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AWADmail Issue 271

September 9, 2007

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

From: Andrew Pressburger (andrew.pressburger primus.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--facetiae


    [From Latin facetia (jest). Ultimately from the Indo-European root dhe- (to set or put) which is also the source of do, deed, factory, fashion, face, rectify, defeat, sacrifice, satisfy, Sanskrit sandhi (literally, joining), Urdu purdah (literally, veil or curtain), and Russian duma (council).]
Duma, derived from the verb dumat', to think, was the name of the parliament under the last tsar, and it was brought back as the name of the newly constituted Russian parliament after the fall of the Soviet Union.

In its diminutive form, dumka (plural dumky), the word is used to refer to Ukrainian patriotic ballads. It was in that sense that the Czech composer Antonin Dvořák made it famous by his composition of the piano trio Dumky, beloved by all music lovers the world over.

From: Anna Eliasson (eliassons telia.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--junta

In Swedish, we have imported the meaning "military ruling clique", but long before that, we had "sy-junta", meaning a group of women meeting regularly and doing handicrafts (sy=sew) together. The work of these groups used to be given to the needy, but these days it is often sold at church fetes and the proceeds go to charity. The imported meaning gives a more sinister air to these women who joined together for talking and sewing...

From: Bhavna Jha (bhavnajha gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--junta

Junta is a word we use everyday in India. Everything politicians do is (of course) "for the junta's welfare". Junta is a term we use for The People. I would hardly associate it with a group of military soldiers who take over a country after a coup.

From: Rudy Rosenberg Sr. (rrosenbergsr accuratechemical.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--junta

And let's not forget Junkers, a group of elite German officers who thought they were better than anyone else.

From: Scott W. Langill (slangill dcaccess.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--puissant

Notably "puissance" is a high-jump competition in equestrian show jumping, where the final wall may reach over 7 feet tall. The current record is reportedly just over 8 feet 1 inches.

From: Keith Alexander (kalex23 comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hypergolic

First heard this word used in describing the German WW2 rocket plane, the Messerschmitt Me-163 "Komet". The fuel consisted of two ingredients: Hydrogen Peroxide ("T-Stoff") and Potassium Permanganate ("Z-Stoff"), which were described as hypergolic (= they spontaneously ignite when mixed).

Fueling the Me-163 with the "T-Stoff" and Z-Stoff" into their separate tanks before launch (while guarding against any spillage or accidental mixture) was obviously a very risky business. Almost as tricky as actually flying the Me-163!

From: Susan Glovsky (susan.glovsky hbsr.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hypergolic

This was the story I heard on the radio before seeing the word hypergolic was the word of the day:

BOSTON -- A mysterious gooey material burst into flames after being hauled into a trash boat on the Charles River on Thursday, injuring three crew members. More at AP.

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

If malacia means an abnormal craving for spiced food, what's the word for an abnormal craving for bland food? Tomatoes are said to be the world's most popular fruit (although the U.S. Supreme Court once declared them to be vegetables), and they are bland. The world's largest tomato weighed a massive 7 pounds 12 ounces.(3.52kg). It was as big as a lawn bowls ball and as heavy as a newborn babe. For further details, see my September e-book, http://bdb.co.za/shackle

It is probably no mere historical accident that the word person, in its first meaning, is a mask. It is rather a recognition of the fact that everyone is always and everywhere, more or less consciously, playing a role. -Robert Ezra Park, sociologist (1864-1944)

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