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AWADmail Issue 188

November 26, 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: The gift of words

This holiday season, why not make a gift of words? Here are four suggestions:



From: Viktor Trukov (viktortrukovATgmail.com)
Subject: cold bight

About the foreword on cold weather (-5C / 23F), guess that brought association with frost "bight" ;-).

In Central Siberia (Divnogorsk city, 30 thousand people), Russia, where I grew up, we have a "slightly" different perception of cold. Also we never added wind chill factor, only saying "with wind, or "without wind". We loved winter as much as other seasons, waiting anxiously for the first snow to fall. In addition to regular winter activities, one of the fun things to do was to build snow houses, making tunnels in deep snow and jumping into the snow from roofs.

So, our Siberian cold scale would look like this:

-5C / 23F = considered very warm, comfortable winter temperature. Nobody would put on two pairs or sets of any clothing to play outside for hours.

-10C / 14F = warm, comfortable, still not warranting double layers of clothing. No restriction on time to play outside, except for completion of school homework.

-15C / 5F = cool, some scared souls might put double layers, most mothers would pressure kids to put on more clothes.

-20C / -4F = chilly, most kids go play outside double-layered.

-30C / -22F = cold ('moroz' in Russian), kids go outside double- and triple-layered, and play only for short time, go home to warm up only when absolutely necessary (it's dangerous - mothers might not allow you to go out and play again.

-40C / -40F = very cold (strong 'moroz'), very few kids allowed by mothers to go play outside, multi-layered, but you haven't many partners to play with... School gets cancelled, but half of the kids will show up anyway and will have fun on a school day.

-50C / -58F = ... Relax, I never had it :-) Never had it below -43C, on which day, being an adult already, I set my personal record by jumping and rolling over in the snow, bare naked, after a sauna.

No level of cold prevented us from regular activities - movies, sport, visits, etc. Ah, a beautiful time!

From: Larry Bulgier (lwsbulgierATcox.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bight Those lucky enough to be Patrick O'Brien addicts have encountered "Beware and take care of the Bight of Benin/ There's one comes out for forty go in." (The jingle was popular in sailing days because of contrary winds.)

From: John Burbidge (burbidgeATcenturytel.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bight

One of the more well-known bights is The Great Australian Bight, spanning the southern shores of the Australian continent. Known for its stormy seas, it has been the bane of many a passenger in the days of sea travel. In recent years, an Australian confectionery company has promoted a popular candy bar with the phrase "The Great Australian Bite", exploiting the homophone for all it's worth.

From: Earl Whitner (earlbwATbigvalley.net)
Subject: bight

On board a ship, when the anchor is let go, "Don't stand in the bight" are wisely heeded words of warning.

From: Linda Hamilton (njlindahATaol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bight

Elizabeth Bishop has a wonderful poem titled The Bight, which has a lengthy metaphor on the word "bight", comparing it to one's reaching middle age.

From: James Getaz (jamesgetazATverizon.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--copse

A 60s' riddle using slang that is obsolete was:

Q. What did Lady Macbeth say to her husband when she saw Birnam Wood approaching Dunsinane Castle?
A. Cheese it, the copse!

From: David Tuggy (david_tuggyATsil.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--succor

I remember when I was a child hearing of an American millionaire who paid for the restoration of an historic British church which had been damaged in the Blitz. During the reconsecration ceremony, which the millionaire attended, the vicar was expressing to God his gratitude for the American's aid, but the words he chose were unfortunate: "Lord, how we thank Thee for this succour from abroad." The American stood up and walked out of the church, deeply offended.

Whether or not it actually happened just that way, it's a good story!

From: Ajit Thyagarajan (ajitATbrookmoor.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--succor

This word has been part of my vocabulary since my first grade, when I joined the infamous Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (OLPS) High School in Chembur, Bombay. You can well imagine the homophonic humiliation we had to endure from kids at the other schools.

From: Christine Simm (christinesimmATcomcast.net)
Subject: succor

I'm in a drama club at my school, and we had just finished Shakespeare's As You Like It. There's a scene in Act 2, Scene 4, where Rosalind (disguised as Ganymede) introduces her cousin, Celia (disguised as Aliena), as "a young maid with travel much oppressed. And faints for succor."

During one of the many rehearsals prior to our show, Celia threw in, just before Corin's line, "You callin' me sucka?" Our director liked it so much, we left it in.

From: William S. Haubrich, MD (willhaubATaol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--auricle

From: James O. Kimmel (w8fejimATgo-concepts.com)
Subject: Re: Too many words?

When someone complains of "too many words" I can only recall the movie "Amadeus", and the scene where a very young Mozart plays a composition for the Emperor of Austria who fancies himself a great musician and music critic. After an inspired performance by the young genius he tells Mozart that he doesn't like it because it has "too many notes". It showed the difference between an indulged hack who would be ignored save for the crown he wore, and a genius whose notes were so perfectly counted by his talent.

From: Veronica St.Claire (glarpATearthlink.net)
Subject: Appreciation

My cousin Keith's daughter Laura who is 17 and about to enter Oxford next year absolutely adores Wordsmith. Her Father tells me that she files each day's word for reference. This is a young woman who has had enormous academic success (was in the top five students, i.e. one of the five top students, in the UK out of 363,368 students a year ago and then last year achieved a near record for her entrance exams to Oxford). I don't have to tell you that she craves challenge and your effort each day is just what she loves. Thanks a lot!

Words strain, / Crack and sometimes break, under the burden, / Under the tension, slip, slide, perish, / Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place, / Will not stay still. -T.S. Eliot, poet (1888-1965)

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