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AWADmail Issue 316

July 19, 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

A Language Without Numbers:

Making Yourself Understood in Beijing (and around the world)
The Wall Street Journal

A Book With 90,000 Authors:
The New York Times

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Errata

The following entries have been amended:

royal we: As many alert readers have pointed out the usage example for this term didn't work well. We have replaced it with a new usage example.

king's ransom: The author of the Thought for Today included with this term was Gary Hector, not Alvin Toffler. Thanks to diligent reader Charles Sharp (charles.sharp acm.org) for tracking down the source of this quotation.

queen regnant: The term is different from queen regent. The latter is a queen ruling during the youth, disability, or absence of a monarch.

From: Judith Landau (judith.landau mirotechnologies.com)
Subject: Royalty

As a British expat with affection for the British Royal Family, I was disappointed in your strong expression on the topic today. I can understand your point, and generally agree with your views on the world. However, my nostalgia for (most) things English, and feelings of protectiveness towards Queen Elizabeth and family is prevailing today. On the whole, I'd have thought discussion about words may not need potentially divisive "political" content.

From: Annette Heuser (annheu mail.dk)
Subject: royalty

Thank you for your sensible words on royalty. I live in Denmark, an otherwise sensible country, where we have a Queen, a crown prince, lesser princes, princesses and so on. I don't want to pay taxes for their luxurious castles, dinners, designer clothes etc. And the system is unfair on them, too -- they may have great privileges, but can't get away from the photographers. The gossip magazines love them, of course.

From: Carolanne Reynolds (gg at wordsmith.org)
Subject: royalty

It may not come as a surprise that AWAD's Canadian adviser is a monarchist happily living in a constitutional monarchy (but has lived in republics as well, some of which are not democracies) which, last time she looked, is also a democracy. Countries have a range of personalities, characters, and identities -- totally fascinating.

Allow me however, to express my gratitude that my country's head of state is a respected symbol, not a politician (unpredictable stature). It is important to note a monarch enables a non-violent change of government. A monarch can provide continuity (Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953) whereas political leaders are transitory. Indeed there are places where monarchies have been brought back. Spain is an example. In both Spain and Australia, issues have been resolved by the Crown with the approval of the people. In Bhutan a monarchy was established to promote unity. In fact it was the king who introduced parliamentary democracy (first elections December 2007 and March 2008), the population has insisted on keeping the constitutional monarchy. In today's world, government systems are evolving and most monarchies and governments are there at the pleasure of the people.

From my experience and observation of democracy, I'm not sure it will last but have no idea what will come next. As soon as we have the new word, however, it's certain to be in AWAD!

From: Judy Tinelli (judytinelli hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--magna carta
Def: A document or a law recognizing basic rights and privileges.

I spent a career in human resources, early on focusing on recruiting. That required reading a lot of resumes. My favorite all-time resume gaffe was that of a candidate who maintained he graduated Magna Carta Laude. Needless to say, he didn't get the job.

From: Chris Weaver (chrweave gmail.com)
Subject: Magna Carta and Monarchies

I must agree with Maude from the movie Harold and Maude. There is something magical about the notion of a king -- without its icky practical implications. The following is quoted from IMDB which presumably accurately quotes the movie:

Harold: What were you fighting for?
Maude: Oh, big issues. Liberty. Rights. Justice. Kings died, kingdoms fell. I don't regret the kingdoms - what sense in borders and nations and patriotism? But I miss the kings.

From: George Cowgill (cowgill asu.edu)
Subject: Royalty

The only species of monarchs I support is the monarch butterfly.

Don't forget emperor penguins.

From: Marjo van Patten (marjovp sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Magna Carta

This term instantly transported me back to Salisbury Cathedral where I saw an original/fair copy of the Magna Carta. My grandmother traced our family back to one of the few signers who have currently living descendants: Aubrey de Vere, First Earl of Oxford, Count of Ghisnes (c.1130-1194).

From: Greg Harm (bisonwerks gmail.com)
Subject: Magna Carta

I am a paralegal and studied the history of law in grad school. I think it bears expanding on the Magna Carta to discuss the term of habeas corpus, which was the chief principle that came out of the Magna Carta.

It is the cornerstone of civil liberties. I was taught the translation was Have ye the body?

Its significance is that it is the basis of English Common Law, whereby, it allows a person to know the charges against him or her, and challenges the state to either produce evidence of a crime, to charge a prisoner with a crime, or to set them free.

This has been, as you point out, the law of England, and subsequently habeas corpus was adopted by colonial powers and made part of American Common Law.

Here is a little more about it, and a stone mural commemorating the Magna Carta on the Nebraska State Capitol.

From: Valerie Selby (vie48 aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--royal we
Def: The first-person plural pronoun used by a king or queen to refer to himself or herself.

Mark Twain didn't consider pregnant women who might be justified in using the first person plural.

From: Michelle Miller (millermk chartermi.net)
Subject: royal we

Whenever I refer to the "royal we", I do it like this: the "royal, corporate, editorial, medical we".

From: Julie Mida (midaj umich.edu)
Subject: royal we and George Carlin

How coincidental that yesterday morning I read the word of the day "royal we", and yesterday evening while reading George Carlin's book "Brain Droppings" (in honor of his recent passing) I came across it. While ranting about the improper and ignorant uses of language, under a section entitled "Beware Also of the Pretentious and Arrogant Speaker", Carlin says, "I think people like this are mentally ill. And you can include those very special people who use the royal 'we'." Anyone interested in language and words who has a good sense of humor will enjoy Carlin's comedy immensely!

From: Elizabeth Ohlson (ohlson aol.com)
Subject: royal we

When my irascible father was in a nursing home toward the end of his life, he had some strengths -- especially his sense of humor. When the nurse came into his room she asked: "Mr. Anderson, are we ready for our shower?" He said: "I'm ready if you're ready."

From: Lezlie Bain (lezlie.bain ontario.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--morganatic
Def: Of or relating to a marriage between two people of different social ranks.

The most famous morganatic marriage that never-was is the marriage between King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom and Wallis Simpson. As sovereign, Edward was also the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, which opposed remarriage after divorce. The British parliament insisted that his subjects would never accept the twice-divorced Mrs. Simpson as Queen.

Edward then proposed a morganatic marriage, in which Edward would remain King but Wallis would not become Queen, and any children they might have would not inherit the throne. Since this impacted the Law of Succession, the British parliament, as well as other Dominion governments, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, all had to approve this.

Of course, Edward's proposal was soundly rejected. Edward chose instead to abdicate his throne, as "I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love."

From: Eric Shackle (eshackle ozemail.com.au)
Subject: Words related to royalty

"Queen of the Internet" would be a right royal word to describe Olive Riley, the great-great-grandmother, world's oldest blogger, who died last week at the age of 108. Her colorful memories have inspired countless younger bloggers to record the stories of their own parents and grandparents as a valuable addition to oral history. See R.I.P. Olive, Ave Maria!.

Language is a form of human reason, which has its internal logic of which man knows nothing. -Claude Levi-Strauss, anthropologist (b. 1908)

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