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AWADmail Issue 221

August 6, 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)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Iranian Leader Bans Usage of Foreign Words:

Au Revoir, Freedom Fries:
New York Times

A Defense of the Word "Sucks":

From: Rudy Rosenberg Sr. (rrosenbergsr AT accuratechemical.com)
Subject: verbs in English

Verbs and nouns are what makes English such a versatile language. In English, almost every word can become a verb unlike in French where a noun needs a verb to make it go.

For instance, :Knife. You can knife someone. In French, un couteau will just lie there, inanimate, until a verb brings it to action: Donner un coup de couteau.

That is what made the prose of Jacques Brel so great. He took everyday French nouns and used them (incorrectly) as verbs. e.g. derrieriser instead of using the more common "Enculler"

From: Carolanne Reynolds (gg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: verbs

I think of verbs as the engines of the language.

From: Ann Andrusyszyn (aandrusyszyn AT barrie.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--guttle

This word took me back to the songs of northern England as the only place I've regularly heard "guttle" used is in a millworker's song -- from the early 1800s I think -- and the chorus goes:

"Poverty poverty knock
My loom is a-saying all day
Poverty poverty knock
Gaffer's too skinny to pay
Poverty poverty knock
Keeping one eye on the clock
I know I can guttle
When I hear my shuttle
Go poverty poverty knock."

The slow steady beat of the song and the words (pov er ty pov er ty knock) does indeed echo the steady thrum of a shuttle as it travels from side to side of the loom in the cotton mills.

From: Liz King (ejking AT micron.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dehisce

This is very timely for me. Recently I trimmed some mature pods on my sweet pea and threw them on the compost pile. Last night I heard a snapping sound like a twig breaking and finally realized that as the pods dried, they were opening and releasing their seeds -- dehisce. My lupine also does this -- flinging its seeds as the pods dry and spring open. How wonderful I now have a word to describe it!

From: Linda Owens (lindafowens AT netzero.net)
Subject: dehisce

My favorite dehiscent plant is jewelweed (aka touch-me-not, impatiens biflora) When you brush by, touch, or squeeze the ripened pods, they spring open and leave curly residue and seeds flying about. The whole plant is good against poison ivy, if you rub on the juice, or make a potion by boiling the plant in water, letting it sit for 15 minutes, and then refrigerate for a few weeks. It can be frozen for the winter. I've used this potion on my kids' chicken pox with better results than prescription drugs or OTCs.

From: Lee Sataline, MD (leesataline1 AT cox.net)
Subject: dehiscence

The word dehiscence is one of the most vexing words in the surgeon's lexicon. When a post-op patient "dehisces", one or more of the tissue layers of the incision have come apart. In a worst scenario, underlying organs (e.g gut, lung, etc.) bulge out of the wound. (In Shakespeare's Henry VI, the injured Clifford exclaims, "The air has got into my deadly wounds...") There are also non-surgical dehiscences that involve a tooth or the pharynx. My favorite term from medical school -- a long, long time ago -- was Zuckerkandle's dehiscence, a defect in the skull's ethmoid bone.

From: Robert Cook (geoduck42 AT hotmail.com)
Subject: Using A.Word.A.Day Words (Re: AWADmail 220)

Re: Linda Scott's question about using A.Word.A.Day words.. I create a daily fantasy "webcomic" called The Mansion of E, in which many of the characters' names have been taken from my archive of A.Word.A.Day messages; whenever possible, the name reflects some aspect of the character's occupation or personality. Some of the ones I've used are Agita, Cumshaw ("Comshaw" in the comic), Telic, Spatchcock, and Nevus.

From: Emily Bott (palaka AT hawaii.rr.com)
Subject: Uses of AWAD

Let me count the ways. I read the emails from my kids first, then delete the spam. Now it's time to luxuriate in AWAD. A secondary benefit: moving gingerly because of a compression fracture of the spine, I don't feel all that great at 6 a.m. You serve as an honorable distraction.

From: Sparrow F. Alden (lfsalden AT alumni.bowdoin.edu)
Subject: Re: AWADmail Issue 220

In my fondest imaginings, I write great fiction novels (in truth, I write mediocre grocery lists, but we all have our dreams). Each morning when I read a new Word A Day, I imagine how it might fit into dialogue between two favorite characters. One of them is a plain-spoken gal who tends to use those good, solid words of Old English derivation; her very educated friend uses those of French or Latin or Greek root.

From: Tori Miller (notjustebonyandivory AT yahoo.com)
Subject: Uses of Wordsmith words

My absolute favorite use of Wordsmith words is in my essays. I'm a high school student, and so far, my English teachers have been... cough... sub-par. When I use some of the more obscure words in my paper, they often get circled and have a question mark placed to the side. I, for one, find this endlessly entertaining.

From: Paul Loscocco (ploscocco AT hotmail.com)
Subject: How do you use AWAD

As a middle school teacher, I love to challenge and stimulate my students with words and meanings. I save the words in a special file on my school account, and use our "Smart Board" to put the entry out for them to see and discuss. I am also the word master for our local spelling bee, so many of the words are used to entertain and confound the local spellers.

This aphorism would be seven words long if it were six words shorter.

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