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AWADmail Issue 265

June 10, 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: Reminder: Wordsmith.org online chat with Anne Curzan

Join us in an online chat on the history of English. Our guest will be Anne Curzan, author, editor, and professor of English at the University of Michigan.

She is the author of "Gender Shifts in the History of English" (2003) and "How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction" (2006) and editor of Journal of English Linguistics.

The event will take place on Tue, June 12, 2007, 6 pm Pacific (GMT -7) For more details, please see wordsmith.org/chat.

From: Nancy Friedman (nancyf wordworking.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--premorse

In "Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Three Times", an episode of "The Simpsons" that first aired in January 2007, the character Milhouse takes preemptive action against a bully and calls it "prevenge". I imagine he subsequently experienced premorse.

From: J.R. Arner (redragon ptd.net)
Subject: George Herbert: Paradise (1633)

Concerning this week's motif of beheading words, you may remember George Herbert. Particularly his poem Paradise.

From: Tracy Johnston (trackyj acer-access.com)
Subject: Re: beheaded words

I was driving past a recently renovated apartment complex today and saw their "Now Leasing" sign which made me giggle. They had added, using a different font and color, the letter "P" to it, making it "Now Pleasing".

A reverse beheading!

From: Paul Laurance (paul.laurance areva-td.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--testate

I liked the fact that this word is "recursively decapitatable":

testate - valid will
estate - land, property
state - condition, nation
tate - common in crosswords, normally defined as an art gallery in London
ate - past tense eat
te - Tellurium
e - base of the natural logarithm

From: Sue Levy (slevy jalcomputer.com.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--testate

My husband remembered an incident when he was a child -- his father received a small share in the estate of a distant relative who died intestate, and there was some discussion in the family because the two oldest members each received one penny more than the others. I just hope they didn't spend it all at once!

From: Richard Koepsell (haskoepr earthlink.net)
Subject: feedback: testate

My wife, who's a medievalist, tells me testate is related to testimony and testes. In fact, in one of the orthodox faiths, when the priest makes the sign of the cross he makes the lowest part of the sign near his testes because he's swearing by his testes that his testimony is true. Thus he's willing to give them up if he's not being truthful--thus testimony.

    It's a popular story, but the origin of the word testify is really in the Indo-European root trei- (three) implying that to testify is to be the third person: to bear witness.
    -Anu Garg

From: Joel Wollner (bashou peacevillage.net)
Subject: Re: strident/trident/rident

Why cut off your beheadings at two?

More than merely trident or rident, hydra-headed strident can endure five decapitating blows revealing hidden inner words:

Strident/trident/rident/ident/dent and, if you dare to stick your neck out far enough, /ent.

Tolkien enthusiasts will immediately recognize ent as the giant, humanoid tree creatures of Middle Earth. But the word has deep roots in old Anglo-Saxon, naming the mythical humanoid giants, and appears extensively in fantasy, folklore, and poetry. Tolkien's adaptation is explored (along with 99 others of his coinage) in the fascinating new book "The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary" by Peter Gilver, Jeremy Marshall, and Edmund Weiner.

The other uncommon inner word, ident, is defined in the OED as: "a short sequence shown on television between programmes to identify the channel."

From: Srinivas Shastri (shastrix gmail.com)
Subject: Topless Words

Ah, that reminds me of a favorite crossword clue:
Fruit, with the top off, is still fruit (6).

From: Grant Barrett (gbarrett worldnewyork.org)
Subject: Dictionary Society of North America New Word Open Mic

This year Chicago will be hosting the biennial conference of the Dictionary Society of North America. Of special interest is the "New Word Open Mic", in which people can share words they've coined and get them critiqued by a panel of experts and then voted on by everyone present. It'll be goofy, not serious. The session is open to the public and press Saturday, June 16th, 4:30 - 5:45 pm in Brea sted Hall, at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in Hyde Park.

More info about the open mic: dtww.org/dsna
More information about the whole conference: sna-chicago.blogspot.com

While language is forming, writers are applauded for extending its limits; when established, for restricting themselves to them. -Isaac Disraeli, writer (1766-1848)

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