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AWADmail Issue 306

May 11, 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

Portugal Pays Lip Service to Brazil's Supremacy:

Lexicographical Longing:
The New York Times

Roget's Thesaurus with Beatles:

From: Michael Bishop (stella.errante gmail.com)
Subject: Musical Lilliputians

While working collaboratively with some friends on a crossword puzzle I was perplexed with one clue, just the word Lilliputians. "The only lilliputians I know are the Beatles." Once they all stopped laughing they explained to me the error of my ways.

Never again have I confused lilliputians and Liverpudlians.

From: Meredith Regal (meredk windows.microsoft.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lilliputian

One of my favorite children's books is T.H. White's "Mistress Mashem's Repose", unfortunately now out of print, which featured the descendants of the Lilliputians. Thank you for reminding me of it.

From: Robert McColley (rmccolle uiuc.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Simon Legree

"After Simon Legree, a brutal slave dealer in the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin."

The term in common use was and remains slave trader, and there are several in Mrs. Stowe's novel. But Legree was not one of them, he was a cotton planter. A twisted, angry, brutal man, he abused his slaves; traders had an interest in keeping their "merchandise" as healthy as possible -- under the circumstances.

From: David Potterveld (potterveld phy.anl.gov)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--babbitt

Babbitt is also the name of a metal alloy used in bearings. See Babbitt metal. That's the first usage I encountered for this word, long ago when I was repairing my first car.

From: Brad Orfall (brad_orfall yahoo.com)
Subject: Babbitts selling babbitts

I suppose the average middle-class employee of a manufacturer of babbitt metal would be a "Babbitt babbitt manufacturer"?

From: Josh Beach (josh.beach philips.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--babbitt

What about babbitt metal and babbitt bearings? They predate Sinclair Lewis's novel by a bit, and could lead to another definition: slippery characters who are easily damaged. Unless, of course, technical language has no bearing on the subject.

Modern English is the Wal-Mart of languages: convenient, huge, hard to avoid, superficially friendly, and devouring all rivals in its eagerness to expand. -Mark Abley, journalist (b. 1955)

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