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AWADmail Issue 26

January 31, 2001

A 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: Today's online chat

Our guest for the fourth online chat will be Wendalyn Nichols, Editorial Director of Random House Reference. Join us today, Jan 31, 2001 at 11 PM GMT (6 PM EST U.S.).

From: Zachary D Torry (zachary.d.torryATuth.tmc.edu)
Subject: clarification

There is a word that I have had a longstanding argument about with a few people. The word myriad, as far as I can tell is used as both an adjective and as a noun (i.e. a myriad stars in the sky; a myriad of people in this city). So, my question is, are both acceptable. I once read in an issue of The Reader's Digest that myriad can only be correctly used as an adjective. This has been my argument. However, I read a statement by you (below) that used it as a noun.

"Reading a myriad of answers, I felt I was interpreting a Rorschach test. Here are some selections."

What is the story here, Anu? Are both correct to use?

    I do make mistakes but this was not one. The word `myriad' is indeed used both as an adjective and as a noun. While you are settling arguments with those people, can you also tell them it is perfectly acceptable to use `decimate' to describe large-scale destruction, not just 10%? English is a living, growing language. If it were not, we would still be using `egregious' to mean outstanding and `nice' to say stupid. A general plea to all: if you respond to an AWAD message, please do not include it with your reply. I already have it. -Anu

From: W.S. Haubrich, MD (willhaubATaol.com)
Subject: Re: quartan

The use of "tertian" and "quartan" in medicine can be confusing. Whereas a tertian fever (typical of infection by the malarial parasite Plasmodium vivax) can be said to recur every third day, the interval between spikes of fever is only one day.

Similarly, whereas spikes of a quartan fever (typical of infection by Plasmodium malariae) recur at intervals of only two days. The seeming inconsistency is explained by the ancient custom of counting the day of occurrence as the first day. You were correct in pointing out that the sequence of days must be counted inclusively.

From: Barbara Grunwald (bgrunwaldATfresno.ca.gov)
Subject: barrator

I had never heard the term barrator, but as a lawyer I am familiar with the crime committed by one: barratry. In California, this misdemeanor is defined as: "[T]he practice of exciting groundless judicial proceedings." (Ca. Pen. Code, 158.)

Given the horrors of being involved in the legal system, it does not surprise me that barrators would be found in almost the inner circle of hell!

From: Barbara Fix (baafixATearthlink.net)
Subject: Barrator

Did you realize how appropriate it was for barrator to be the Word of the Day on Martin Luther King Day? I recall that one of the great civil rights cases from Dr. King's time (it might have been an early Warren Court decision) was the one where a deep South state tried to destroy the NAACP by charging that the NAACP's attempt to find justice in the courts was solicitation of clients and punishable as barratry. The Supreme Court held something to the effect that what the NAACP was doing was protected, whether or not it was technically barratry. So when I saw the word "barrator," I realized that, of course, a barrator is one who commits barratry. How nice.

From: Jenny Hill (j.hillATliberty-it.co.uk)
Subject: RE: A.Word.A.Day--wain

Here in Northern Ireland, "wain" also means "child".

From: Naomi Whiting Towner (zimbie13ATaol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--woof

The word woof is no longer in common use, although you will find it in the textile literature when doing research. In the 1940s and 1950s it was replaced by the word weft...a term most often used by the handweaver for filling...a term used in the textile industry.

As a professional artist/teacher trained both for designing fabrics for the textile industry and as a fine artist, I can assure you that the term woof has historical significance but is considered obsolete.

From: Ellen Bergh (mastermediaAThughes.net)
Subject: boondocks: another meaning

In the recreational vehicle world to boondock is to stay in a location without hookups of water or electricity. Motorhomes are often parked around Mission Bay in San Diego and people are living in them without paying for hookups, its called boondocking. Its a well known fact that throughout the US Walmart permits travelers to stay in their parking lot overnight without paying, as a good neighbor gesture. That is one reason they sell milk, bread in their stores. Oh the things you learn!

From: Tim O'Hearn (tohearnATlewinger.com)
Subject: Boondocks

Boondocks may be the only Tagalog-based word to have made it into the title of an American song ("Down in the Boondocks"). The word became popular in America as Navy and Marine veterans returned from the Philippines after World War II. It is even carried on in the U.S. Navy, which generally calls their low topped boots issued at boot camp "boondockers." There is even a verb form, boondocking, which generally means wilderness hiking (perhaps while wearing boondockers).

From: Vladislava Gordic (insomniaATeunet.yu)
Subject: Akio Morita

I'm writing a story on Akio Morita, the soul and the body of SONY Corp. I'd be happy if you share with me some personal anecdotes with Morita that I may use in my article. I promise to quote my sources. Thanx a zil!

From: Umeda Reiko (umedaATtakamatsu-nct.ac.jp)
Subject: on "blase"

I learned this word "blase" through a Jazz tune, "You've changed."

    You've changed
    Your kisses now are so blase
    You're bored with me in every way
    I can't understand
    You've changed
With Billy Holliday's sad voice, I really can feel the meaning. It's sad, but it happens!

His words, like so many nimble and airy servitors, trip about him at command. -John Milton, poet (1608-1674)

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