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AWADmail Issue 141

October 31, 2004

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

From: Paul Tilley (p.a.tilleyATsalford.ac.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Cook's tour

In Australia, the term "Cook's Tour" can have a slightly different connotation than the one you indicated, most probably due to the fact that Australians would be referring to a different "Cook"... Captain James Cook (1728-1779), who is credited with discovering Australia's east coast.

This alternate version of the term describes a journey whereby the destination is arrived at by a very non-direct, round-about and touristy route, reflecting the round-about routes taken by Captain Cook in the "Endeavour" and the "Resolution", on his voyages of discovery.

From: Hugh Durden (hugh.durdenATnavy.mil)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Horatio Alger

Although today's usage of the term is exactly as you define it, it's interesting to note that there is another requirement for success in every Horatio Alger tale: luck. The hero is always hard-working, honest, virtuous, and going nowhere until chance puts him in a position to demonstrate a virtue to someone already wealthy who then gives the hero an opportunity to succeed.

Judging from Alger's novels, it must have been too unbelievable to audiences of the time to have the hero rise from poverty merely by being virtuous and working harder than everyone else. Perhaps there were no real-life examples of wealthy men of low origin, other than those who had clawed their way to the top.

Further, the virtue the hero typically demonstrates in drawing the attention of the powerful patron is courage, e.g., by saving the mill-owner's daughter from a runaway carriage, which otherwise has little to do with his subsequent performance in the job he is then given. However, it is arguable that it does play a role in his eventual marriage to the mill-owner's daughter, which is why he is put in charge -- again, not because of his job performance.

I suppose that an updated version of an Alger story would have a virtuous but penniless youth rise to success and fame by dint of intelligence, hard work, and winning the Powerball. Perhaps it's just as well that no-one reads Alger today.

From: George Tsirimokos (gxtATcox.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cyprian

As one descended from mainland Greek parents, I associate on a daily basis with others of my generation whose ancestors were either Cretans or Cypriots. The Cypriots delighted in misspelling and mispronouncing Cretans as "cretins". I have now informed my Cretan friends they are free to refer to the Cypriots as "cyprians".

From: Ruth Ann Harnisch (jennyATthehf.com)
Subject: "Somebodies and Nobodies" book giveaway

Were you surprised to receive a book in the mail recently?

Perhaps you are one of the thousands of AWAD readers who requested a free copy of author Robert Fuller's Somebodies and Nobodies earlier this year. Mr. Fuller was AWAD's Guest Wordsmith from June 21-25, 2004, and to help spread the word about rankism and the dignitarian society (Fuller's words that aren't yet in dictionaries), The Harnisch Family Foundation offered a free copy of Dr. Fuller's book to the first 500 AWAD readers who requested one. We received thousands of requests - so many, in fact, that we expanded the giveaway to 5000 AWAD readers. It took a while to figure out how to ship all those books. Eventually, we partnered with BookCrossing.com -- who we met through AWAD -- and The BookCrossing.com team has now completed the mailing of AWAD requests. However, we have received feedback from many people who are confused about why they received the book. May we kindly request that if you ordered a copy for a friend, that you remind your friend how this book happened to arrive in the mail? And please, don't forget to use the new words whenever you can! Our goal is to make them an official part of the language.

Ruth Ann Harnisch
President, Harnisch Family Foundation

From: Eric Shackle (eshackleATozemail.com.au)
Subject: eponyms

Mary Poppins is an eponym for a nanny. The much-loved children's book "Mary Poppins" tells the story of a London nanny, so most people probably think its author, P L Travers, was English. I've discovered to my surprise that she was born in Australia, as Helen Lyndon Goff. A Mary Poppins statue has been erected to honor the author, and two more are planned. Full details are in the November edition of my free e-book.

This aphorism would be seven words long if it were six words shorter.

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