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AWADmail Issue 287

December 30, 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 at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Speaking/booksigning schedule

Here's my speaking schedule for the coming months:

  • Bellingham, WA: Tue, Jan 8, 2008, 7pm
    Village Books

  • Seattle, WA: Mon, Jan 14, 2008, 6:30pm
    Seattle Public Library, Ballard branch, with Secret Garden Bookshop

  • Bainbridge Island, WA: Thu, Feb 14, 2008, 7:30pm
    Eagle Harbor Book Company
See more details.

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: 2008 calendar for Wordsmith Chat

Wordsmith Chats are online events where you can chat with invited guests and ask questions on topics related to words, languages, etc.

We'll kick off the 2008 season of Wordsmith Chat with the following authors. See more details.

  • Charlotte Brewer, author of "Treasure-House of the Language: The Living OED"
    Chat topic: The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary
    Sat, Jan 19, 12 noon Pacific (GMT -8)

  • Seth Lerer, author of "Inventing English"
    Chat topic: The Journey of the English Language
    Wed, Feb 6th, 7pm Pacific

  • Ben Yagoda, author of "When you catch an adjective, kill it"
    Chat topic: Friend Me, Pimp My Ride, and Signage: Or, the Ever-Changing Parts of Speech
    Mon, Feb 25, 6pm Pacific

  • Michael Erard, author of "Um...: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean"
    Chat topic: Verbal Blunders and What They Mean
    Mon, Mar 17th, 6pm Pacific

From: Michael Dresdner (janeandmichael msn.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lahar

Here in the shadow of Mt. Rainier, we live in the path of a lahar, and everyone knows that word all too well. Those who track such things tell us it is an issue of when the mountain will produce its next flow, not if. As a result, all the towns in the predicted flow path have lahar warning sirens and lahar evacuation drills. The area roads all sport signs showing lahar evacuation routes. However, all the people around here, including those in the news media, pronounce the word la-HAR, with the accent on the second syllable.

From: John Ewen (john_ewen clear.net.nz)
Subject: lahar

The word lahar carries more resonance with New Zealanders than with most countries' residents. It appeared in AWAD on Christmas Eve, and on that day in 1953, the crater lake of a volcano here, Mt Ruapehu, broke out and partially emptied, the resulting lahar washed away a rail bridge miles downstream, and 151 out of 285 people on an express train were killed when it crashed into the river.

From: M. Condes (mcondes)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lahar

I just want to share that lahar is also a Filipino word for the same meaning. The most famous event in the Philippines we can relate to "lahar" would be the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, the effect of which was felt worldwide.

From: Asit Ganguly (asit.ganguly ril.com)
Subject: feedback: lahar

In Sanskrit lahar means wave and the same word is used in other Indian languages like Hindi, Bengali etc. Even the Javanese description of the word is a wave-like structure or formation. I wonder if some ancient connection of India with Java and the Indonesian archipelago carried this word from Sanskrit.

From: Eileen Bertie (nlper999 earthlink.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--adobe

I was thrilled that today, Christmas 2007, had the word "adobe". Two years ago almost exactly, we bought a 1914 adobe house in Superior, Arizona. It was 843 square feet, and we reduced it from eight rooms to three, ditched everything but the floor boards, adobe walls, wavy glass windows (quotation was $11,800 to replace) and will likely spend the rest of our lives rehabilitating.

Adobe has naturally insulating qualities. We have a defective factory unit for AC, and the last two years, could not get it running before mid July... with ceiling fans, and open windows at night and early AM, we have been perfectly happy for a month or so in the heat.

We have a small furnace that we don't need to run much (we only get into the 30s at night) but the virtues of the adobe building explain why, when there was no heating or cooling technology, that adobe was the construction method of choice here in the Southwest.

Adobe is the greatest! It has given us not only a piece of history, but a screamingly energy efficient house.

Thank you for acknowledging adobe. Check out our rehabilitation trials and tribulations.

From: Philip Setnik (psentik yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--kahuna

In looking at today's word, I thought it interesting that the word for priest in Hebrew is so closely related. That word is pronounced "ko-hayn" and gives rise to many English last names: Cohen, Cohn, Kahn, and even Katz (which is an abbreviation of "kohayn tzedek" - righteous priest).

Kahuna in Hebrew is translated as "priesthood" and refers to the inherent holiness that priests have. It is possible for a priest to lose his Kahuna under certain circumstances.

From: Glenn Farber (farber allmail.net)
Subject: Re: kahuna

It's a stunning linguistic coincidence that "kahuna" in Hebrew is the term for the priesthood. A priest is a "kohen", and in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, the high priest was the "kohen gadol" -- "the big kahuna"! Philologos, who does a word column in the Jewish weekly _Forward_, explores the coincidence at http://www.forward.com/articles/big-kahuna/

From: Doug Nordman (doug_nordman hotmail.com)
Subject: Kahuna

The Hawaiian culture and language has undergone a tremendous renaissance since the 1970s. The 2000 U.S. Census estimates the state's population of native Hawaiians at over 280,000, and many of them have revived the language in their families and at work. Hawaiian music has its own Grammy award category, including albums produced entirely with Hawaiian lyrics, and there are numerous popular Hawaiian-lyric songs on local radio stations. In formal education alone there are several Hawaiian-language schools (grades K-12) and even a doctorate degree program at the University of Hawaii. The local Star-Bulletin newspaper publishes a weekly column written entirely in the Hawaiian language.

From: Elizabeth Hoffman (ehoff sover.net)
Subject: Hawaiian language making strong comeback (Re: kahuna)

Here's a great article about the current state of the Hawaiian language. The number of speakers is actually increasing!
Boston Globe.

From: Charles Laufer (Lauferct70 webtv.net)
Subject: Noel

The New York Times crossword puzzle for December 16, 2007 also related to "No El" The clues were various movies and the answers after finally figuring out the theme were a marvel. "The Santa Cause", "Dead Man Waking", "Pup Fiction",, "The Seventh Sea", "The God Rush", and so on. Is this just a coincidence or is it something out of this word?

From: Ann Eddie (aeddie rogers.com)
Subject: No el

Thanks so much for this word game. We used it last night at our Christmas Eve get together and people who are experienced word-gamers but without access to pencils thought up every possible connection for the five words. I had a hard time getting them to free up their thought processes then a writer, a musician, and a graphic artist working independently got on track and using pantomime I finally got them to the solution. Loads of fun. Thanks.

From: Mark Farrell (markf_41 yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: AWADmail Issue 286

A local radio station had a "No L" weekend this past weekend in which they didn't play any song with "L" in the title.

From: James Friend (frienddjp comcast.net)
Subject: Another "no el"

Thanks for another great year of word enjoyment. The theme for last week's words reminded me of the joke that went around New York City many years ago after they tore down the elevated train tracks on 3rd Avenue.

Q. What do Christmas and 3rd Avenue have in common?
A. No el.

All words are pegs to hang ideas on. -Henry Ward Beecher, preacher and writer (1813-1887)

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