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AWADmail Issue 136

September 18, 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: 600,000 AWAD Subscribers

The subscribership of AWAD has just crossed the 600,000 mark.

Here are the latest stats with details of countries, their flags, and more. This number includes only those who subscribe to the newsletter. This does not include those who read AWAD on the Web or via RSS feeds. Also check out our top ten corporations and universities.

From: Pam Cerff (pam.cerffATmrc.ac.za)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--trow

Reminds me of the first marriage of Princess Anne (The Princess Royal). I seem to remember words to the effect of "To thee I plight my trow," which seemed terribly romantic at the time. Perhaps trow is still commonly used in the Church of England marriage vows? Given the high rates of divorce one wonders if the meaning is understood by prospective marriage partners.

From: Charles Lyne (charles.lyneATzarlink.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--trow

For the record, a trow is also a sailing boat with a flat bottom used on the River Severn in England until the mid-1900s.

From: Michael Hood (michaelhood3ATcomcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--trow

Trow brings to mind my grandmother's slang for trousers -- presumably spelled trou, but pronounced rhyming with `cow.' It's old fashioned, though I wouldn't guess it's archaic. There's a band called Drop Trou, sex advice columnist Dan Savage uses the term `dropping trou' to euphemize, 'getting naked' and waggish critics of the 42nd US president called him 'Drop Trou Willie.'

From: A. Dobrowolski (dobrowolski.aATzdf.de)
Subject: trow

In various Germanic languages you can still find relatives of the English word "trow" fully alive in everyday speech. In Norwegian, for example, the possible meanings of the word "tro" are: "belief", "to believe" and "faithful". Another possible word for "faithful" is "trofast". In German, "faithful" could be translated as "treu", and the wedding ceremony is called "Trauung". Also, we have "Vertrauen" for "trust"

From: Marvin Hodges (mahATbeethoven.com)
Subject: AWAD subscribers may want to help provide free books to the world

Word-A-Day subscribers also may enjoy helping increase the knowledge of the world by volunteering to assist Project Gutenberg by PROOFING BOOKS.

Project Gutenberg is a free source of over 13,800 books, and adding more daily. These are books out of copyright (published prior to 1924) and in different languages. Volunteers have accomplished this since 1971. Over 13,000 volunteers receive great satisfaction from providing a source of free books to the world.

My personal highlight was helping proof a book about the only true communism in the history of the world. There were over 70 communist communes in one country during the 19th Century, and every one failed.

In Germany? No. In Russia? No. In China? No. All were in the U.S.A. And if you own an Amana refrigerator or washing machine, that non-communist company started in a communist commune!

From: Sharon Dominguez (sdomingATd20.co.edu)
Subject: Use in the classroom

I realize with an e-mail list of 600 thousand people, this mail is just a drop in the bucket, but I wanted to tell you how much my classes (high school) seem to enjoy your service. Each day, we learn a new "weird word of the day". We talk about the etymology of the word and other words it is related to through its root. The students know they get an extra credit point if they can come up with a way to work the word into the classroom discussion that day without being too affected. You should have heard the fun they had with "trow" this week. Often, the new word for the day provides a staging point for some part of the lesson for the day. (Obviously, I am an English teacher.)

One of the things I always try to do is to link the word to popular youth culture to keep the students interested. (This is easier to do than you might imagine. For example, "anagnorisis" was a snap when I explained it in terms of Lindsey Lohan's first big film "The Parent Trap" and the moment the "twins" realize they are sisters.) The kids are good sports about the words, but I wanted them to know that it wasn't just their strange English teacher who was on to this whole word-a-day thing.

Imagine my pleasure to find the website and service listed, of all places, in "Entertainment Weekly" as one of the top ten "cool" things to do or know for the week! When I shared that information, the classes were suitably impressed. :)

The raw material of possible poems and histories. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, essayist and poet, on dictionary (1803-1882)

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