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AWADmail Issue 258

April 22, 2007

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

From: Anu Garg (words wordsmith.org)
Subject: Wordsmith chat

Join us for a chat with Grant Barrett, lexicographer, editor, and radio show host. The topic of chat is:

Slang -- Degradation or reinvigoration of the language?

Where: wordsmith.org/chat
When: Apr 22, 2007, 6 pm Pacific (GMT -8)

From: Anu Garg (words wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Reinterpreting Shakespeare:
The Times

Cultures (and languages) at the far edge of the world:
TED (video)

Bearded Seals Have Regional Accents:

From: Shweta Bhat (anamikaanyone gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--albedo

Now I know that Albus Dumbledore of Harry Potter was named after the "white bumble bee". :)

From: Brooke SL (brookes_email comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dewlap

I have loved this word for many years, ever since my younger sister got her first rabbit and we studied up on the creatures dutifully at the local library. We learned that when a female rabbit was pregnant she would pull tufts of fur from her thickly furred dewlap to make a cozy bed for her babies. We never had little rabbits, but we would spend many a warm hour on the lawn stroking her fur. The fact that the word was fun to say was just an added bonus. Now we both volunteer teaching children about pet care, and we still love teaching them fun words to say, including "dewlap".

From: Pamela Nyberg (pamelanyberg msn.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dewlap

I immediately thought of Puck's speech in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream:

And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
And on her withered dewlap pour the ale.

From: Ian Scott-Parker (pishtush infowest.com)
Subject: feedback: dewlap

I never hear the word dewlap without remembering the 1968 hit 'The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde' by Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames. Elaine Currie takes up the story, under the headline 'I Wonder Why Dictionaries Went Out Of Fashion': http://tinyurl.com/27457j

"Georgie Fame and his band, The Blue Flames, were very popular and, when they released a record, it was played all the time everywhere. This song was about the bank-robbing duo, Bonnie and Clyde, and included a verse about them, stuffing their loot into a canvas bag. Unfortunately, when Georgie Fame wrote the words to the song, he got a word wrong. Instead of referring to a "burlap" bag, he used the word "dewlap". I couldn't listen to that song without picturing the villains stuffing bank notes into a cow's mouth and that definitely ruined the dramatic impact for me."

This error did not go unnoticed by the rest of the world. Georgie Fame admitted in an interview that somebody had told him, before the song was recorded, that "dewlap" was not the right word but he brushed them off and didn't bother to check. Once the song had been recorded and released, it was too late to do anything about it."

From: Elyse Chapman (eec mac.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dewlap

I suspect that this one inspired the rural Midwestern quip of one having "Dunlap's disease" when your belly done laps over your belt.

From: Mark Gilston (markmmtt austin.rr.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--chaplet

A chaplet was also a small inexpensively produced collection of songs (also called a songster or a garland) generally with a paper cover and without music, for example:

"The Choice Spirit's Chaplet: or a Poesy from Parnassus, being a Select Collection of Songs from the most approved authors: many of them written and the whole compiled by George Alexander Stevens, Esq." Whitehaven, 1771.

The chaplet was probably so called because it was a small chapbook. A chapbook was a small book or pamphlet of popular tales, poems, or songs sold by a chapman or street peddler. [From the Old English céap meaning buying and selling, whence we get the word 'cheap'.]

From: David Ellen Fischer (dw-mefischer sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Chaplet

I am also familiar with a third meaning of "chaplet", from the foundry industry. A chaplet is a small part shaped like a double-headed thumb tack, used to support inner portions of the mold, and used particularly for gray iron castings.

From: Christopher Caris (cjcaris metronet.co.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gnomon

How do elves tell the time?
They consult the gnomon the sundial.

From: Sherry Hardage (hardagesa aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--finial

When I was a child my grandmother placed a multicolored pointed straw hat on my head and said "I complete you with a Mexican Finial." Years later, I inherited some horrible draperies when I purchased a home, and discovered that the decorative ends of curtain bars come off and can be replaced with new ones in an amazing array of styles, marketed as finials.

All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry. -G.K. Chesterton, writer (1874-1936)

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