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AWADmail Issue 27

March 11, 2001

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

From: Penny Pennington (e00a548ATpoptart.llnl.gov)
Subject: Fletcherize

Today's word reminded me of having dinner with my sister, brother-in-law, and young niece, several years ago. Cindy (my niece) was gobbling down her food for all she was worth. My brother-in-law said, "Honey, you need to chew each bite at least 20 times before you swallow." The next "bite" she took was a spoonful (very full) of mashed potatoes. We couldn't help but giggle as she sat there chewing her mashed potatoes 20 times! Thanks for the chuckle.

From: Stu Lucas (stulucasATaol.com)
Subject: Fletcherize?

Gee, Anu, not to rail but I thought (from its linguistic roots) that Fletcherize was what one did after tarring someone.

From: Raj Kamath (rkamathATjaguar.com)
Subject: Re: grinch

Grinch is a good guy NOW. Remember that he was redeemed during Christmas of 1957. I think a change is required to the English dictionary to reflect it. In fact, Scrooge was redeemed more than a 100 years ago.

Every saint has a past and every sinner a future. -Oscar Wilde

From: Anders Martinson (anders_martinsonATintuit.com)
Subject: You use "grinch" as if it's a bad thing...

The words grinch and scrooge seem to have worked their way into the language thanks to people who don't really know the stories. After all at the end of the stories:
"Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world."


"[T]he Grinch's small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart
didn't feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load
through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys!
And the food for the feast!"

If anyone sees their heart grow three sizes or becomes better than their word, they sound more like a role model than a villain to me.

From: Jim Scarborough (jimsATiname.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Chicken Little

Ah! I heard this one on the radio that woke me this morning. The performer croons, "I'm gonna lay like this forever / until the sky falls down on me." Those of us who remember our lie/lay rules from English class might immediately recognize this tune as a reference to Chicken Little - she must lay something (presumably an egg), and the sky is falling!

From: Tom Kimmel (tkimmelATsch.com)
Subject: Re: Chicken Little

This reminded me of the site for the operatic version of the story: La Pulcina Piccola at http://www.pulcina.org.

From: Tabone Patrick (patrick.e.taboneATmagnet.mt)
Subject: Chicken Little - the Malta perspective

Every time I have read the tale here in Malta, and every time it was told to me as a child, it was always 'Chicken Licken'. Is this a regional variation? You have rocked one of the foundation stones of my youth: I feel as if the sky is falling down.

From: Trevor Mathers (trevor.mathersATalnwick.org.uk)
Subject: Chicken Little

I remember the story of the chicken who thought the sky was falling on his head - but I remember its name was Chicken Licken, not Chicken Little (with other characters such as Hen Len, Foxy Loxy etc).

From: Michael Martin (michael.martinATssc.nasa.gov)
Subject: Definition of dyscalculia

I must disagree with your definition of dyscalculia. I was recently diagnosed with dyscalculia, and although it means that I have trouble with math and, generally, any sort of sequencing, it does not mean that I am unable to do math problems. I am currently an engineer and work on rocket engines. I have a BS in mechanical engineering and suffered through a lot of math to get it. Dyslexia is a brother to Dyscalculia and yet dyslexia does not mean an inability to read.

From: Gail Charette (gail.charetteATvideotron.ca)
Subject: Thoughts on today's word - epuration

Today's word (epuration) had me doing a double take! Living in Quebec, I sometimes absorb French words into my English thoughts without realizing it. "Centre d'epuration" is a common sign around here ... signifying a water purification plant. Upon reading the English definition, however, with its "especially removal of officials or politicians believed to be disloyal", I had the sudden mental image of all those plants being secretly used to house political dissidents! ;O)

It is always interesting to realize how our use of words affects our perception of things.

From: Susan Avelar (susan56ATflash.net)
Subject: aeiou

My son's name is Aurelio. It has Latin roots and is common in Mexico. I found the name on my husband's birth certificate as his great grand-mother. Her name was Aurelia.

From: Maria Spiegel (m_spiegelATangelfire.com)
Subject: Words with AEIOU

While perusing the shampoo bottles in my shower (such fine reading; there are many, many plot twists... ;), I found a word that has all the vowels in it: tetrasodium. Well, I actually found three, but only 'tetrasodium' had them once and only once (the others were 'revolutionary' and 'stearalkonium'). Out of curiosity, what is the shortest word with all the vowels in it?

    The shortest word with each vowel used once is the name of perhaps the largest tree: sequoia. If you need all the vowels to be in order, you're looking for a rare synonym for airy: aerious (AWAD, Aug 6, 2000). -Anu

From: Frank Jackson (fjacksonATagraus.com)
Subject: anecdote

I recall an anecdote wherein a lady told Edwin Newman that she was intimidated when corresponding with him, due to his knowledge of the English language and semantics, and her fear of misusing the language. His response was something like, "Imagine how I must feel." I must say, I know exactly how that lady felt, when I correspond with you.

    Thanks, Frank, for an interesting story. And thanks to Newman, you know how I feel every time I open my mouth in front of 400,000+ passionate linguaphiles. As a student of English, I learn from each. -Anu

Every word was once a poem. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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