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AWADmail Issue 194January 7, 2006
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)
It Was a Heckuva Phrase:
Whales Speak in Dialects:
National Foreign Language Initiative:
From: Manoj Saranathan (amicusdiaboliAThotmail.com)
There is also "nudiustertian" which is pertaining to day before yesterday.
From: Rebeca M. Plank, M.D (rplankATpartners.org)
My family and I always get a laugh in the spring remembering our favorite definition of perennial: It's a plant that, had it lived, would have grown back year after year.
From: Don Eckhardt (doneckATalum.mit.edu)
Millennium is frequently misspelled with only a single "n". Its cognates -- perennial, annual, annuity, anniversary, centennial, etc. - are usually spelled correctly, so I'm flummoxed over why millennium is so often botched.
The State of New Hampshire even casts the misspelling in bronze on both sides of a historic marker. The Deputy State Archaeologist told me, "We became aware of the error in the historical marker almost immediately after it was put in place. It is only a small consolation that several other errors were caught before the marker was cast."
From: D Helmick (helmickpartsATatt.net)
The classic (in)famous anachronism of a Roman chariot racer wearing a wristwatch in 1959's epic film "Ben-Hur" came immediately to mind.
From: Johanna Meyer-Mitchell (johannammATaol.com)
I belong to a group called the Society for Creative Anachronism. We recreate the best of the middle ages in modern times. (We try not to bring the plague or widespread ignorance, but rather courtliness and a study of the arts of pre-1066 Europe.) Because that's a wide span of time, and because we can't entirely leave the 21st century behind (few of us are willing to give up spectacles, and we arrive generally by automobile), our gatherings abound in anachronisms.
The story goes that shortly after the founding of the group, Marion Zimmer
Bradley (science fiction author and early member of the group) needed a
name for the group to reserve a park for a gathering, and it was she who
first came up with the name.
From: Martine Natasha Johnson (martinenatashaATgmail.com)
Christian author C.S. Lewis (whose The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe recently was made into a film which claimed the top spot at the US box office) wrote about the mystery of time and humanity's discomfort with it in a letter to his friend Sheldon Vanauken (author of A Severe Mercy) on December 23, 1950:
"Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures? Notice how we are perpetually surprised at Time. (`How time flies! Fancy John being grown-up and married! I can hardly believe it!') In heaven's name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something about us that is not temporal."
Imagine that! Fish were created for the sea and so they are comfortable in that realm. Perhaps humans were not created to truly live in this world and will not truly thrive until they have been spirited away into the world they were created for.
From: David Halperin (halperin.davidATgmail.com)
The time theme reminded me that Hebrew has a commonly used word meaning "last year": estaqqad; and a word for "last night": emes. I wonder if other languages have single words for these.
From: Rama Kulkarni (ramaa1ATpacbell.net)
There's a great poem The Queen's Marie that includes the word "yestreen".
From: Lance Feldman (lfeldmanATrocketmail.com)
In your January 2nd AWAD you wrote:
"And with a new year, we feel our knapsack of time is replenished."
I disagree. All of the people I know look at the new year's celebration as a commemoration of the passing of a precious year of life. Another year has got behind us leaving us fewer to enjoy.
While the great march of time continues on indefinitely, our individual lives are each closer to the end. There is no replenishment of "our knapsack of time". And it is only from optimism and hope for better times that we, secondarily, greet the new year with good cheer and noisy celebration.
This note is not intended to be at all gloomy, but merely a reminder of the natural cycle of life.
Words form the thread on which we string our experiences. -Aldous Huxley, novelist (1894-1963)