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AWADmail Issue 122

May 23, 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: Interesting stories from the net

The Library That Puts on Fishnets and Hits the Disco: nytimes.com

Shakespeare's Coined Words Now Common Currency:

From: Marcy Robinowitz (marcyrATcox.net)
Subject: words about family

I have thought off and on about China, the importance of family there, and the effects of China's limit on family size. With only one child per family, the words brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc. will no longer be in common usage. Along with the loss of the words will come a dramatic change in society. Blood may remain thicker than water, but there will be oh so little shared blood.

From: Israel Pickholtz (isai8v10ATactcom.co.il)
Subject: Relations

My favorite word for relations is the Hebrew for what the two concurrent wives of the same man (back when bigamy was legal) are to one another. The word is "tzara" which also means "trouble" or "torment."

From: Dalene Rowley (therowleysATiprovo.net)
Subject: paterfamilias

As I opened my new word this morning I almost laughed out loud at your great timing. Last night I watched the movie "O Brother, Where art Thou?" with my family. At one point in the movie, the main character, Everett, becomes quite proud of his role as paterfamilias and utters the word frequently.

In any case, I couldn't help noticing how this particular film has a much more interesting vocabulary than the usual Hollywood fare. I found it quite entertaining to watch a movie with a smart and funny script and occasional wonderfully witty banter. "O Brother, Where art Thou?" just surpassed "Pirates of the Caribbean" for great lines that help expand the vocabularies of my kids. Since watching "Pirates," my kids love to reply, "I'm disinclined to acquiesce to your request," whenever I ask them to do something. I'm anxious to hear whatever great lines they'll pick up from this film.

From: Gokul Madhavan (gokul_madhavanAThotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--polyhistor

I was particularly struck by the Indo-European root 'weid' of today's word 'polyhistor'. There's another non-English example which derives from a very similar root. The Sanskrit word 'Veda' is derived from the root 'vid', which means 'to know' or 'to see'. (Speakers of Indian languages will immediately note the link between this and the commonly-used word 'vidya', which means 'knowledge').

From: John Graham (johnATjgrescon.fsbusiness.co.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--clodhopper

Clodhopper is also a peasant or countryman.

People working on the land certainly have a tough time etymologically - not only are they clodhoppers, but also woollybacks, chawbacons, bog-trotters, rednecks, hayseeds, backwoodsmen, and bumpkins.

While townies, who visit the country for leisure purposes and to gawk at the clodhoppers, get off relatively lightly; they are grockles.

From: Don Warkentin (donATcandisc.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--clodhopper

Having been raised in a rural community I understand the word Clodhopper is derived from the word clod (clump of dirt). Farmers wearing heavy work boots would often appear ungainly as they made their way through a clod-ridden field.

Words are a commodity in which there is never any slump. -Christopher Morley, writer (1890-1957)

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