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AWADmail Issue 185

November 6, 2005

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: Virtual booksigning

Thanks to all who participated in the virtual booksigning of the new book Another Word A Day. Here are some highlights from the day:

An excerpt from the chat transcript.

A montage of virtual bookplates.

The book is now available in 18 countries. If you run a bookstore and carry "Another Word A Day", you're welcome to send the direct link to the book in your store, and we'll add it here. Review copies:
A limited number of review copies of the book are available. If you'd like to review it, you can request a copy.

From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--parisology

A clarification about parisology citation contest: citations must be from print sources, not online.

From: Steven Williamson (sfwmsonATcharter.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--parisology

While I am not submitting my own use of this word, I can think of no one who is better at it than our Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Here is one example of dozens:

"The message is that there are known knowns - there are things that we know that we know. There are known unknowns - that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns - there are things we do not know we don't know. And each year we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns."

Many more can be seen here.

From: George Bangs (ghbseaATaol.com)
Subject: feedback: parisology

The phrase I use when being requested to purchase a ticket, usually for a charity event or raffle, that I do not plan to attend or support is; "Thank you, I have all the tickets I need." The person does not need to know that no tickets is all I need.

From: (amcmurtryATcox.net)
Subject: parisology

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison being interviewed about her friend Harriet Meirs' nomination to the Supreme Court supported the nomination saying, "She will be an unqualified asset to the court."

From: Christine Olinger (olinger.christineATepamail.epa.gov)
Subject: parisology

As a scientist in the Federal Government, I find that the higher up you go, the more practiced the administrators in parisology.

From: Steve Lang (steve-langATcomcast.net)
Subject: parisology

My entry in the parisology sweepstakes:
" ... weapons of mass destruction-related program activities."
-George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, Jan. 20, 2004.

From: Ben Burton (daddyben2ATcablelynx.com)
Subject: parisology

Dear Senator, accept my apology
For accusing you of being uncouth;
When you were practicing parisology,
Not speaking from both sides of your mouth.

From: Daniel Wilkins (danwATems.anu.edu.au)
Subject: Wobbegong does not beget Wobegone

In response to today's word:

If one ever comes in touch with this fish, a woebegone status is certain.

As an Australian, I beg to differ. This statement perpetuates the myth that sharks are dangerous 'man-hunters', an opinion which has contributed to their capture and persecution, and which has resulted in many species becoming threatened with extinction.

Rather than eliciting woe, the more likely result of a sub-marine encounter with a Wobbegong would be joy and wonder at seeing one of these amazing creatures before it scuttled off out of harm's way!

From: Mariann Evans (msemseATmc.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--woebegone

An American radio entertainer named Garrison Keillor has a program called "A Prairie Home Companion" in which he mentions "Lake Wobegon" where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.

From: Richard Mintz (mintz42ATaol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--undecimal

Would you believe a fictional character whose name is based on this word? From Chap. 8 of Anthony Trollope's _The Three Clerks_: "The Hon. Undecimus Scott was the eleventh son of the Lord Gaberlunzie. Lord Gaberlunzie was the representative of a very old and very noble race, more conspicuous, however, at the present time for its age and nobility than for its wealth.

From: Carolanne Reynolds (ggATwordsmith.org)
Subject: numeric naming

In the first half of the 20th century, the two places where Roman Catholicism was strongest were Ireland where the Irish Dail (govt) had its legislation vetted by the Roman Catholic church, and Quebec where (because birth control was prohibited by the Pope) families of 15 and 20 were not uncommon. Our (Canadian) former Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, was the nineteenth child in his family. As you can imagine, they had to have a lot of names. A common one was 'onzieme', French for eleventh (a boy's name).

From: Joe Fishbein (joe.fishbeinATdot.state.mn.us)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--undecimal

Your comment about people with supernumerary digits reminded me of an old joke, about a tribe of aborigines that was discovered deep in the Amazon rain forest. The tribe had practiced total nudity for centuries, and over the years had developed a base-21 number system.

From: John Echevarria (john.echevarriaATumusic.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--undecimal

I'm one of those mentioned by you; I don't know what we are called but I do know that the fact itself is called polymastia, and as you would say, other words from the same origin, mastitis, mastectomy.

From: Bert Forage (afo43573ATbigpond.net.au)
Subject: Undecimal

I liked your clever neologistical 'supernumammary': nevertheless, I am sure that many of your fans might not be aware that the correct words are polythelia (relating to nipples) and polymastia (relating to breasts). These extra breasts or nipples occur in humans along a line that extends from the armpit to the groin. On one occasion an ectopic nipple was noted on the left buttock of a young man!

From: Evan Hazard (eehazardATpaulbunyan.net)
Subject: mammalogy

You wrote: "For example, instead of a binary arrangement, some people are gifted with an extra nipple. You could call them 'supernumammary'."

You could also call them witches. Extra nipples were once regarded as evidence of witchcraft, and may still be, by some folks.

From: James Capobianco (james_capobiancoATemerson.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--undecimal

I wanted to comment on the quotation for this word which mentioned that ISBN comprises ten digits.

Starting January 1, 2007, all books will have a 13 digit ISBN instead of the 10 digits we have been used to. See this page. The process has already started, actually. January 1st of this year marked the beginning of the "transition period".

I wonder what the triskaidekaphobics will think?

From: Harry F Doherty (harryfdohertyATyahoo.co.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--apian

I thought your readers might like to know that many older urinals in Britain feature a small bee to indicate the ideal target. Apparently Victorians were more familiar with the Latin for animal names than we are now.

From: Gerry Visel (gcviselATgmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--apian

I love the quotation, but you don't neet to go to Nepal to experience that one. It's a joy to watch the wonder in someone's eyes when I pull a frame of bees out of a hive. There's a lot to be learned from the bees. They are a very democratic organization, with the workers deciding when they need a new queen, and everyone does their own job, for the good of the community. Oh, and I have not counted them myself, but 60,000 is a rather small hive.

From: Conor Donnelly (conorATbitstream.net)
Subject: My grandma, fletcherizing


Thanks so much for filling my head with fascinating words. I have a little story to tell you about how I found out about AWAD.

My grandmother was dying of stomach cancer in October of 2001. She was 84 years old, and curious about using email to get in touch with some old friends. I helped her set up a PC and taught her how to use AOL. She was nervous but learned quickly. As she lay dying, the crows gathered outside her window on the trees all over her block, there must have been thousands of them there to pay their respects. She was a birdlover.

I was cleaning off her desk and I discovered a tiny spiral bound notebook, with some journal entries about her computer. She noted things that she was learning about email, and questions she had. There were also hand written definitions for many interesting words, apparently one for each day. Then I noticed the web address for AWAD. As I flipped through the pages of her notebook, studying each word carefully I came to the last page.

The last word she had entered was "fletcherize" - To chew food thoroughly.

How appropriate. Her cancer was making it difficult for her to swallow food which forced her to fletcherize everything she ate. Thank you for bringing these interesting words to my grandma at the end of her life, and in turn sparking my interest in the wonders of language.

Words are like money; there is nothing so useless, unless when in actual use. -Samuel Butler, writer (1835-1902)

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