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AWADmail Issue 149

December 28, 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

Tom and Jerry at Heart of China's Linguistic Storm


A Hindi-English Jumble, Spoken By 350 Million

Evolution of Faith:

From: Stanford Acomb (sacombATziggurat-inc.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--crispin

Once while researching some 18th century British genealogical records, I encountered the personal name "Crispin Toes". The name struck me as unusual, and has stayed with me ever since. Now I can appreciate the sense of humor that mom & dad Toes must have had!

From: Ed Buhl (etbuhlATaol.com)
Subject: Crispin

There is a famous speech by Henry V, in Shakespeare's play of that name, about St. Crispin. Just before the battle of Agincourt, Henry's knight's and soldiers are filled with foreboding about the coming battle where they will be greatly outnumbered by the French. Henry learns that it is the feast of St. Crispin and gives his men a "pep talk" about how they will be remembered every St Crispin's day for the deeds they do in battle today. Fired up by Henry's words, they go forth and inflict an overwhelming defeat against the French.

The speech is inspiring enough when read, but it is worth hearing it delivered by a Shakespearean actor. There is Olivier's version, but I like Kenneth Branagh's version better -- it's more muscular. Both available on videos.

From: Cheryl Norey (noreycATmichauto.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Darwinian

Darwin used the word "fit" to mean those animals which fit most smoothly into the complex puzzle of the ecosystem like a good jigsaw puzzle piece, were most likely to survive. In other words, "fit", in terms of proper size and shape. It is has been sorely abused by popular culture and artificially mutated to imply survival of the strongest or most brutal, but that is not what the good Doctor had in mind.

From: David Rubenstein (drubensteinATthoughtful-action.com)
Subject: Darwin

Most folks thinks that Darwin came up with the idea of evolution, rather than a specific explanation of how evolution works. In fact, many observed earlier than Darwin that species change over time, or evolve.

Darwin's big (really huge) contribution was the recognition that change in a species occurs by natural selection of (randomly occurring genetic) characteristics that provide a competitive advantage in the existing environment.

Or, more succinctly, Darwin's theory was of "evolution by natural selection".

From: Ellen Spear (ellen.spearAThbsr.com)
Subject: Darwinian man

My favorite reference to Darwinian man is from the last verse of a comic song from Gilbert & Sullivan's Princess Ida, which concludes that:

For the Maiden fair, whom the monkey craved
Was a radiant Being
With a brain far-seeing -
While Darwinian man, though well behaved,
As yet is only a monkey shaved.

From: John M McMahon (mcmahonjmATnPt.nuwc.navy.mil)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--goldwynism

This word reminds me of another "ism" that we coined at our workplace. The word is "Cousinism" after my former boss (Cousineau), and is probably more in line with a malapropism. We kept a database of the gems that came out of his mouth (unfortunately the database was lost over time). We were repeatedly cautioned to be careful lest we "get caught between the eightballs", or else we might "open Pandora's Gate". Mr. Cousineau has been retired for several years now, so as he would say, this is all "water under the dam". I'd love to be a "flower on the wall" if he ever reads this!

From: Theodore R. Buddine (trbfromncATaol.com)
Subject: Goldwynisms

The classic purveyor of Goldwynisms, perhaps even more than Goldwyn himself, was of course Yogi Berra ("When you come to a fork in the road, take it!").

The Goldwynism you attribute to Gregory Peck ('If they won't go to the box-office, you can't stop 'em') is similar to a favorite of mine, usually attributed to Jimmy Durante, about a nightclub in the news: "Nobody goes there any more. It's too crowded."

From: Shrisha Rao (shraoATnyx.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--goldwynism

Some other well-known Goldwynisms are: "If you can't give me your word of honor, will you at least give me your promise?" "If you want to send a message, use Western Union," and "We have all passed a lot of water since then."

However, Garson Kanin, in his book "Hollywood" (Viking Press, 1967) claims that most of the thousands of alleged Goldwynisms were actually concocted by Pete Smith, Goldwyn's publicist.

From: Chris Stewart (chris_stewartATgallup.com)
Subject: Gallup Poll

Dear Editor,

I am writing with reference to your December 23, 2004 Word of the Day. You have listed Gallup Poll as the word.

We would respectfully request a correction of your Word of the Day that identifies the Gallup Poll as a registered trademark owned by Gallup Inc. It is important that Gallup Poll be referenced as a trademark.

Thanks in advance for the correction.

Chris Stewart, Global Brand Manager, The Gallup Organization

    Thanks for your note. Your concern regarding trademark dilution is understandable. Our featuring of a term in AWAD is not a comment on its trademark status but rather an indication of how the term is being used in the English language. -Anu Garg

From: A.G. Perry (agpATmika-sys.com)
Subject: Twain quote

I would have thought that the phrase "putting us on" was of more recent vintage than Mark Twain's time. Please enlighten me.

    Even though the expression "to put on" appears rather modern, the Oxford English Dictionary shows citations from as early as seventeenth century. Here is a 1682 quotation from Dryden: "'Twas all put on that I might hear and rave." -Anu Garg

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you CAN make words mean so many different things." "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master--that's all." -Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) [Through the Looking Glass]

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