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AWADmail Issue 303

April 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: Interesting stories from the net

Obituary: Eugene Ehrlich, 85, Word Connoisseur
The New York Times

He Wrote 200,000 Books (but Computers Did Some of the Work)
The New York Times

The End of the Line?

From: Max Montel (maxmontel yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cenotaph

I first came across this word when reading a book of tricks by the magician/comedians Penn and Teller. One card trick they teach is a way to make sure that someone picks a particular card, in this case the three of clubs. You're supposed to have the person pick the card, guess the wrong card, then go on a sightseeing tour of Los Angeles. Include the Forest Lawn Cemetery in the tour and find Penn and Teller's cenotaph, which looks like this. A pretty neat trick. Never done that version of it though.

From: Venkat K. (vk redisolve.com)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--cenotaph

My office for the last few years is on Cenotaph Road. Never bothered to find out the meaning of the word and here it is. I must now find out the tomb that we have around here.

Living in Madras, India the colonial hangover can be felt in street names. We have Mowbray's, Pycroft, Pantheon, Peter's, Greams, Cathedral, Mint, Greenways, Haddows, Sterling, Haddington, Chamiers, Santhome, Mount, and of course Cenotaph.

From: Donald Johnson (johnsondo cintas.com)
Subject: Re: Cenotaph

I first ran across this word in the lyrics from Pink Floyd's strongly anti-war album from 1983 called "The Final Cut". The song was called "Southampton Dock", describing soldiers returning from World War II and went in part: "Gathered at the cenotaph/all agreed with hand on heart/to sheath the sacrificial knives." The song went on to describe yet another generation of soldiers leaving for war, in this case the Falkland Islands. Seems there is always a reason to fight, no matter what promises have been made or how many have already been sacrificed.

From: James Friend (frienddjp comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--noctilucent

Atmospheric scientists have long known about the somewhat mysterious night-glowing clouds, commonly called noctilucent clouds. These beautiful clouds prevail mainly in high latitudes in summer in both northern and southern hemispheres and are visible in the nearly dark sky after sunset since they are at very high altitudes of around 50 miles where temperatures are very low. Here are some good pictures.

From: Anna Ingebretson (mail4me56547 yahoo.com)
Subject: Noctilucent

Perhaps "noctilucent" could also refer to the state of being suddenly awake and cognitive at night. (The lux derivative referring to clearness of thought; or more precisely, lucidus, an adjective derived from lux.) This hits me most often when I am doing intense studying and/or writing. After a period of relatively fruitless work, often my best thoughts and ideas come to me after I've retired for the night. Invariably I end up awake far past midnight, brainstorming and writing. Though it is a welcome relief from writer's block, it does seem a bit ill-timed! I'm sure I'm not the only one who experiences this.

From: Charles Wilson (user8612 qwest.net)
Subject: Example word: cenocephalic

This instantly brought to mind the birth defect known as anencephaly. The infant is born with no brain or only a small portion of the brain at the top of the spine. Typically death occurs within a few days. I have heard of one instance in which the child survived for two years.

Anencephaly is akin to spina bifida which I have. My life expectancy at birth was six months. I will be 68 in August. Some survivors are reaching their twenties now. I have been told I am probably the oldest survivor. I know of another in his forties.

From: Marsha Meckler (michaelw hawaii.edu)
Subject: Combining forms

Now I know what to call the kind of word I recently coined (or believe I did): antepunctual.

Definition: one who is so early to an event as to be rude.

Example: He rang the bell as I was getting out of the shower, 45 minutes ahead of the time stated on the invitation. How ante-punctual!"

In words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker. -Plutarch, biographer and philosopher (circa 46-120)

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