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AWADmail Issue 310

June 15, 2008

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

From: Nairi Hakhverdi (nairi76 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--jackanapes

This one reminded me of a dialogue in the movie musical "Love Me Tonight" (1932), between Count de Savignac, Viscount Gilbert, and Princess Jeanette. It goes something like this:

Count: (to Gilbert) You imp..., imp..., oh, what's the word?
Gilbert: Impecunious?
Count: No, no, no, no!
Jeanette: Impudent?
Count: No, no!
Gilbert: Impostor!
Count: No!
Jeanette: Impertinent.
Count: Ah, yes, that's it! You impertinent jack..., erm..
Gilbert: Jackal.
Count: No, no, no.
Jeanette: Jackass!
Count: No, no.
Gilbert: (to Jeanette) I wish you'd got to bed!
Count: Jackanapes!
Gilbert: Ah!
Count: You impertinent jackanapes! Liar. Cheat.
Gilbert: You'll be insulting me in a minute.
Count: Nitwit. Numbskull. Nincompoop.

From: Michael K Martin (mmarti5 clemson.edu)
Subject: Insult Words

My favorite insult word is the Italian maleducato (rude, ill-mannered). I chuckle to even try to imagine a word made of the roots of "bad education" being an insult thrown around US school yards, etc.

From: Shannon (sohara28 gmail.com)
Subject: Gundygut vs. Greedy Guts

I had never heard today's word (gundygut) but was struck by its similarity to "Greedy Guts", particularly in the quotation used.

I have often heard people say "I'm not a Greedy Guts ...", usually followed by "but". I had always assumed that simple alliteration had caused the development of the term, but I now wonder if "Greedy Guts" was some sort of devolution of gundygut.

From: Shripriya Mahesh (shripriya mac.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gundygut

Well, in Tamil (South Indian language), Gundu (Guhn-doo) means fat or fatty. He's a guhn-doo = he's a fatty.

From: Vivienne Bezuidenhout (vivienne advantagemagazine.co.za)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--praetorian

I loved this explanation particularly for its irony. As the executive capital of South Africa, Pretoria is the centre of our arguably corrupt government. This definition might make our officials think twice about boasting to be a Pretorian. :)

From: Brooke SL (russia_moore yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--flibbertigibbet

Surely I'm not the only person who, upon seeing this word, thinks of The Sound of Music? It's used to describe the main character, Maria, by her fellow nuns before she's sent to care for the Von Trapp family. When I was younger I would watch the film every summer.

Last semester, when asked repeatedly why I'd taken German rather than the locally popular (and "more practical") Spanish once I'd gone to college, I at first said that I just had an interest in the language. I surprised and amused myself to discover, upon reflection, that this movie was the source of my interest! Somewhere along the lines I realized it was set in a real time in a real place, and since then I've developed a great love of modern history and the German Language in all its dialects.

Vielen Dank!

From: Kimberly McDaniel (lynxlady80 comcast.net)
Subject: Flibbertijibbet!

Okay, put your habit on and all together now!

"How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!"

Thanks to Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, III to introducing this lovely word to millions!! Kimberly

From: Donny Prosise (donny.prosise leggett.com)
Subject: insults

Good old Mark Twain. My favorite quotation of his can be seen in my office: "In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied often to prayer."

Language, n. The music with which we charm the serpents guarding another's treasure. -Ambrose Bierce, writer (1842-1914) [The Devil's Dictionary, 1906]

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