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AWADmail Issue 250

February 25, 2007

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

From: Jeff Eertmoed (jeff.eertmoed sheppard.af.mil)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pignus

Not only is it the year of the pig -- but a special "year of the golden pig" which only comes once every 600 years. You will notice that many people are trying to conceive children in Korea this year (condom sales are down 16 percent) in order to have a child born in this lucky year.

From: Thao Tran (thaomt gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pignus

As many Asian countries aside from China follow the lunar calendar, I have found it more appropriate to call it Lunar New Year as opposed to "Chinese" New Year. The Chinese have invented a lot of things, as it did its lunisolar calendar, but we don't attribute a title of origin to the majority of those inventions. As an honorary pig, I felt compelled to send this comment; otherwise, I absolutely adore this week's theme! Happy Lunar New Year!

From: Mary Stewart (indiansmary aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--

Many readers are probably familiar with the expression, "in a pig's eye" to indicate you don't believe the speaker, as for instance, if he said, "I'm going to win the lottery today."

From: Julie Snyder (jsny42443 aol.com)
Subject: porcine words

Porcine may not be one of the chosen "pig" words for this week, but it always brings a smile to my face.

I teach nursing students. When my students are drawing up an injection of heparin, I always ask them what it means when the medication label states that the drug is made from "porcine intestines".

Most of them know, and some do not, but there are always a few befuddled students who look me in the eye and, with all seriousness, say, "It's from porcupines!"

From: Alan Freshwater (alan_freshwater moh.govt.nz)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pignus

Speaking of the maligned pig, in Roviana, Western Province of Solomon Islands, I heard from my in-laws a delightful story of how the early missionaries had the native people totally perplexed when they spoke about putting pearls before swine. This was because to the Melanesians, the pig was a highly regarded and extremely valued animal, while pearls had little or no value, not even as useful, for example, as mother of pearl from the trochus shell, which was used for the beautiful inlay work for which the area is still famous.

Understanding was achieved when the missionaries switched to speaking of putting holy things (hopena) before dogs (siki). The dog was considered the lowest of beasts. To call someone a dog was the gravest insult. The only thing some might consider worse is to call them a crayfish-head (batu hikama) because the head of the crayfish is said to be full of faeces.

A similar amusing historical anecdote about mixed cultural messages was told to me of the time a British navy vessel came to pacify the natives of the Roviana and Vonavona lagoons with a demonstration of power. They shelled the villages of some 'troublemakers" but the captain of the ship came ashore to deliver a warning in person to Kengava, the chief of the Saikile clan. Kengava offered the captain a meal and served him in person, seating him on a chair at a European-style table he had obtained somewhere. Kengava stood beside the table while the Englishman ate the food brought to him.

The British went away satisfied that Kengava had demonstrated by his offering of food, and his servile attitude that he fully understood his place in the scheme of things, while the entire Saikile tribe marvelled at how Kengava had greatly increased his mana by having his distinguished guest accept food from his own hands, and even more, increased his prestige further by having the guest actually sit before him and eat the food while he stood by, thus demonstrating Kangava's dominance as well as his power and generosity.

From: Eric Shackle (eshackle ozemail.com.au)
Subject: Year of the pig

You wrote "If you were born in 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947, 1935, 1923, or 1911, congratulations... In Chinese astrology a pig signifies intelligence, honesty, strength, and fortitude."

I think 1899 must also have been a Year of the Pig, because Olive Riley, who was born 107 years ago, fits that description to perfection. She has just achieved world fame as the oldest of the world's millions of Internet bloggers.

For details and photos, please see The World's First Multi-National e-book.

By words the mind is winged. -Aristophanes, dramatist (c. 448-385 BCE)

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