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AWADmail Issue 117

March 27, 2004

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

From: Martin Tobkes (tobkes.martinATatt.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--walleyed

Interestingly, the Japanese term for this condition is ron-pari, as one eye is looking at Rondon (London) and the other is looking at Pari (Paris).

From: Celeste Mulholland (dunleathATnetlab.co.za)
Subject: Walleyed...

In my world and for 'always' we have called this condition 'lazy-eyed'. Possibly it has to do with lax eye muscles or something? I am a recruitment consultant and the only formal reference I have to this (and it was because I started the correspondence) was in an unfair labour practice case where a company would not employ a very experienced and accomplished Credit Controller because she had a lazy-eye. The Manager of the department said he "couldn't look at her without thinking that she was not focused on her job." He paid for that comment!

From: Diana Lieberman (dzlz105ATaol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tub-thumper

Compare this word to the Yiddish phrase -- "hakking in chinek" which means, literally "banging on pots" and, metaphorically, vigorously promoting, or nagging.

From: Mary Mulhern (brookfieldinstituteATverizon.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--snowbird

Here in Philadelphia, a snowbird is an individual who ordinarily drives to work but who takes the commuter train in bad weather. The regular riders naturally enough resent them, because they crowd and slow down the trains and then complain about it.

Of course, one cannot think about snowbirds without thinking of Canada's Snowbird extraordinaire, Anne Murray.

From: Jim Butler (jbutler2ATlevi.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--snowbird

Is there a word to describe those persons who travel from hot climes to cooler ones in the summer? I grew up in Northern Utah and our spring was regularly heralded by the arrival of hundreds of Phoenicians as they escaped the scorching rays of central Arizona. Perhaps we could call them "sunbirds"?

From: Reid Sinclair (rbaytopATfrognet.net)
Subject: snowbird

Snowbird also have a slang meaning in sports, to stay back in basketball when everybody goes to other end--saves energy and may lead to easy shot?

From: Ellison Goodall (brideyrevisitedATaol.com)
Subject: One if by land, too if by sea (Re: landloper)

A landloper must be a landsman, but not necessarily a landlubber but a landlubber is a landsman and clumsy seaman;

A seaman is a mariner yet a landsman is not a terrier a seaman is also a sailor but is a landsman a walker?

From: Vernon L. Singleton (vlsingletonATucdavis.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--jackboot

I believe jackboot come from being a boot that requires a bootjack (tall and impossible to remove without help from a "boy" or a jack). "Jack" evolved as a term for gadgets or appliances that replaced help from an assisting "boy", jacks for wagons or autos, for examples. Certainly a close fitting boot rising above the knee is almost impossible to remove without help!

From: Anthony Targan (targanaATdteenergy.com)
Subject: words that describe our fellow humans

Your description of a boy nicknamed Horse brought back childhood memories of my own animalistic moniker. I was a rather diminutive lad, but despite my small stature -- or maybe because of it -- I was always a tenacious competitor on the playing field, trying twice as hard to make up for my lack of size. When my friends shortened my given name (Anthony) to "Ant", at first I took offense; but now I consider it a compliment given that an ant can lift 20 times its own body weight!

From: Owen Roberts (owen.robertsATlmco.com)
Subject: Nicknames

After reading the entry for walleye, and your comments about (sometimes painful) nicknames, I was reminded of a poem by Hilaire Belloc entitled The Frog:

Be kind and tender to the Frog,
And do not call him names,
As "Slimy skin," or "Polly-wog,"
Or likewise "Ugly James,"
Or "Gap-a-grin," or "Toad-gone-wrong,"
Or "Bill Bandy-knees":
The Frog is justly sensitive
To epithets like these.
No animal will more repay
A treatment kind and fair;
At least so lonely people say
Who keep a frog (and, by the way,
They are extremely rare).

From: Chris Strolin (haveaknifedayATyahoo.com)
Subject: Nicknames

Regarding your comments on your fellow student who frequently assigned insulting nicknames to classmates, he or she may have unintentionally been doing those young people a favor. Psychological studies involving elementary school children have shown that denigrating labels of this sort may not have the negative impact one might suppose since, especially at that age, any attention can be better than none at all. In this sense, it can be more psychologically healthy for a child to be nicknamed "Fats" by his or her peers than not to be addressed at all. Experts disagree over whether this applies during teenagerhood or later.

Chris J. "Blue-Eyed Devil" Strolin, aged 52

From: Colleen Urbanek (colleentexATwebtv.net)
Subject: nicknames being cruel for those so-called

I dated a Kappa Sig on campus, back in the 30's. Everybody called him Lobo. I thought that was a name for a wolf (it certainly fitted him, if it was so). I learned, later on, it was a nickname for lobotomy.

From: W.J. Heeringa (w.j.heeringaATlet.rug.nl)
Subject: perception of Germanic languages

As part of a course at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands) we developed a website intended for investigation of language perception. On the website 11 recordings of different languages and dialects can be heard, and the visitor is asked to rate the distance of the varieties with respect to his of her mother tongue.

To complete our project we need many different people with different native languages to visit our website and do the experiment. We would like to ask you to participate in this experiment or to send this mail to students at your university so that these students can participate. The experiment is for scientific use only and will not be used for other purposes.

The experiment and more information about the experiment, can be found on our website.

We thank you for your participation.

From: Master Elisabeth Maersk (792elisabeATmaersk.com)
Subject: Congratulations

This is the most interesting mail that we receive on board, a saviour during long voyages. Its read with interest by full crew on the ship and they look forward to it. I subscribed for the ship after reading about it in Readers Digest and have found it very stimulating.

From the middle of South Atlantic Ocean,

Capt Mrityunjay Dhawal
Elisabeth Maersk

The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest men of past centuries. -Rene Descartes, philosopher and mathematician (1596-1650)

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