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AWADmail Issue 327

October 5, 2008

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

From: David Steinhoff (davidsteinhoff comcast.net)
Subject: -asters (Re: politicaster)

My favorite is the poetaster, someone whose poetic reach exceeds his grasp. I heard it at a dinner party where a guest read a brief trite poem she had written about springtime. A literate snob at the table feigned praise by congratulating her as a true poetaster. She was pleased with his compliment, and he was pleased with himself.

From: Gustavo Espino (gusadri yahoo.com)
Subject: -aster suffix

The suffix -aster reminds me of the Spanish words for stepmother and stepfather: madrastra and padrastro.

From: Dominique Mellinger (dominiquemellinger yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: Politicaster

In French we also have a very useful one: médicastre, to denote a bad doctor using a lot of empty incomprehensible words. Molière, who had lost a son, his best friend, and seen how powerless médicastres were to cure the Queen Mother hated them and made fun of them in his comedies : Le médecin malgré lui (The doctor despite himself) and Le malade imaginaire. Very funny and so profound.

From: Steve Benko (steve.benko gecapital.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--politicaster

What about a broadcaster as an inferior woman? Polyaster as an inferior fabric?

From: Carolanne Reynolds (gg wordsmith.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--politicaster

The term weather forecaster comes to mind...

From: Evelyn Falkenstein (fordham geology.ucdavis.edu)
Subject: politicaster

This usage reminds me of a Yiddish idiom which has the effect of delivering a put-down. Simply add -n as in paintner, a sloppy housepainter with delusions of grandeur, or a Sunday afternoon dauber who's always trying to sell a work of art to YOU. A neighbor of mine was a quiltner; my mother-in-law, a jewelner. Yiddish put-downs are an art form -- so don't call them Yiddish speakners.

From: Chris Papa (doxite verizon.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--quidnunc
Def: A nosy or gossipy person.

It's not often that I can invent a limerick which involves the use of a synonym for the daily word challenge.

She said with a very warm smile,
Which disguised a large part of her guile,
"I think it is bunk,
To call me QUIDNUNC,
Which describes a yenta gentile."

From: Rudy Rosenberg Sr (rrosenbergsr accuratesurgical.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--analphabet
Def: An illiterate; one who doesn't know the alphabet or the basics of something.

Although not his favorite curse, Analphabete (Fr.) and Analphabete Diplomed (Fr.) appeared in Captain Haddock's curses in Tintin, The Seven Crystal Balls and in Treasure of Red Rackham; at least in the French version.

Long may he live!

From: Jonathan Harms (harmsjb slu.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gormandizer
Def: A greedy person.

I first encountered this word in the "subtitle" of the (in)famous New York club, CBGB. Its full name was CBGB & OMFUG; the first part stood for "Country, Bluegrass, Blues" and the second for "(and) Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers."

Ironically, the club became famous not for country, bluegrass, or blues but for performances by punk rock and New Wave bands like the Ramones, Blondie, Television, et al. A stickler might say the names should've been reversed. But CBGB's certainly does sound catchier than OMFUG.

From: Eric Shackle (eshackle ozemail.com.au)
Subject: Wifty
Def: Eccentric, silly, scatterbrained.

I suppose Utah's famous Rain Man could be called wifty. He's certainly eccentric, but far from silly. An an autistic savant, he may have read more books than anyone else in the world. Twenty years after his moving story was told in the Oscar-winning film The Rain Man, Kim Peek is again being portrayed in an updated stage play with the same title at London's Apollo Theatre. For details, see the article.

A lexicographer's business is solely to collect, arrange, and define the words that usage presents to his hands. He has no right to proscribe words; he is to present them as they are. -Noah Webster, lexicographer (1758-1843)

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