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AWADmail Issue 116

March 20, 2004

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages

From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: Re: 10 Years of Wordsmith.org

Thank you for your notes and cards on the tenth anniversary of Wordsmith.org. It took me a week to read all of them. Here's a small selection from the messages received:

From: Rod Thompson (thompsonATih2000.net)
Subject: Re: 10 Years of Wordsmith.org

Wow! Has it been ten years already?

My son set me up originally as a way to ensure my email was working correctly. "Dad, if you don't get the word of the day, your computer isn't working, so call me!" I don't think I have missed a word since then!

Congratulations on your first ten years! Hope I'm receiving your next ten years' worth. "Dad, your computer is fine, you got the word of the day!"

From: Robert Pearson (robert.pearsonATcrewe-nantwich.gov.uk)
Subject: Re: 10 Years of Wordsmith.org

Happy Anu-versary! Your quirky mail is probably the only one I always read with interest and enjoyment. Please keep it up.

From: Peter Laudin (plaudinATcxtec.com)
Subject: RE: 10 Years of Wordsmith.org

Congratulations on your 10 years. Success at anything over a ten-year period is rare enough, 10 years' success on the web is rarer still.

One of my favorite lines, that can be read in so many ways is: "Your words can make you rich."

Your words have made me rich. Thank you.

From: Ken Hutton (k10ATblueyonder.co.uk)
Subject: Congratulations on your 10th Anniversary!

I realised recently that I was subscribed to too many newsletters so I went through them mercilessly, unsubscribing like crazy. Needless to say, Wordsmith was one of the few that escaped the chop, and I didn't even have to think about it (it was what they call a 'no-brainer', though ironically it was one of the few that encouraged me to use my brain a bit more effectively).

I keep thinking that you'll run out of interesting words, but you somehow find more and more - keep it up! Considering the breadth of the English language, I guess you will run out pretty soon (in about 200 years or so!) so you'd better prepare for that eventuality and find something else to do to keep you occupied :o)

From: Michael Neugarten (mneugartenATiai.co.il)
Subject: Re: 10 Years of Wordsmith.org

Mazal Tov.

The first ten years are the hardest ...

From: Chris Raisin (craisinATjeack.com.au)
Subject: Congratulations!

Congratulations on reaching 10 years! You will soon be a teenager! (yuk!)

All the best from a devoted Australian fan.

From: Sara Blake (sblakeATnycap.rr.com)
Subject: A Happy Tenth Anniversary Story

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of AWAD, I need to thank you for this wonderful service. It was AWAD that salvaged my daughter's sense of humor during a very trying time. I thought you'd like to know the effect that your words have on people.

At the end of the first week in August, 2003, my 17-year-old daughter was a freshman in college and experiencing her first-ever college soccer preseason camp, in which the soccer team arrives at school 3 weeks before the rest of the students arrive so they can endure 21 days of conditioning and practice three times a day. Allison was away from home for the first time, still experiencing pain from a severe ankle sprain sustained 4 weeks earlier, completely alone in her dorm with no friends. She was lonely, unhappy and sore. She had no television, no car, and was on a not-yet-open college campus in a very small town. Her computer was her only link with the real world. My daughter and I have always shared a love of words, so as a going-to-college gift, I had signed her up for AWAD to give her something to look forward to every day - and a reason to think of me! During one of the practices, the team was told to alternate sprinting - jogging - walking across the field. On their third time across, the coach said, "If anyone can tell me what this exercise is called, I'll end this practice. Otherwise, you can do two more times across." At that Allison said, "It's a fartlek." He stared at her in disbelief and said he couldn't believe she knew it. She called home the minute she got back from practice, and sounded happy for the first time.

Fartlek was the word of the day on 8/13/02. Thank you for making my daughter smile.

From: Michael Pelitz (mygreatescapeatATyahoo.com)
Subject: Re: 10 Years of Wordsmith.org

Well... what can i say.... happy birthday!

I'm writing lyrics to pop songs and sometimes find inspiration in your daily sendings ("sandblind" was by far my favourite word). I hope you keep continuing your great work influencing my language abilities...

Special greetings from Austria.

From: Jan Edward Gaydos (gator181ATaol.com)
Subject: Re: 10 Years of Wordsmith.org

I was enrolled many years ago by a very dear friend, who passed away two years ago. While his college degree was in English, his career led him into the field of sales and marketing. He was a people person. While he loved being around people, he had no patience for those who failed to realize their own potential due to lack of effort. To me, he was a boss, a colleague, a friend, and always a mentor. He truly enjoyed seeing others succeed.

Now, every day when I open my E-mail and see A Word A Day, I think of him. It's like he is still coaching me and providing some valuable insight just as he did during our many years of friendship and working together as colleagues.

I really don't know why I am sending this. It is likely it won't get read, and if it does it will probably not be understood. I guess, it appeared to be a way to again acknowledge the valuable contributions this man made to my life in so many ways. While this was a seemingly small action on his part, it had a lasting impact and continues so long after his death. That so much epitomizes who he was.

To James W. Hutchison, thanks for being there for me and for all the things you did to help me improve in so many ways. Thanks AWAD, for listening.

From: Brigid K. McCauley (bkr64ATearthlink.net)
Subject: 10 years

Congratulations, and thanks! May your path forward be more like pahoehoe than aa. Actually, I hope it's smoother than either, and that Wordsmith goes on and on.

From: John Robinson (johnrobinsonATmyexcel.com)
Subject: Re: 10 Years of Wordsmith.org

Thank you for chumming our feeding frenzy over words!

The other day my dog got hold of your book and dashed around the house with it clenched firmly in his teeth. I finally coralled him in the kitchen - and took the words right out of his mouth.

From: Ernest Wright (topspinATicon.co.za)
Subject: Happy Birthday

I share your sentiments and thank you for allowing me partake in that part of your world which comprises the magic of words. I am very privileged to receive a special gift, five days a week, per kind favour of A Word A Day!

Two months after the birth of Wordsmith.org, South Africa became a democracy. Ten years on we are still experiencing the teething troubles that follow on Nelson Mandela's words, expressed on May 10 1994: 'We enter into a new covenant that we shall build a society in which all South Africans will be able to walk tall, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity - a rainbow nation at peace with the world'.

As I am part of both these 'worlds', I hope and pray that the latter will match the achievements of A Word A Day!

From: Richard H Cotterell (seecATmail.retina.ar)
Subject: Happy Birthday!

The ten-year venture has been worthwhile. It has consolidated a original desire into a fact, namely, a gathering place to learn and refresh elements of the English language and its uses.

Not everybody can say they have made 570,000 friends whilst walking the road of time. Congratulations. May there be many more anniversaries like this, even after we are long gone, for it will mean that our replacements - both the readers and the writers - have continued in sustaining the standards of excellence that have made AWAD what it is.

Thanks, Anu, for the pleasure of reading an enlightening newsletter.

From: Kaylyn Munro (klmunroATswbell.net)
Subject: That's a lot of words!

Love wordsmith but for the wrong reasons. I race to the bottom every day to find the quote of the day. And my daily word is also a great test to see if the e-mail is working!

From: Prabha Trimurty (trim9ATmsn.com)
Subject: Re: 10 Years of Wordsmith.org

Congratulations. Your word a day brought out the poet in me. Thank you.

From: Sue L (wind_lassAThotmail.com)
Subject: RE: 10 Years of Wordsmith.org

"March 14 is Einstein's birthday, it's Pi Day (3.14) in the US..."

I eagerly await the morning of Pi day in 11 years. That would be 3.14 15, 9:26:54 am. What festivities shall we plan?

From: Christine Rodriguez (la_chabochiATyahoo.com)
Subject: In Solidarity with Spaniards

One of the most soothing events for me after 9/11 was reading the sympathetic comments from Wordsmith's global community posted in your newsletter. I hope the Spaniards who read this will feel equally the solidarity we share with you. One word, one wish: Peace.

From: Barbara Beeton (bnbATams.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hustings

I was delighted to observe the relation between "hustings" and the name of the Icelandic parliament, "Althing", and its traditional location, "Thingvellir". A visit to Thingvellir holds strong and pleasant memories for me, and I look forward to visiting there again some day.

From: Charles Murphy (cmurphyATaims.unc.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--brass-collar

I had never heard the term "brass-collar" before, but, at least in the South, there is another term which means the same thing. It is "yellow-dog"; as in, so-and-so would vote for a yaller (yellow) dog so long as he was a Democrat. My wife is a yellow-dog Democrat.

From: Tudi Baskay (tudibaskayATcox.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--brass-collar

I would have thought that "brass collar" would refer to a collar (such as the one Wamba wore in "Ivanhoe") put around the neck of human chattel.

From: William Neville (wnwpgATmts.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--acclamation

In Canadian politics the word 'acclamation' is used in situations in which only one candidate has been nominated to stand for election by the date on which nominations close. There is no 'oral vote' or 'a loud and enthusiastic expression of approval...' (though the latter may be implied - an implication I find congenial having myself been twice elected by acclamation to public office). This phenomenon tends to occur chiefly in municipal elections.

From: Linda Owens (lindafowensATnetzero.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--blackball

Years ago I was in Rainbow Girls for a short time, and when we had to vote on a new member, a box of small marble-sized balls, mostly white, was passed around and each of us chose either a white or black ball to show support or rejection of the candidate. Three black balls would disqualify. Whenever I looked into the box, there were aways three black balls, so whoever voted No voted after me, usually the inner circle. I always suspected that the rejected candidates were rejected in advance, that the black ball voters were assigned in advance, and that the disqualifying attributes were nothing more than some sort of prejudice. That is why I stopped attending.

From: Michelle Arnone (michelle.arnoneATmccombs.utexas.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--blackball

I was struck by the use of the word "ostracize" in defining "blackball". "Ostrakon" is the word for a piece of pottery onto which the ancient Greeks would scratch the name of a politician to cast a ballot for his banishment. Hence the term "ostracize"; then, as now, we "cast" a ballot/ball/stone/ostrakon in order to ostracize/blackball someone.

From: Katherine Putziger (hudson.industriesATatt.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--urtext

When my sister had her first baby, my German grandmother, my Oma, told me that her new title was "Uroma", great grandmother. I assumed the "ur" beginning was related to the German word for time, "Uhr", but this definition has clarified for me what it meant.

Like anyone, my Oma did not appreciate her new title, because an Uroma, in her mind, was inconceivably old. My mother had a similar reaction to becoming an Oma.

From: Michael L. Hall (mike.hallATpobox.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--urtext

Beer aficionados will recognize the root "ur" from the name of the first Pilsner that was brewed in 1842. Pilsner Urquell ("urquell" is German for "original source") is still being brewed in Plzen (Pilsen), Czechoslovakia.

From: Harry Grainger (hgraingATaol.com)
Subject: Re: urtext

The ur- prefix is also used by the (some would say quite derivative) author Stephen Donaldson in his First and Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.

He had already described the servants of Lord Foul, the viles, but then went on to describe the UR-viles, their supervisors or handlers.

From: David Goldblatt, M.D. (dgoldblattmdATflare.net)
Subject: Urtext

Your quotation that begins, "Shadows, The 959 John Cassavetes urtext screened ..." implies an earlier date for the invention of film than most encyclopedias recognize. That's OK, though: "To Ur is human."

    Ur sharp-eyed! Thanks for catching the typo. It should have been 1959. -Anu

From: Andrew Pressburger (andrew.pressburgerATprimus.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--eclogue

For the adaptation of this genre of poetry to modern non-rustic themes, see Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney. A particularly poignant example would be the eclogues of the Hungarian poet Miklos Radnoti, found in his pocket when his body was exhumed, in 1946, from a mass grave of victims in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia. Here is a translation of his seventh eclogue by Frederick Turner and Zsuzsanna Ozsvath.

From: Tom Trottier (tomATabacurial.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--epigram

Often epitaphs are epigrams too:

When I am dead
I hope it may be said:
"His sins were scarlet,
but his books were read."
-Hilaire Belloc, writer (1870-1953)

From: David A. Tozier (wryrytrATjuno.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--epigram

To each his own: You split words your way -- I'll be more original!

e = "natural" logarithm base = 2.7183
pi = 3.14159265
gram = 0.035 ounces

Which proves that "epigram" is more scientific than artistic!

From: Robert Lapointe (arlene.bobATsympatico.ca)
Subject: AWAD: epigram

Recently I participated in a Negotiations Skills course. One of our illustrative exercises consisted in one person trying to persuade another to unclench a fist within 2 minutes. With 10 seconds to go and no sign of success I finally, out of desperation rather than guile, stuck out my hand as a gesture of conciliation. The fist unclenched...we shook hands. Now I can understand Indira Gandhi's epigram at a deeper level.

From: Jo McKnight (letoileATarvig.net)
Subject: Sylvia

I wonder how many of your subscribers know about Dick Ellis's ongoing serial based on AWAD words: doug and Sylvia. He is now beginning a new adventures with Sylvia driving the ship (and Freddy too). Not to be missed!

When I feel inclined to read poetry, I take down my dictionary. The poetry of words is quite as beautiful as the poetry of sentences. The author may arrange the gems effectively, but their shape and lustre have been given by the attrition of ages. -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., writer and physician (1809-1894)

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