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AWADmail Issue 1061

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

Sponsor’s Message: “Wondrous bits of snippetry in colorful handbooks.” The Official Old’s Cool Education, three pocket-sized guides to the good life are also “wicked iconic, and terribly fun.” Shakespeare, history, how-tos, gamesmanship and wit. Grayganglia trivia too: What’s Sleeping Beauty’s real name? 1 ÷ 0 = ? How do you get down from a duck? Wiseacre Special ends at midnight tonight. Shop now!

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

Phrasebooks Are Dying Out
The Economist

AI Is Changing Scientists’ Understanding of Language Learning -- and Raising Questions About an Innate Grammar
The Conversation

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

What annoys you, I asked this week, and readers’ messages poured in. Sounds and language dominated, but there were plenty of other pet peeves. Here’s a selection.

I’m reminded of my mother telling me that when my father’s breathing made her crazy, she knew it was time to get divorced.
-Ann Seligman, New York, New York (acseligman msas.net)

My husband cracked his knuckles incessantly. It drove me crazy; so after ten years of gritting my teeth (and wearing them down), I divorced him.
-Sherry Sisson, Westmont, New Jersey (sleesisson gmail.com)

When I married my husband, I had a difficult time putting up with his slurping soup! How have I adjusted? We’ve been married 56 years! I still hate the slurping, but somehow the “allergy” has gotten lost in the shuffle.
-Judy Sabatino, Girard, Ohio (memectp neo.rr.com)

I presume that the sound of fingernails screeching along the ol’ blackboard (for you young ‘ups, this was the predecessor of the ubiquitous white marker board) would characterize misophonia for many of us.
-Joe Galeota, Boston, Massachusetts (jgaleota gmail.com)

What sound drives me crazy? Whistling. Most people do it badly, off key or tunelessly, like a demented teapot. I’d rather listen to someone scrape their fingernails on a chalkboard.
-Jeanne Wetherington, Tampa, Florida (jwetherington1 verizon.net)

I don’t know why but what jangles my nerves the most is empty wire hangers jangling against each other in a closet. We have only wood or plastic hangers in our house. I have even replaced the wire hangers in a relative’s guest room because it is not a good start to a family visit.
-Janine Harris-Wheatley, Tottenham, Canada (janinehw20 gmail.com)

As a small child I hated to look at anybody’s feet and screamed when someone appeared to me barefooted.
-Agnes Stieda, Calgary, Canada (agnesvstieda gmail.com)

What annoys me? The sound of another person chewing! It is so weird. It is not physically painful, but it is as unpleasant as a bad headache. How do I handle it? I eat something. The sound of my chewing completely cancels the effect. So weird!
-Tony Dillof, Detroit, Michigan (dillof wayne.edu)

I can’t stand the sight (or noise) of someone chewing gum. Back in Baltimore, where I’m from, I rode buses everywhere, and it would annoy me no end to see a young woman, well turned out, groomed perfectly, loudly chewing and popping her gum.
-Mary Kaye Bates, West Palm Beach, Florida (wordlady1 comcast.net)

From Psychology Today: “Hate Noise? You Might Be a Genius
-John Craw, Glenford, Ohio (thecrawh gmail.com)

I can’t tolerate human voices first thing when I get up, especially the artificially cheerful/upbeat voices of morning talk shows.
-Kathryn Smith (via website comments)

People in line at the store, especially those with cartful of stuff, who wait till the end to start looking for their wallets irritate and mystify me. Seriously, are they surprised there will be a need to pay or are they passive-aggressive?
-Lola Fields, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (thisoldwoman gmail.com)

I am from Hungary and was brought up to never wear a hat once inside someone’s house, and especially not at the table. I left Hungary 64 years ago, but to this day seeing someone (a man) in a hat or baseball cap at the table still irritates me. These days it is a daily annoyance.
-Peter Stangl, Palo Alto, California (petersss stanford.edu)

I learned in Japan that slurping soup (usually soba) was expected -- it spread the flavor in your mouth and cooled it at the same time. I totally loved doing it!
-Peter B. Ives, Albuquerque, New Mexico (pives unm.edu)

I’m driven nuts by ubiquitous piped-in music. It’s like an aural assault.
-Ellen D. Murphy, Brooklyn, New York (radochas gmail.com)

I find the following also unbearable: crackling candy wrappers, pen clicking, finger tapping, and any other ongoing and “unnecessary” noises. My understanding husband does his best, but he does love those giant hard pretzels!
-Elka Grisham, Madison, New Jersey (elkagrisham gmail.com)

Politicians (misotheocrats) who think they know what some imaginary god wants for America. Examples:
  • “Today we wake up in a state where the church doors are open and the abortion clinic’s doors are closed. All the Glory to God the Father! Amen!” (Tate Reeves, MS governor)
  • “Let’s bring back the basics: God, guns and glory!” (Kari Lake, candidate for the AZ governor)
  • “In November, we are going to take our state back, and God will make it so.” (Doug Mastriano, PA candidate for governor)
I overcome this intolerance by voting for their opponents or, if that’s not possible, contributing to the opposing candidate campaigns.
-Donald B. Ardel, Madison, Wisconsin (awr.realwellness gmail.com)

What annoys me? The semi-annual flip-floppery of standard time and daylight time. We can fiddle with our clocks all we want, but the Earth continues to rotate on its axis, ignoring us completely.
-Baruch E. Kahana, MD, Miami Beach, Florida (baruch.kahana yahoo.com)

Perfumes. Laundry detergents and soaps. Unnecessary scents that people add to just about everything. A positive outcome of Covid is that wearing a mask has helped with my hyperosmia.
-Bonnie House, Phillipston, Massachusetts (bonbon3444 gmail.com)

We live in the mountains in a beautiful forest and I love the sounds (and smells) of nature. The past few years the natural sounds and smells have been overpowered by the very loud and stinky motorized recreational vehicles that are tearing through the forests. I had found ways to appreciate my husband’s chewing sounds, happy that he was enjoying his food. So far I have not found a way to appreciate the sounds of recreational motors. I’d prefer to hear the song of the hermit thrush and breathe in the scent of the forest.
-Venice Kelly, Western Boulder county, Colorado (venicekelly555 gmail.com)

My life revolves around misophonia. Our daughter, 24, suffers from it. It’s actually a psychiatric condition related to OCD, which she also has. We can all eat together, and she can usually tolerate the sounds, but if someone is eating when she is not, the sounds overwhelm her. While food/mouth/nose noises are the primary triggers, there are others. As a senior in high school, when we were just realizing the breadth of the condition, she spent more time out of the Spanish classroom than in it due to an instructor who constantly jingled coins in his pocket or clicked his pen. My fidgeting makes her leave the room, and I can’t unload the dishwasher when she’s around due to the clinking of dishes and silverware. We have left stores and restaurants due to rattling of ventilation or hangers on racks or even dishes. Super-low bass in the sound systems of passing vehicles is intolerable. She tells us that all of these triggers produce “mental pain”, sometimes physical pain, and a strong fight-or-flight response in her, though normally she is easygoing and joyful.
-Laura Bell, Roseville, California (kiddogardener gmail.com)

The use of “myself” instead of “me” drives me insane. If you have any questions, call myself at 555-1212. Not only does it show an over inflated feeling of self worth, but a sad lack of proper grammar.
-Ursula Schleen, Sault Ste Marie, Canada (ursula.schleen sympatico.ca)

I really can’t stand hearing or reading confusion between cardinal and ordinal qualifiers. Even in respected newspapers one can read e.g. “less voters”. Did the journalist mean “lesser voters”, in the sense of “Children of a Lesser God”? A friend of mine who was an elementary school teacher used to tell her students that they wouldn’t ask for “less cookies and fewer milk”.
-Richard Burris, Alexandria, Virginia (r_w_burris comcast.net)

Pictures on a wall, or rugs on a floor, out to alignment with one another.
-Theo Reiner, Kelowna, Canada (theoisnow gmail.com)

From: Mary Ann Cullinan (max.cullinan gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lawfare

There’s now an extension for the concept of lawfare, i.e., a SLAPP suit, an acronym for Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation. My husband is an environmental lawyer and at any given time will be putting out these lawfare and SLAPP suit fires - an ingenious way to tie up your ecologically-minded opponents’ time if they are poor and you are a corporation or a business with deep pockets. Blοοdy hell!

Mary Ann Cullinan, Kenilworth, South Africa

From: Carol P. Freeman (cfreeman96 triad.rr.com)
Subject: Lawfare

The first thing I thought of when I saw this word was the battle one of my personal heroes, Deborah Lipstadt, had to face when she published a book calling David Irving a Holocaust denier. Due to the somewhat arcane laws of libel in the UK, he was able to sue her for libel; she had to prove that he was, in fact, such a denier in order to win the suit. I say “win”. In fact, that suit cost her five years of her life and who knows how much in lawyers’ fees. She spoke at the American Library Association annual meeting before I retired, I believe in 2013. I was thrilled to see her in Ken Burns’ latest documentary, The US and the Holocaust, as one of the experts on the subject. The fight goes on.

Carol Freeman, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

From: Ashe Wilson (awilson suppliesonthefly.com)
Subject: lawfare

Remind you of anyone? *cough forty-five cough*

Ashe Wilson, Canton, Georgia

From: Robert Allen (rallen3129 icloud.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gerontocracy

This Greek root became “real” for me the first time I visited Holy Transfiguration Monastery, at that time in Jamaica Plain, MA, and noticed that all of the monks address the Abbott as “Geronta” which, being translated, is just “elder”!

Robert Allen, Richmond, Virginia

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

The Spartan Council of Elders in Ancient Greece was known as gerousia. It consisted of twenty-eight men of at least sixty years of age, called Gerontes, elected by the public assembly for life. They had supreme power in decision making. According to Plutarch, for instance, they could order that babies who in their judgment would become bad soldiers in adulthood should be exposed to the elements on top of Mount Taygetos and let them die.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: John Ayer (john_ayer comcast.net)
Subject: gamesmanship

One of the earliest chess books, probably six hundred years ago, advised arranging the board so that the sunlight would reflect off it into one’s opponent’s eyes.

John Ayer, Norwich, Connecticut

From: Janet Rizvi (janetrizvi gmail.com)
Subject: Gamesmanship

The classic definition comes in the subtitle of Stephen Potter’s definitive book on the subject, “The Art of Winning Games Without Actually Cheating” (1947). One maxim from the book I always remember: “If you can’t volley, wear purple socks.”

Dr Janet Rizvi, Gurgaon, India

Email of the Week brought to you by The Official Old’s Cool Education -- A masterpiece!” -- Tim Leatherman. Learn more!

From: Arlene Teck (arlene.teck gmail.com)
Subject: gamesmanship

The wickedly witty 1960 British comedy film School for Scoundrels (subtitled How to Win Without Actually Cheating) is, interestingly enough, based on a series of non-fiction self-help books.

Stephen Potter had enjoyed great success with these books, beginning in 1947 with Gamesmanship and continuing with One-Upmanship, Lifemanship, and Supermanship. The idea behind them was to point out how to gain an unfair advantage in almost any situation without having to do anything that was technically illegal or against the rules. Although the intention behind the books was humorous they contained some extraordinarily penetrating insights into the ways in which some people almost invariably win while others almost invariably lose. Peter Ustinov had the idea of turning the ideas in the books into a comedy film and produced the first version of the screenplay although he does not receive a screen credit.

Arlene Teck, Rockaway, New Jersey

Pipe Down
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: misophonia and gamesmanship

Some folk compare the skirl and drone of bagpipes to the screeching and moaning of cats in heat. As a long-lapsed piper from my teen years, I must confess, I have a fondness for the sound of the pipes. Here, a lad and his Scottish deerhound clearly have misophonia, specifically, an aversion to the sound of bagpipes. I concede, appreciation for bagpipe music can be an acquired taste.

In this scenario, our lady poker player puts on her best poker face. Yet she’s employed an even more cunning ruse, wearing a revealing dress. Her rival is holding a medium-strength hand... 3 of a kind. But she may have a royal flush (ten, jack, queen, king, ace) the strongest possible hand in poker. Or, her bluff could be concealing a mediocre hand, say one pair. But she ain’t tellin’.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Karen Folsom (kgfols yahoo.com)
Subject: Gerontocracy

Gerontocracy 2024. God forbid!
Karen Folsom, Santa Barbara, California


This week’s new theme: There’s a word for it
1. Misophonia
2. Lawfare
3. Gerontocracy
4. Gamesmanship
5. Phonophobia
= 1. I hate chomping
2. Woe! Harass with law proceedings
3. Refer memo for OAPs at the top
4. Hm! Sneaky win
5. Abhor noise
     This week’s theme: There’s a word for it
1. Misophonia
2. Lawfare
3. Gerontocracy
4. Gamesmanship
5. Phonophobia
= 1. Oh, we hate a “chomp” noise!
2. Hawkish strategy
3. Old man’s power grab
4. Prime competition
5. Fear of harsh noise
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)
This week’s theme: There’s a word for it
1. Misophonia
2. Lawfare
3. Gerontocracy
4. Gamesmanship
5. Phonophobia
= 1. Hate sonance
3. Hmm, Mr. Biden who is a fogie
4. Trickery, show a stratagem with pooh-pooher
5. Fear noise
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



The noise that they call rock ‘n’ roll
Is taking a terrible toll.
Misophonia it sows.
And as everyone knows,
Real music is what the Grinch stole.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

A disorder with which he is cursed,
Misophonia’s simply the worst!
Our romance is through
Since he heard me chew,
And he felt like his eardrums might burst.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

It has a name! Who would have guessed!
I’d thought I was merely obsessed
When my body reacts toward
Nails on a blackboard.
Misophonia, guys -- it’s no jest!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“On our islet in New Caledonia,”
Said the ad, “you’ll have no misophonia.
Just the waves and a breeze
Blowing gently through trees;
There’s no cell service! No one’ll phone ya!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


We’ll fire off a salvo of writs,
A lethal litigious blitz;
You might call it lawfare
Or just shock-and-awefare --
It’ll blow our opponents to bits.
-Duncan Howarth, Maidstone, UK (duncanhowarth aol.com)

If it’s lawfare they want, here’s our chance.
We’re a nation of lawyers. Advance!
We can issue more writs
Than a schoolhouse has nits.
The subpoena’s replacing the lance.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Our foe we have taken to court,
And now I am glad to report
That from my perspective
This lawfare’s effective --
To bloodshed we need not resort.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“That Zuckerberg guy stole our software,”
Said the Winklevoss twins; “We’ll wage lawfare.”
And they got a payday
The American way,
Sitting back sipping drinks in a lawn chair.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Gerontocracy? Yes, there’s a thought.
Let the elderly rule -- as they ought!
War would cease to exist
As our leaders insist
That the things they’ve mislaid must be sought.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

He gets this advice from his dad:
“So you find gerontocracy bad?
Just think,” declares he,
“how much worse it would be
if the POTUS was just a young lad!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Since wisdom arrives with old age,
Electing a senior’s the rage.
Gerontocracy’s nice,
But it comes at a price --
For bodies wear out at that stage.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Many say you become wise and sage
As you tend to advance in old age.
But young Rishi Sunak,
Does not follow that track.
Gerontocracy’s not on his page.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said the oracle, “Here is my prophecy:
Wherever you turn -- gerontocracy.
Trump, McConnell, and Biden
This wave will be ridin’,
But two will show greater hypocrisy.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Gamesmanship (author Stephen M. Potter)
Is a handy textbook for a plotter;
Full of devious tricks
It shows how you can nix
Mere good skill if you’re rather a rotter.
-Duncan Howarth, Maidstone, UK (duncanhowarth aol.com)

“There’s no point taking part -- you can’t win.”
“I’ll use gamesmanship, sir. It’s no sin.
He will go all to pot,
And keep missing his shot,
When my insults get under his skin.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Political gamesmanship’s why
Dυmb stunts certain governors try.
Poor folks seek asylum;
In planes do they pile ‘em
And off to the Vineyard they fly.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Though our coach said “No more gamesmanship,”
He thought the team he should equip
With a few clever tricks
That we’d need to deep-six
The superior squad’s mental grip.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Good work isn’t always rewarded
And gamesmanship can be quite sordid.
Some others around you
Will often confound you --
Your very best movements are thwarted!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“You’re fired!” his most famous quip,
Was the heart of his foul gamesmanship.
But it got a lot worse,
And our wounds we still nurse
After years in the man’s heinous grip.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“I struck hard when he banged on my door,
Which is why he’s stretched out on the floor.
Phonophobia, see,
Takes possession of me.”
“That’s the third one this week!” “No, it’s four.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Is there any great diff’rence between
these words that are new on the scene?
There’s both misophonia
and phonophobia.
Who can tell apart what the two mean?
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Phonophobia’s what he has got,
For loud noises disturb him a lot.
And so it’s a pity
He lives in the city,
And his nerves are just totally shot.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The sound of her voice she did hate,
So she never would talk on a date.
Phonophobia, bad,
Made her grow very sad.
To be an old maid was her fate.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

I dream of a lovely utopia
Where everyone has phonophobia.
They’d ban horns in our cars
And electric guitars
And send Donald to Outer Mongolia.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Sobbed Oog in group therapy, “Misophonia Neanderthal could see right through me.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Make the lawfare by not applying it to me!” shouted Donald at the rally.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“From now on, verbs shall act as nouns!” The linguist declared a gerontocracy.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I love playing gamesmanship me everything you have,” wrote the enthusiast to The Milton Bradley Company.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

My husband will only use landlines. He suffers from acute cell phonophobia.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“To defeat our phonophobia of death shall stop you, for 72 virgins await you in heaven!” the terrorist exhorted his trainees.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Third Brit PM's a charm ... or a charmer?
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Third Brit PM’s a charm ... or a charmer?

Former Brit PMs Liz Truss and Boris Johnson are history. Rishi Sunak has been sworn in as British PM. Quite the irony that a man of Indian descent should rise to the highest post in a country that exploited and ruled over India for almost two centuries.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

The only thing one can give an artist is leisure in which to work. To give an artist leisure is actually to take part in his creation. -Ezra Pound, poet (30 Oct 1885-1972)

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