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AWADmail Issue 157

March 20, 2005

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

From: Hugh C. Paulk (hughcpaulkATaol.com)

Subject: Congratulations! (Re: 11 Years of Wordsmith.org)

I'm 88 and I am looking forward to your next eleven years.

From: Cornelia Braunsburger-Haertel (corneliaAThaertelcom.de)
Subject: eleven years "a word a day"

you for
a word a
day. Congratulations to you,

This kind of a poem contains eleven words and is called "Elfchen" in Germany, which means "little eleven" or "little elve". It has to be written in the form above: First line: one word, second line: two words, third line: three words, fourth line: four words, fifth line: one word.

From: Vivek Sinha (vivek.sinhaATst.com)
Subject: About undecennary

By another happy coincidence, this week (as per corporate workweek descriptions) also happens to be "Work-Week 11" i.e. the eleventh week of the year.

From: Robert Richter (drbobricATaol.com)
Subject: eleven

Your play on eleven brings to mind the late, great comedian Victor Borge, among whose clever routines was the addition of one to every number or (more important) to every homonym of a number. It went something like, "I wanted three go three a twoderful perfivemance of 'Thirteenth Night' but couldn't affived the tickets.

From: Steven Rose (sroseATvailresorts.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--undecennary

Here's an obscure topic. Did you know that the cycle of sunspots is an undecennary one?

From: Michael Sivertz (sivertzATbnl.gov)
Subject: Re: undecennary

The prefix "un" in front of "decennary" put me in mind of the unimaginative naming conventions used for the latest man-made elements. Element 111 is named Unununium, while 112 is called Ununbium. No prizes for guessing the name of element 113.

From: Michael Nolan (mikeynoATearthlink.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--elevenses

When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Chile, I partook of the daily afternoon ritual of tea at 4pm. But the ritual was called "once" -- meaning eleven in Spanish as you know.

From: Roger Williams (rogwilliATcisco.com)
Subject: Gone missing - "elevenses"

Many of us associate the word "elevenses" with the master of living in the moment, Winnie the Pooh. For him, any time was about the right time for elevenses. The word, and the concept, is his alone.

From: Steve Benko (steve.benkoATgecapital.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--elevenses

And I thought this word, and its meaning, had been invented by and for hobbits! Merry and Pip were so shocked and appalled to find they might sometimes miss "elevenses" on their way to help Frodo cast the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom.

Another "11" word from "Lord of the Rings" is "'leventy-'leven", i.e., one hundred and eleven, the birthday Bilbo is celebrating at the commencement of the epic.

From: Hope Bucher (hope-bucherATwebtv.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hendecagon

My husband is a Physicist and Mathematician. When I prepared dinner, he played with our three year old son who had a Fisher-Price toy with numerous shapes. Each piece corresponded to and fit into a hole. Once, when my parents were visiting, my father sat on the floor and said to his grandson "What shape is this? Our three year old said "A square, a triangle", etc., but when he came to the twelve-sided piece and our toddler said "dodecahedron", the expression of astonishment on my father's face was memorable. Our son is now a thirty year old Neuroscientist with interesting memories.

From: Babette Hiestand (booksATrjjulia.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hendecasyllabic

"A word or line of eleven syllables", eh? How hendecasyllabic of you.

    You're the only one who caught it! -Anu Garg

From: Daniel Roddick (cyberstorkATearthlink.net)
Subject: The Wordsmith Guessing Game

We are a small group of friends in Sierra Madre, California who walk together each morning and also subscribe to your delightful service. We have been having great fun as we attempt to guess the words that you will choose for each week. Monday, of course, sets the stage as we see the theme and an example. Then we all venture a few guesses on what your other four choices will be. We've had weeks when we were blanked, of course. To hit a couple in a row is a cause for great celebration. A successful guesser can expect great praise when he or she arrives for our morning walk.

Of course, the universe of possibilities varies greatly depending on the category. We knew that we were shooting fish in a barrel this week and in fact, we went a record three for four on the "eleven" theme. Imagine our collective disappointment this morning when we fell just one short of perfection. We were banking on the more whimsical "lebenty leben" from Uncle Remus, or an outside shot at "number eleven", the weakest batter on a cricket side. Needless to say, we were crushed to have come so close and then have missed the almost-obvious "hendecasyllabic." After all, we had bagged its cousin, the polygon, just a few days earlier. But, we're licking our wounds and will come out ready to guess again on Monday.

Dan Roddick and the Beantown Walkers

I have studied it often, but I never could discover the plot. -Mark Twain, author and humorist, on dictionary (1835-1910)

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