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AWADmail Issue 264

June 3, 2007

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

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

A genetic basis for language tones?:
Scientific American

Spelling Bee contestant spells "serrefine" on his way to championship:
Washington Post

Alphabet changes color of communication:
CNet News

From: Todd S. Jenkins (epistrophy aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pawky

In 1958, jazz harpist Dorothy Ashby composed and recorded a tune called "Pawky". I had no idea what the title meant until today, having never seen it anywhere besides that recording (Hip Harp, Prestige Records 7140). I thought it was a nonsense word she had made up. Now that I know the meaning, the title seems perfectly suited to the music. Frank Wess's flute solo is as dryly witty as anything he ever came up with.

From: DJ Pass (djpass eastlink.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pawky

The only time I have encountered the word pawky was in a Sherlock Holmes comment to Watson in "The Valley of Fear": "You are developing a certain unexpected vein of pawky humor, Watson, against which I must learn to guard myself."

From: Art Haykin (theart webtv.net)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--scrutator

Well, I've heard of sweet tators, Idaho tators, red tators, baked tators, mashed tators, boiled tators, and commontators, but scrutators?!

From: Griselda Mussett (griselda millipod.com)
Subject: Sequacious - Queens in the house

In Christopher Hansard's very interesting book "The Tibetan Art of Positive Thinking" he describes how in the Bön culture of Tibet which preceded the Buddhist culture, it was normal for the house to belong entirely to the wife or woman, who decided how it was to be run, what the rules were and so on. Her husband was regarded and treated as an honoured guest. This seems a very balanced and harmonious way of behaving, and would avoid sequaciousness.

From: Anne Dobriko (saiyette hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tatterdemalion

I wanted to tell you that today's word is the name I chose for my long-haired torti, Tatterdemalion, which we shorten to Tatters. It fits her to a T! When we had finally decided on her name, she seemed very pleased.

From: Eric Shackle (eshackle ozemail.com.au)
Subject: pawky

"In a pig's eye" is an American rhyming slang phrase meaning "That's a lie", or "I don't believe you." We Aussies sometimes use a rather vulgar phrase, referring to the rear end of the porcine anatomy. How would you like to live in a town called Pig's Eye? Some of its early settlers became so tired of being ridiculed that they changed its comical name to a far more respectable one - St. Paul, Minnesota. The story is told in The World's First Multi-National e-Book: http://bdb.co.za/shackle

The finest words in the world are only vain sounds if you cannot understand them. -Anatole France, novelist, essayist, Nobel laureate (1844-1924)

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