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AWADmail Issue 305

May 4, 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

Lesbos Islanders Dispute Gay Name:
BBC News

Yours truly has started a new column at MSN Encarta. Here's the first one:
Sherbet With No R-tificial Ingredients:

From: Jessica Franken (jcf umn.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--chimera

The public radio show Radiolab recently did a segment on a chimera mother, who -- in a way, and according to her DNA -- is her own twin.

From: Katie Clark (keclark okstate.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--chimera

It is interesting you featured this word this week. I often watch the marathons of reruns of CSI [Crime Scene Investigation] on Spike TV. One of the episodes this week featured a man with two sets of DNA, a chimera.

From: Ann Turnock (annt support.ucla.edu)
Subject: Chimera

My cousin developed a particularly severe kind of lymphoma, with a very poor prognosis. The only treatment that offered hope was a stem cell transplant, and one of his sisters was a perfect match. His own immune system had to be obliterated before the transplant. Four years later he is a healthy chimera and his DNA tests female! His wife says life with a chimera is great.

From: Victoria Loeb Ziss (loebv lmsd.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--argus

Young readers will also recognize that Argus Filch is the overly watchful caretaker of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter books. (This is just one among many classical references in the series.)

From: Bill Ward (bill wards.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--argus

The newspaper in Fremont, CA is called the Argus.

From: Alexa Fleckenstein (coldwatermd yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--argus

Argusaugen (literally, Argus's eyes) is a term frequently used in German much as eagle-eyed is here.

From: Lee Laney (llaney nvcf.org)
Subject: Argus

This background of "argus" explains its use in naming the Argus 35mm camera. This was the first inexpensive ($12.50) 35mm camera and it put a camera into the hands of millions of Americans and allowed them to enter this new realm of photography in the 1930s. It also weakens my friend's claim that the camera name was coined in part to acknowledge the role of his uncle "Gus" in the development of this camera!

From: Matt Nash (mattn co.island.wa.us)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--argus (also Odysseus's hound)

This name was also used by Homer, given to Odysseus's faithful hound. The hero, upon returning home after his twenty-year journey, was unrecognized by all but old Argus, who heard Odysseus's voice but, too old and weak to crawl to him, wagged his tail, flattened his ears, and then was "seized by the dark hand of death", content in knowing finally that his master had returned. I liked the story so much I so named my dog. My Argus was a friendly, gentle, and faithful member of our family for many years, but his "dark hand of death" belonged to a neighborhood scoundrel and was holding a pistol. In a peculiar coincidence, I was just thinking of my old pal Argus early this morning, though it's been over eight years now.

From: Pedro Benitez (pedro.benitez skanska.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--centaur

Mexican Revolutionary icon Pancho Villa (1878-1923) was also known by the nickname El Centauro del Norte (The Centaur of the North) because of his horse riding expertise and for his use of an elite cavalry unit called Los Dorados (The Golden Ones). Here is a classic photo of him riding his horse.

From: Art Haykin (theart bendbroadband.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--harpy

As a young grammar school student, all the class had to memorize a favorite poem. I had many, but I picked Old Ironsides which was a protest against the Navy's intention to dismantle or scuttle her. Oliver Wendel Holmes composed it, and it referred to Harpies. Many historians believe this poem was instrumental in her being restored and being turned into a national treasure.

From: Anna Ingebretson (mail4me56547 yahoo.com)
Subject: Mythical creatures

One hasn't even begun to descend into the realms of the imaginary until he's read the works of writers like Dr. Seuss, Lewis Carroll, or Shel Silverstein. Silverstein is my personal favorite, who wrote hundreds of light, humorous poems for children. Included in his works are wildly descriptive poems about creatures or monsters such as the "Terrible Feezus", the "Glurpy Slurpy Skakagrall", the "Gheli", the "One-Legged Zantz", and many others. I like the "Slithergadee" most:

The Slithergadee has crawled out of the sea.
He may catch all the others, but he won't catch me.
No you won't catch me, old Slithergadee,
You may catch all the others, but you wo--

The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order. -Jean Cocteau, writer, artist, and filmmaker (1889-1963)

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