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AWADmail Issue 262

May 20, 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: Interesting stories from the net

Tocological trickery:
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
(If only they were reading AWAD. From the archives: tokology)

Bilingual are better spellers:

Pentagon setting up Language Corps:
Indiana Star

From: Lucie Singh (lmsingh aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mesmeric

Here's what I've thought about for a long time: If Lord Cardigan had been the gambler and the Earl of Sandwich was desirous of a jersey that buttoned up the front, why we'd all be eating cardigans and wearing sandwiches.

From: Mary Ellen Leuver (maryellen.leuver yale.edu)
Subject: Correction of Mesmeric

I have a comment about the origins of mesmeric. The email stated:

[After physician F.A. Mesmer (1734-1815) who discovered a way of inducing hypnosis through what he called animal magnetism.]

This is actually historically inaccurate. Franz Anton Mesmer did indeed start the phenomenon termed "mesmerism" in the late eighteenth century but his practice of animal magnetism did not involve what we would term hypnosis. His theory was that there was "but one disease and one cure". The disease was an imbalance of a cosmic magnetic fluid in the body which purportedly solved through the passing of magnets over the body. Mesmer eventually began to lessen his use of magnets and relied on his own skill and person to produce the calming and regenerative effects. It was not until his follower, Armand-Marie-Jacques de Chastenet, Marquis de Puységur, realized that he could put patients into deep, trance-like states that "mesmerism" became likened to hypnotism. The eponymic use of the term is loose as it was not Mesmer who actually began the phenomenon we call "mesmerism" today.

Mary Ellen Leuver
Doctoral Candidate, Yale Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, History of Science and Medicine

From: Philip Wilkinson (philipwilkinson ukonline.co.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--penelope

Fascinated to read about penelope the day I finished reading Roger Green's "Hydra and the Bananas of Leonard Cohen" which includes the word penelopize, derived from the delaying tactic employed by Homer's Penelope:

"I was tempted to penelopize, to go back to the beginning and start again in order to postpone the moment of discussion."

From: Gary Muldoon (muldg aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Freudian Slip

I love Freudian slips. They remind me of the joke about the man who told his analyst, "Last night I made a terrible Freudian slip. We were having dinner with my mother-in-law. I turned to her and I meant to say, "Would you please pass the butter, Mother?" But what came out was, "You stupid cow! You've ruined my whole life!"

From: Carsten Kruse (c-kruse t-online.de)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Freudian slip

I well remember a discussion in a German newsgroup (the name of which I can't remember, however ;-) where someone used the term "Freudian slip" and it turned out it provoked a Freudian slip itself since another guy asked why this topic should have anything to do with panties. :-)

Bare lists of words are found suggestive to an imaginative and excited mind. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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