A.Word.A.Day -- AWADmail Issue 31
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AWADmail Issue 31

April 30, 2001

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages

From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: AOL Mail Hole?

I continue to get messages from linguaphiles with aol.com addresses indicating they are receiving AWAD only intermittently. I called AOL, talked with several people, and tried explaining things to them, to no avail. What can I say? Perhaps all AOL users should call or email them. If enough of you raise your voices, maybe they will realize they need to do something and that they can't just block mail at random.

In the meantime, take comfort in the following anagram:

America Online = Re: Mail in Ocean

From: Heine Erdal (heine.erdalATus.nycomed-amersham.com)
Subject: Metathetic transformations

A note from the other day led me to think about funny and very symmetric twist between Norwegian and English.

"... metathesis, the same process that gave us dirt (from drit)"

In Norwegian drit has much the same usage as the English s-word. It is a word not to be used in a polite conversation. We also have the word skitt, pronounced 'shitt', and that word means the same as dirt. That word is a very mild swearword in Norway, similar to shoot.

When we moved to the US last year i kept using the 'skitt' word, but my daughter of eight told me very clearly that I should not use it, because it is a bad word.

So "shit" translates to Norwegian "drit", and Norwegian "skitt" to "dirt". The words have simply traded places in the two languages.

From: Mark Arend (mwarendATinternetwis.com)
Subject: Annie Oakley

In the late 'teens Annie Oakley maintained that she could have prevented World War I. Years earlier she'd been touring in Germany and at one of her shows the not-yet-Kaiser Wilhelm insisted she shoot a cigarette he was smoking. She felt that if she'd missed, just that once, the War might not have happened. Who knows? Perhaps she was right.

From: Julia L. Belian (jbelianATfaegre.com)
Subject: Young Turk ...

I find it painfully appropriate that you chose this week to offer the eponym "Young Turk."

Even better would have been to schedule it for April 24 (this past Tuesday), which is Armenian Genocide Memorial Day, since it was largely by the instigation of the Young Turks that 1.5 million Armenians were killed in 1915. See here for more information on this.

From: Donna Davis (abertdavATaol.com)
Subject: Literacy confusion!

One has but to teach a literacy class to realize the difficulty of our language! I was asked to teach a class for those who wanted to learn the idioms and common phrases of our language . The class members all knew basic English but wanted to better understand our language as we speak it. It was a marvelous experience but not without unintended humor at times! One day near the end of the year, I came to class with laryngitis and as the class began, I mentioned that I had 'a frog in my throat' (a term discussed earlier in the year). I could see by the startled look in the class members' eyes, that they had forgotten the term. So, to supposedly rectify the situation, I said "Oh, no, I am just a little hoarse today". Of course, you can imagine the looks I got after that. A real learning experience!

From: Mary Brown (bmsmbATmailer.rgu.ac.uk)
Subject: anachronistic words

You were talking about words having different meanings depending upon the period of history. I remember reading that one of the first descriptions of the newly built St. Paul's cathedral in London in the early years of the eighteenth century called the new building 'amusing, awful and artificial'. Sir Christopher Wren was, however, really pleased as he knew this meant in today's terms that it was amazing, awe inspiring and artistic.

From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: Bulletin board

The following three messages are excerpted from a discussion thread on AWAD's online bulletin board, Wordsmith Talk. This is a vibrant community of wordlovers who share their love of words and languages in free-form exchange. To join in this or any of the hundred other discussions, visit https://wordsmith.org/board.

Poster: harvardcore
Subject: who can give me an English name?


I come from China. I'm puzzled all along to have an English Name for myself. I really want one which is some cool and popular so that it doesn't sound very alien. My English learning is poor, so i came here to turn to you these learned Yankees for help.

My Chinese name is Wang Youtian. Wang is my family name, means King in Chinese while Youtian, my first name, can be interpreted as Someday ("You" is have, and "Tian" is day). I once thought of Someday King as my English name, but seems Someday is not an English name, though King could be a normal surname (such as Martin Luther King). So is there some English name which is not very alien while bears some same meaning as my Chinese name?

Sincerely yours,
Wang, Youtian from Beijing, China

Poster: wow
Subject: Re: who can give me an English name?

Welcome, Wang Youtian!
Heritage and Family built the USA, dear young person. English, Irish, Dutch, German, Spanish, Italian, Poles, Czechs, Indians, Filipino, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Pacific Islanders and a hundred other nationalities are the warp and woof of the fabric that is America.

Your family name is easy (Wang) for an American to spell, pronounce and remember and Youtian is a charming "first" name also easy to pronounce and spell. When asked what your name means it has wonderful connotations. Carry it proudly into the 21st Century.

Poster: of troy
Subject: Re: who can give me an English name?

English names in general, tend to be words or phrases from other languages. You have a wonder name -- your parents expressed fond hopes -- a "someday King". But if you are sure you want to have a more conventional "English name" I would second "Eugene/Eugenia" which is from the Greek. Eu is part of the root word for "good or pleasant' and is found in many English words and gene/ia is also from the Greek and refers to being born. So Eugene is "well born", which in English is an idiom for "nobles and royals" and that it "sounds" similar to your Chinese name is a bonus! But its your name -- you should think about what you want to express and see if you can find a name that works to create a meaning you like.

Linda is a common enough name in English -- it come from the Spanish -- "pretty." Millicent was for a while a common name among Chinese Americans in NY. Parents thought it sound like "a millions cents" or thousands of dollars! Or Maximilian if you are male. You might like Amos as a contraction of Almost) -- if not a Someday King, and Almost King! Or Alma if you are female.

Here is where people, / One frequently finds, / Lower their voices / And raise their minds. -Richard Armour, author, on libraries (1906-1989)

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