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AWADmail Issue 290

January 20, 2008

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: Chat with Charlotte Brewer

Everything you wanted to know about the Oxford English Dictionary but were afraid to ask. Chat with Charlotte Brewer, author of "Treasure-House of the Language: The Living OED", Sat, Jan 19, 12 noon Pacific (GMT -8).

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

From Albedo to Zugunruhe:

Racing to Capture Vanishing Languages:
The New York Times

And two new reviews of my latest book:
Business Standard, Outlook.

From: Stuart Tarlowe (starlowe earthlink.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dingle

So then, the berries found in that valley would be called...

From: Lars Clausen (lc statsbiblioteket.dk)
Subject: feedback: dingle

Thank you for pointing out this word today. Just last week, I was discussing it with a coworker, who didn't believe it was an actual word. We were picking out English words from a Danish set of fridge magnets, and "dingle" (meaning "to hang loosely" in Danish) was one of those "this sounds like it should be a word" words, and I have now been vindicated. It's an interesting bilingual exercise to pick words in another language from fridge magnets. Since you're constantly seeing words in the "original" language, you keep switching back to that context, so it can be very hard to spot those that also mean something in the other language.

From: Gideon Klionsky (klionsky brandeis.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dingle

A dingle, as I learned earlier this year, is also a combination of the words "single" and "double". I learned it because my freshman roommate never turned up at college. Having been assigned to a "double" room, I was left as the solitary "single" occupant of that room. Alas, I return to school from winter break today and the residential life crew has found me a roommate. I had my very own "deep narrow wooded valley" for four months, but I am now back in a double room.

From: Marjo van Patten (marjovp sbcglobal.net)
Subject: feedback: dingle

Seeing this word reminds me of the 1960's TV show Laugh-In which used the recurring phrase 'ding-a-ling'. My family had cats, including two gentle black-and-white giants named Ding-a-Ling. They were nicknamed Dingle and we spoke of them as Dingle I and Dingle II.

From: China Blue Moon (lunasea- webtv.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dingle

The word dingle is not a word to be teased from a dictionary if you are as beguiled by Dylan Thomas as I am. Here it is, larger than life, in the first stanza of one of his most lovely and well-known poems.

    Fern Hill
    by Dylan Marlais Thomas

    Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
    About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
    The night above the dingle starry,

From: Joji Domonatani (jdomonatani colonialfiji.com.fj)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dingle

Here's a bit of fun. Christmas is now just gone albeit for another 11 months or so and that lovely carol "Ding Dong Merrily on High" still fresh in my mind, today's word immediately brought up a similar sounding word. A dongle is a small hardware device that connects to a computer to authenticate a piece of software. So in all likelihood, there is a dongle in the Silicon dingle.

From: Catherine Bolton (translations bolton.it)
Subject: Re: scorbutic

Interestingly enough, the Italian word "scorbutico" (which can be a noun or adjective) has two meanings. Like "scorbutic", it refers to scurvy, but it is most commonly used to mean crabby, irritable, cantankerous. If you tell someone he's "scorbutico" you're telling him what a grouch he is! Maybe it's related to the fact that irritability is listed as one of the symptoms of scurvy.

From: Mary Treder (mct919 hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: scorbutic

So the educated pirate says, "Avast, ye scorbutic canines!"

From: Jorge Dagnino (jdagnino med.puc.cl)
Subject: scorbutic

Apparently the Latin for scorbutic is a middle 16th century word derived from the Dutch scheurbuik or ON skyrbjugr. Learned this when preparing a dissertation on the history of scurvy, but being infected by love of words...

From: Ian Simpson (ian.simpson reuters.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--jobbernowl

This is great. The only time I've ever heard the word was in "The Bank Dick" when W.C. Fields tries to get dim Og Oggilby ("Sounds like a bubble in a bathtub") to embezzle bank money to invest in the fabled Beefsteak Mine. "Don't be a luddy-duddy! Don't be a mooncalf! Don't be a jabbernowl! You're not those, are you?"

The living language is like a cow-path: it is the creation of the cows themselves, who, having created it, follow it or depart from it according to their whims or their needs. From daily use, the path undergoes change. A cow is under no obligation to stay. -E.B. White, writer (1899-1985)

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