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AWADmail Issue 187

November 19, 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: Interesting stories from the net

Talking the Tawk:

Noam Chomsky On The Spontaneous Invention Of Language:


From: Scout Hatfield-Gonzales (scoutsATgmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tropism

An interesting example of tropism, of which most people are unaware, can be seen in the new craze of "lucky bamboo". The plant (which is actually a Dracaena, and not a bamboo at all) would grow straight without an external stimulus. Nurseries restrict the light source for the stalks as they grow, forcing them to reach for an ever-adjusting light source, and causing the characteristic spiral patterns which are so attractive to buyers. In most cases, this takes years to accomplish, and I'm always amazed by how cheap the individual plants are. See Wikipedia.

From: Evelyn Widhalm (evelynwATblackfoot.net)
Subject: Tropism

I am a school counselor at Clinton, Montana and when I talk to the students about resiliency I am going to use the word tropism and bring in a plant to demonstrate. It will be a great object lesson I think.

From: Greg Chubak (greg.chubakATinternational.gc.ca)
Subject: tropism

Which would beget 'malatropism' - when one reacts improperly to an external stimulus.

From: Keith Goeringer (kegoeringerAThotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ecesis

The word oikos 'house' also comes from the same root, and gives part of the word 'economy' -- depending on how you look at the "nomos" part, it could be 'management of the house', 'rule of the house', or something similar. So 'home economics' is somewhat redundant, at least etymologically.

From: Sharon Smith (mainelyneuropsychATprexar.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dendrochronology

When one of my children was about three years old, she looked up at me so sweetly as I was tucking her into bed. Clearly searching her small lexicon to come up with just the right words to show how much she loved me, she said: "Mommy, your wrinkles are just like ocean waves!"

If I looked like that in 1982, you can only imagine what I must look like now!

From: Katy Keenan (katykeenanATyahoo.com)
Subject: Re: dendrochronology

Just the day after this word was on AWAD, I read in "Heritage Today", a magazine for members of English Heritage, that they have used dendrochronology to identify the oldest door in Britain. A detailed archaeological study of the "Pyx" door, which opens into the outer vestibule of Westnimster Abbey's octagonal Chapter House, reveals that the wood in the door was felled between 1032 and 1064AD, and that the door was made some time in the 1050s. The article also goes on to quote: "It is incredible to think that when the Pyx door was made, the Norman Conquest had not yet happened and William of Normandy was still a young man of about 20."

From: Robert Sanford (rsanfordATteleport.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dendrochronology

Here's a lovely poem that expresses what you said about people's faces reflecting their lives as tree rings reflect the age of trees.

On Seeing Weather-Beaten Trees

In our own lives, is it as plainly shown,
By every slant and twist, which way the wind has blown?

Adele Crapsey

From: Lee Triesler (lee.trieslerATdoverpost.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dendrochronology

Perhaps we will be the society known as much for the erasure of facial dendrochronology (plasticochronology? Botoxochronology?) as we're known for killing off so many of the trees (would that be called dendrochronology prevention?)

From: Yocheved Desnick (ydesnickATnds.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--palmy

Living here in the Middle East where palm trees are indigenous, I feel as if I have developed a stronger relationship with them emotionally than I ever had when I lived in the US.

I think that the association of palm trees with prosperity goes even further than what you have mentioned below. Palm trees are proof of the existence of water. That is, wandering through a desert and finding an abundance of palm trees would signify an oasis or some other natural water source. Water = life, especially here in the parched deserts. Oases and areas with a central water source were also frequently centers of commerce on anything from a small to more grand scale. Hence, in my opinion, the association of prosperity.

From: Chris Johansen (johansenATmain.nc.us)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--palmy

    palmy (PAH-mee) adjective

    Why the association of palm with prosperity? The branches of the palm tree were carried as symbols of victory in ancient times. There is a related term, palmary, meaning outstanding or praiseworthy.

As in Palme d'Or.

From: Art Haykin (theartATwebtv.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--palmy

    From the palm tree we get:

    palmy (PAH-mee) adjective
    1. Abounding in palm trees.
    2. Flourishing; prosperous.

And from the balm tree, (a small evergreen African and Asiatic tree of the terebinthine family, Balsamodendron Gileadense; its leaves yield, when bruised, a strong aromatic scent; and from this tree is obtained the balm of Gilead of the shops), we get:

balmy (BAH-mee) adjective
1. Off in the head a bit
2. Harmlessly crazy
3. A soothing ointment

The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order. -Jean Cocteau, writer, artist, and filmmaker (1889-1963)

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