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AWADmail Issue 243

January 7, 2007

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages

From: Matthew Male (matt mmale.freeserve.co.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hootenanny

An excellent choice of word for 1 Jan... here in the UK many of us toasted the new year in by watching Jools Holland's Hootenanny on the BBC! The format of the show almost perfectly fitted the definition given -- except that the music wasn't exclusively of the "folk" genre.

From: David HB Drake (david davidhbdrake.com)
Subject: Hootenanny

Supporting the "Thing-a-ma-jig" definition of hootenanny, I saw a tool used by lumberjacks which was over 100 years old listed as a "Hootenanny" in the Rhinelander WI Lumberjack Museum.

The sign implied no one knew what it was used for.

From: Chris Hope (thehopes-chris kc.rr.com)
Subject: Hootenanny

Our favorite all-women bluegrass group is called the Hootin' Annies, and includes "Stephie-Annie, Blondie-Annie, Karla-Annie, Patti-Annie, and Mary-Annie. They can be found in the MO, KS, IA area.

From: Tim Chavez (timchavez cox.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hootenanny

Hootenanny has another specific meaning also, probably evolved from those listed. A hootenanny is also a term for an old jalopy that had been tricked up with fancy paint, loud horns, or frills - much like the jitneys of SE Asia today. The term seemed to originate in the flatland and hillbilly country, but the term was taught to me by my grandfather from NE Kansas. I confirmed its usage many years later from Iowans, Indianans, and one Kentuckian.

We heard it used in an old movie once, about the same vintage of the Music Man. The part of its composure that made it loud, in color and in sound, was what made it clownish and not a respectable conveyance for ordinary folks. I think Chitty Chitty Bang Bang could have been a hootenanny if it had been from the N central plains of the US.

"Here comes old Jeb in his Hootenanny. He must be going to a parade"

From: Dan Leithauser (dleithaus gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hootenanny

I am familiar with this word, as a chemist selling industrial water treatment chemicals and products. In addition to the normal definitions, hootenanny is also the informal name of an inexpensive piece of "equipment" used to mix chemicals, usually a waste water treatment polymer, into a stream of water. The hootenanny itself is a piece of pipe installed near a mixing zone. Polymer or some other chemical is injected just prior to the mixing zone into the stream of water. Inside is some "highly engineered" chain; the chain provides turbulence and mixing. Some people sell more highly engineered mixing surfaces. Some vendors prefer not to use the word hootenanny, although they will know exactly what you are talking about if you call them...

From: George Miller (glmmrm hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tohubohu

You took me back to my seminary days nearly fifty years ago. I always liked this word. It makes its appearance in the first chapter of Genesis and describes the condition of creation before the world was formed. It also pretty well described us young seminarians, conscious of a calling but also aware of chaos both around us and within. We were ready for forming. I didn't realize it had crept into secular use, however. Our headlines suggest that it should be right at home in our "modern" world. I might add that we were taught to pronounce it "tohouvohou". A bit of chaos in the very pronunciation, perhaps?

From: Joel Mabus (joel.mabus pobox.com)
Subject: hullabaloo and hootenanny

As it happens two of the words this week were also titles of American TV shows in the early 1960s. First "Hootenanny" then "Hullabaloo" were live music shows during the pop-folk era. I was just a lad then, but remember well those shows with the odd names.

From: Rosemary Timoney (rtimoney bellsouth.net)
Subject: Nonagenarians (Re: AWADmail 242

Re last week's references to the world's oldest bloggers, I'd like to add a short note. It is less than a year since a dear friend of mine died, and I still miss our daily email exchange. This wonderful lady had begun her computer experience only after she turned ninety. Because she was an accomplished pianist, I happened to send her a week's worth of words related to music when they appeared several years ago. She enjoyed them so much that we established a practice that lasted several years, right up to the days of her final and mercifully brief illness at 95. I would receive A.Word.A.Day each morning and send it on to her, commenting on its familiarity or its novelty and adding other personal notes, sometimes brief, sometimes not. The only reason I did not send her her own subscription was that the forwarded entry was our shared experience. On most days, Helen (of delightful and undiminished mind and spirit) wrote back with a wise and witty response. I was unwilling to give up this treasured exchange. She is gone now, but I still think of her daily when I read A.Word.A.Day. Thanks for that memory as well as the pleasure provided by the words.

If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur. -Doug Larson, Olympic Gold Medalist (1902-1981)

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