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AWADmail Issue 326

September 28, 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

Collins, We're Lost For Words: Let's Call Your Bluff:
The Guardian

What My Copy Editor Taught Me:
The New York Times

From: Jeff Marsden (jmarsden idirect.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--archipelago
Def: A large group of islands.

Our local busy-body's nickname was "Archipelago Stone" -- because of her long neck, jutting out to see.

From: Shannon O'Hara (sohara hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--monadnock
Def: An isolated hill or mountain that, having resisted erosion, rises above a plain.

It's amazing when you realize that something ordinary has deep roots. There is a beautiful old skyscraper in Chicago called the Monadnock Building. It was formerly the world's largest office building. It fell into disrepair and was almost torn down before being refurbished. I always assumed that Monadnock was the name of the firm that built or inhabited the original building. Now, knowing the definition of "monadnock", I think differently. Here's a picture of the building, rising from the plains of Chicago.

From: Julie (jjaycox hotmail.com)
Subject: Monadnock

In downtown San Francisco on Market Street there's a very large building called The (Historic) Monadnock.

from Karen L. Lew (karenllew earthlink.net)
subject feedback: monadnock

In Alaska's tundra, on the north slope where the land is permanently frozen beneath the surface, this formation is called a "pingo". It's the only uprising in an otherwise vast flatness. However, a pingo, unlike a monadnock, is not left over after erosion; it's a low hill or mound forced up by hydrostatic pressure in an area underlain by permafrost.

From: Larry Caldwell (lcaldwell cityofroseburg.org)
Subject: Monadknock

I was fascinated by monadnock. In Gaelic, a knock (cnoc) is a hill, and a mona is a bog. Monadnock would translate as "bog hill". I have often wondered if there was more communication across the North Atlantic than we know.

From: Jim Scarborough (9jimes hiwaay.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--shoal
Def: 1. A shallow area in a body of water. 2. A sandbank or sandbar in the bed of a body of water, constituting a navigation hazard.

This reminds me of a town near where I grew up: Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Legend has it that the people incorporating the town sent "Mussel Shoals" to the capital Montgomery as the name of the place, but the people there were certain that the folks up north had no idea how to spell "muscle", and so made a bit of nonsense out of the name. There are other stories as to how the name came about, but that's the most amusing one.

From: Stuart Showalter (sshowalter cfl.rr.com)
Subject: Shoal

Seeing your entry on this word today reminded me that before the Uniform Code of Military Justice was enacted in the late 1960s, the U.S. Navy's criminal code was known as "Rocks and Shoals" -- i.e., things to be avoided in life, just like those hazards of shallow water are to be avoided when piloting a boat.

From: David Smith (dsmith psl.nmsu.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--isthmus
Def: A narrow strip of land with water on each side, joining two larger land masses.

As Captain Moroni must have said as he led his fleeing army north toward Cumorah to escape the evil Lamanite horde: "Isthmus be the narrow neck of land!"
(It's a Mormon insider joke).

From: Diana Winter (diana thewinternet.com)
Subject: Madison, Wisconsin

The residents of my beautiful town, Madison Wisconsin, are very familiar with this word, as the downtown, including the Wisconsin State Capitol Building, sits on an isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona. There is also a weekly newspaper that goes by the name The Isthmus. I wish I had a dollar for every time my husband Bryan said "Isthmus be my lucky day!" It's a good thing he's so lovable!

From: Dean Urban (durbanjoverlandstorage.com)
Subject: Falls of Clyde (Re: AWADmail Issue 325)

I read Jason Ubay's comment in the AWADmail Issue 325 about how they are going to sink the Falls of Clyde because they cannot afford to fix her. It is typical that Congress can waste billions on pork-barrel projects but we cannot come up with a few hundred thousand to stabilize this historic ship so it can be saved.

Since you used its picture in your daily email, perhaps you can use the same bully pulpit to let the world know that a rescue effort is underway. People can go to savethefallsofclyde.com and donate to The Caledonian Society of Hawaii to buy a barge to secure the ship until funds can be raised to fix her.

As far as I'm concerned, 'whom' is a word that was invented to make everyone sound like a butler. -Calvin Trillin, writer (b. 1935)

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