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Jan 8, 2023
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AWADmail Issue 1071

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

Sponsor’s Message: “Way better than Wordle.” One Up! is the most marvelous, Machiavellian cure for cabin fever ever: No board. No complicated rules. No mercy. Just real-world fun that’s guaranteed to ruin any family get-together or holiday. Wicked, Wicked Twofer Special ends at midnight. A devilish gift. Shop now.

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

Is Iceland’s Language a Norse Code -- or Legacy of Celtic Settlers?
The Guardian

Welsh Language: Non-Binary Speakers Want Gender-Neutral Help

From: Pierre-Alexandre Sicart (PA_Sicart hotmail.com)
Subject: About Scrabalize

This is genius!

This Is Genius

Pierre-Alexandre Sicart, Midi-Pyrenees, France

From: Charles O’Reilly (charliez0726 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hark

Thanks for sending me down the Scrabalize rabbit hole this morning. This board of the names of the 67 Florida counties is, indeed, frame-worthy. I appreciate all your effort in creating this.

Florida's 67 Counties

Charles O’Reilly, Dunedin, Florida

From: Jon von Gunten (jon globescope.us)
Subject: Scrabble

My in-laws “innocently” gave me two qualifying tests when it became clear their daughter and I were serious. The second was a game of Scrabble with Mom, a crossword puzzle fanatic.

Mainly through luck o’ the draw I beat her by a few points. I made sure she didn’t get a rematch!

Jon von Gunten, Los Angeles, California

From: Robie Johanson (rjohanson811 gmail.com)
Subject: Scrabalize

About 25 years ago my good friend invited me and six other girlfriends from high school (we were in our 60s at the time) to her cabin on the shore of Lake Superior. We all spent almost a week there playing Scrabble, various card games, doing crafts, shopping, talking and laughing. A grand time was had by all. When I got home I took out my Scrabble set and made a crossword puzzle thank you note. I used all 100 tiles and made words that were significant to the “Girls Week”. Then I took a picture and sent it to the hostess. It was a hit!

Robie Johanson, Arlington Heights, Illinois

From: Jill Ferguson (pamojamama gmail.com)
Subject: Scrabble

We had a scrabble game in our home for years. My husband, Bernhard Kendler, was an editor at Cornell University Press. To play a word game with him would have been unwise. We left the package sealed.

Jill Ferguson, Columbia, South Carolina

From: Jim Talens (jtalens verizon.net)
Subject: Scrabble footnote

With her family watching, I had a big fight with my then-girlfriend over a Scrabble word I conjured: Zoots, short for Zoot suits. I think it was around 1974. Zoots represented a game-winning number of points for me and consumed all my tiles. She was adamant it was not a legitimate word because it wasn’t in her dictionary; but I was equally insistent given it was for the game and certainly seemed a proper reference to Zoot suits! As you might imagine, this did not portend a continuing relationship.

Flash forward 48 years. By the oddest coincidence, our retirement community in Florida lists that girl’s mother as a resident, at age 101. The girl, now in her seventies, is divorced (duh!) and we are in text contact! She remembers Zoots all too well.

Jim Talens, McLean, Virginia

From: Dave Krueger (davebear centurytel.net)
Subject: Hark

I was teaching music to a fourth grade class. We had sung “Over the river and through the wood” and “Hark, the herald angels sing”. A student asked what “hark” meant. After some discussion a boy who rarely spoke in class waved his hand wildly. “I know, I know, it means shut up.”

DG Krueger, New York, New York

From: John Wallace (verbloodt gmail.com)
Subject: Hark!

My favorite joke.

John Wallace, San Diego, California

From: Marc Davidson (flueln hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day-- tarn

Not to forget the most famous use of tarn (from Edgar Allan Poe’s “Ulalume”)

It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

Marc Davidson, Ormond, Florida

From: Paul Castaldi (paulcast55 verizon.net)
Subject: What In Tarnation...

I predict that you will receive a deluge of comments from persons reporting that they became acquainted with the word tarn when reading Edgar Allan Poe’s 1839 short story “The Fall of the House of Usher”.

Paul Castaldi, Havertown, Pennsylvania

From: Ian Horsewell (ianhorsewell gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--topos

Another meaning is that topo is short for a topographic map, used by walkers and climbers. They might even show a tarn!

Ian Horsewell, Leicester, UK

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy One Up! -- Stealing is the name of the game.

From: Michael Barr (barr math.mcgill.ca)
Subject: topos

Topos is also a mathematical term. I am coauthor of a book called Toposes, Triples and Theories. There is a lively debate whether the plural is toposes or the Greek plural topoi. Obviously, I am in the toposes camp. I figure if we don’t use the Greek cases, we shouldn’t use their plural. French mathematicians tend to use topos singular and plural.

Michael Barr, Montreal, Canada

From: Hugh Theodore (via website comments)
Subject: topos

My father, who read the Bible in Greek, used topos for a lavatory. At his theological college (Mirfield, England, in the early 1930s, where all students had a more than working knowledge of ancient Greek) the lavatory was known as the topos, and he continued to use this term through my childhood and adolescent years. I later came across the usage by CR fathers (whose mother house is Mirfield). Whether this usage was confined to Mirfield, which I doubt, or had a more widespread use, I do not know

Hugh Theodore, Cape Town, South Africa

From: Baruch Kahana (baruch.kahana yahoo.com)
Subject: Topos

From topos we have isotope, meaning: equal or same place, that is, the same place in the periodic table of the elements. Uranium-235 and uranium-238 are isotopes of uranium, as each has 92 protons, and therefore the same place in the Periodic Table.

Baruch E. Kahana, MD, Miami Beach, Florida

From: Barbara Bryant (curtbarb gmail.com)
Subject: Spiv

The word spiv immediately brought to mind the newly elected House Representative from New York, George Santos. His lies, exaggerations, and stolen checkbook shenanigans seem to fit the description.

Barbara Bryant, Stuart, Florida

From: William Politt (william.03281 gmail.com)
Subject: Spiv

Retail salespeople are (were?) frequently given spiffs, cash rewards for selling particularly high profit margin products instead of the heavily advertised and discounted lines. We received them both in-house and from visiting sales representatives, and they were a handy off-the-books supplement to salary and/or regular commission. The practice was also commonplace in Britain, where the payments were called spivs.

William Politt, Weare, New Hampshire

From: Marco Moschetta (marco.moschetta paragoncf.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--spiv

In finance, a SPIV is a Special Purpose Investment Vehicle. A spiv, more often than one would expect.

Marco Moschetta, Kiev, Ukraine

From: Paul Lavings (paul bridgegear.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--spiv

I was told many years ago this was simply VIPs spelt backwards.

Paul Lavings Bridgegear, Figtree, Australia

From: Claude Galinsky (cmgalinsky gmail.com)
Subject: Rive

A riving knife is a safety feature on a table saw. It’s a piece of metal which follows the blade to hold the cut pieces of wood apart and keep them from binding on the blade and being thrown toward the user at high speed.

Claude Galinsky, Westford, Massachusetts

From: Kiko Denzer (kiko handprintpress.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--rive

Traditionally, to rive meant to split wood parallel with the grain, rather than cutting across it, as a chainsaw would. Woods like oak and cedar will split beautifully straight and true, making long even boards with little effort. The natives of the Pacific Northwest would even split boards out of living trees, which would then heal over the wound. The Vikings made their beautiful ships from riven oak boards. The word also shares a root with the words river and rival -- a rival being the person with whom you have to share the river.

Kiko Denzer, Blodgett, Oregon

From: Alice Davis (glalice earthline.net)
Subject: Rive

“There will come a time
When rivers flow unchecked
And the machines of humankind are red with rust
There will come a time
When trees no longer fall
Riven by the chainsaw’s eager blade.”
Restless; Glory Days; Earth First! (Tucson, Arizona); Winter 2022.

Oh, to be alive when this time comes. There used to be three big, healthy oak trees behind our home which were cut down for no apparent reason. When we tried to find out why, none of the workers knew. One commented he thought the owner of the property just didn’t want to take the chance they would fall and cause damages. Made us so sad. I actually wept over the terrible waste and, yes, cruelty of it all.

Alice Davis, Blacksburg, Virginia

Life-Long Grifter
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: spiv and rive

Trump, the quintessential master of the art-of-the-con, is a prime exemplar of our word spiv. The list of his failed businesses is gobsmacking, from his Trump University scam, the Taj Mahal implosion, to the Trump Castle embarrassment. Everything he touches turns into fool’s gold... or multiple lawsuits.

Riven Asunder
As a long-lapsed wood sculptor, I know it’s critical to make sure “green” wood should have sat for many months in a dry space, or ideally be kiln-dried to avoid “checking” (splitting), before ever meeting up with a chisel or rasp. In this scenario, a veteran sculptor revisits his figurative wood sculpture he’d carved many moons ago, only to discover that it’s riven asunder.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Misc words
1. Hark
2. Tarn
3. Topos
4. Spiv
5. Rive
= 1. Heeds
2. Norse swim park
3. Theme, as TV twist
4. Crook
5. Rip, shiv
= 1. Watch
2. Mere tons swim
3. Trope
4. Skeet; shark
5. Shiv’s rip; void
= 1. Ask them to stop
2. Vista
3. View in works
4. Schemer
5. Rip; shred
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina
(dharamkk2 gmail.com)
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand
(alfiesdad ymail.com)
-Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin
(winslowjosiah gmail.com)

This week’s theme: Miscellaneous words
1. Hark
2. Tarn
3. Topos
4. Spiv
5. Rive
= 1. Listen
2. Lake, mere with vista
3. Trope
4. Swish crook
5. Sever, smash, pound
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand
(jalofts xtra.co.nz)

This week’s core theme: Misc words i. e.
1. Hark
2. Tarn
3. Topos
4. Spiv
5. Rive
= 1. So heed
2. Reservoir view
3. Twitter topic
4. Ms. Sharpie
5. Knock, smash
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India
(mukherjis hotmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



As the animals board Noah’s ark,
He addresses them all, saying “Hark!
Enough of this riot!
Let’s have peace and quiet.
No snarling, no growling, no bark!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

In olden days teachers said, “Hark!
My words you should carefully mark!”
But now I surmise
“Hey, listen, you guys!”
Is what one’s more likely to bark.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

It would seem that my old Grandpa Jack
Was most always engaged to hark back.
In the past, he would find
A serene peace of mind,
Which today, he would say, that we lack.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Here come Nemo and Dory, guys, hark!
That means dinner is served!” said the shark.
But his friends answered, “Dude,
Fish are friends now, not food;
In this film, that’s our character arc.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


On the whole, skinny dipping is fun,
Though first plunge, winter mornings, can stun,
And I curse, “Golly-darn!”
(It’s damn cold in the tarn --
And the shrinkage can undermine one.)
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Our grandfather’s eyes always misted
when now and again he insisted
on spinning a yarn
about an old tarn
that may or may not have existed.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The hiker who needed a break
Was told to go jump in the lake.
When he did, he said, “Darn!
I could freeze in this tarn!
I think that I’ve made a mistake.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Now old Sven, he had too much to drink.
When he came home, his wife cried, “You stink!”
He was all soaking wet.
The excuse that she’d get
Was, “I fell in that darn tarn, I think.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“To me, this loch’s merely a tarn,”
Said Nessie, “not big enough. Darn!
Paparazzi in boats
Always hound me for quotes
And then spin some fantastical yarn.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


For flying too close to the sun,
Poor Icarus soon came undone.
Greeks loved certain themes,
And clearly it seems
The topos of hubris was one.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“It’s so stupid,” said Deimos to Phobos,
“That little green men are a topos.”
“It’s from Earthlings in bars
Talking nonsense,” said Mars,
“But they’ve sent rovers now to take photos.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


I live a most glamorous life;
Three women think they’ll be my wife.
Though I dress like a spiv
In my hand there’s a shiv,
And that’s why I’m called Mack the Knife.
-Michael Goldberg, Providence, Rhode Island (michaelhgoldberg verizon.net)

“That man is as bad as can be,”
says her dad. She replies, “I agree.
But as long as I live
I will not find a spiv
who will dress quite as sharply as he!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A life filled with crime did he live,
But still she felt love for that spiv.
She will see him again
When she visits the pen
And brings him a cake with a shiv.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Past flops were too distant to rile;
Clients warmed to the spiv’s oily smile.
They could once again dream,
With his new raffle scheme:
“Win the Taj Mahal! Live there in style!”
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

The spiv in that tavern’s darn good!
Not seeming like some creepy hood,
He’s sharp as a tack;
But good luck getting back
Any dough which you know that you should!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

I hope there’s a judge that will give
A sentence that cuts like a shiv,
And to jail send the rump
Of ex-Prez Donald Trump,
The most guilty con man, and a spiv.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Though each victim has little to give,
There’s a lot of them,” chuckled the spiv.
“Through my PACs, a fake school,
My foundation -- I drool!
I will drain their accounts like a sieve!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Man and wife, forty years we have striven,
And at last to divorce we are driven.
Though we twain were once one,
It has never been fun,
So by judge’s decree we’ve been riven.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Republicans cannot agree
On who the next Speaker will be.
The party is riven;
Disorder’s a given,
And meanwhile we play wait and see.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“You’ll be sixth on his long list of wives,
And I see you’re the one who survives,”
Said the psychic. “Your star
Will shine brightly, Miss Parr,
Once some heads from their shoulders he rives.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Hardy har hark-itty,” chuckled Blackbeard at the cat video.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“The riot will tarn-ish his legacy!” Sean Hannity texted Mark Meadows.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When the photographer was ready, the foot model struck an alluring topos.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Let’spiv-ot around this issue and get back to it later,” said the union arbitrator.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Another day, another rive-al for the Speaker job,” sighed Kevin McCarthy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

On our silver anniversary, my wife HARKened back to the time when she worried that her silver jewelry might TARNish one day. TOPOS a question, would she appear to be a SPIVvy dresser if she were to arRIVE in fancy clothes?
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn... and change. -Carl Rogers, psychologist (8 Jan 1902-1987)

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