” the girl told her decalcomania therapist.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Crusader Cheney
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Crusader Cheney

Liz Cheney was defeated in her Wyoming primary this week by a Big Lie sycophant of Trump, ending her three-terms as one of the staunchest conservative legislators in the House. Undeterred, Cheney gave a forceful, optimistic post-primary speech in which she doubled down on her mission to defend democracy and making sure that Trump never runs for the presidency again. She’s labelled her crusade “The Great Task”. Here, I pictured her as a medieval-era knight, where it was not uncommon for novice (and journeymen) jousting knights to practice their charges on hanging effigies, not unlike a piñata.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

I have no respect for people who deliberately try to be weird to attract attention, but if that’s who you honestly are, you shouldn’t try to “normalize” yourself. -Alicia Witt, actress, singer-songwriter, and pianist (b. 21 Aug 1975)

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