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AWADmail Issue 328

October 12, 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

Origins of the Words Maverick and Gobbledygook:
The New York Times

The Man Who Reads Dictionaries:
BBC News

New Yorker

From: Max (maxte grics.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hypergelast
Def: One who laughs excessively.

Would an autohypergelast be one who laughs excessively at his own jokes?

From: J. McRee Elrod (mac slc.bc.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hypergelast

That said, let's not gloat over how many words we have. English's poverty shows in many places ...

The two which struck me most upon learning Korean were "hot" to mean both hot with pepper, and hot with fire; and the verb "to be" to mean both being something, and having a characteristic; e.g., I am a man. or, I am sleepy.

In both cases, the concepts expressed are quite different from each other.

From: Rick Neahring (rneahring mac.com)
Subject: Polygamy

Thank you for this week's category. On the subject of in-laws, my daughters asked me how one wife of a polygamist would refer to another of her husband's wives. The best answer I could come up with on the spot was "myself-in-law". There must be a word for it.

I have come across the term sisterwife.
-Anu Garg

From: Nat Mushkin (mikenovember earthlink.net)
Subject: Schadenfreude

We have an expression, if not a word, for "taking pleasure from another's misfortune."
Reality TV.

From: Sean Huxter (sean turbinegames.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--skeuomorph
Def: A design feature copied from a similar artifact in another material, even when not functionally necessary.

I was thinking about this very concept last night as I was in South Station in Boston. The train schedule board which used to click plastic letters into place to inform people which tracks which trains were on, and when they were arriving, has been replaced with a digital one.

However, the old one used to have about 5-10 seconds of repeated clicking as hundreds of plastic letters cards clicked into place, alerting people to the status change.

The new one makes a digital copy of the same sound, even the duration of the sound is the same. Except there IS no actual sound to the changing of the text, since it's now all LED Readout.

I was standing under it thinking ... yeah. That makes sense. Like when cars go electric and the engines don't make noise anymore, they're going to have to approximate an engine's noise digitally and play it through speakers in the grille of the car.

Skeuomorph... a very necessary word in this new age.

From: Jay Bingham (binghamjc byu.net)
Subject: skeuomorph

Last year at this time my wife and I were touring in Greece. In Athens at the Acropolis the guide told us that the original Greek temples were made of wood. When they started making them in stone they copied the features of the wooden temples including knobs or dowels that in the wooden temple were used to hold panels in place but in the stone temples served no purpose. Now I know that these were skeuomorphs.

From: Nancy Gillette (ngillette fs.fed.us)
Subject: Skeuomorphs

Cattle guards are often painted on rural roads (rather than being constructed of a ditch covered by metal bars). Cows perceive the skeuomorph as the real thing, and are afraid to cross. It's a cheap and very effective means to control cattle. One assumes that a few real cattle gates must be used for reinforcement.

From: Jan de Prosse (editorial mountainastrologer.com)
Subject: skeuomorph

I've had an idea for a skeuomorph for a couple of years now. Wine corks are increasingly being replaced by artificial corks (or even screw caps). I think there should be a microchip inside every artificial cork that would duplicate the sound of the cork popping out of the bottle. For some of us wine aficionados, that sound is very pleasing to the ear. To my mind, the hardest thing about giving up corks is that I would really miss that sound!

From: Joel Mabus (joel.mabus pobox.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hey rube
Def: 1. A fight between members of a circus and the general public. 2. A call to rally circus members in a fight.

Delighted to see "Hey Rube!" as the word for today.

Back in the 1980s I was a member of a fledgling musicians' guild called "Hey Rube!" that was headquartered in Minneapolis. It was started by the late folksinging legend, Utah Phillips, and a few others as an alternative to the musicians' union. The goal was to organize traveling folksingers (and I am one) for the purposes of obtaining insurance, fair wages, etc.

It was Utah Phillips's idea for the name, as he was always enamored of hobos, drifters, old-time carny workers, and other society misfits.

Hey Rube! ultimately failed as an organization, but did sow the seeds for a new "unlocal" local of the AFM which protects traveling musicians playing "one-nighters", of which I am now a member.

I still have my "Hey Rube!" membership card, though.

From: Joe Fisher (joe.fisher fns.usda.gov)
Subject: hey rube

Others may add this usage to "hey rube" -- I have read that it was used by U.S. aircraft carrier fighter pilots during WW II in the Pacific theater to signal other pilots that Japanese planes were attacking their home aircraft carrier. It meant they should break off their mission and return to fight off the attackers. I had always wondered the origin of this, so I thank you for the information.

From: Greg Showman (greg.showman gtri.gatech.edu)
Subject: hey rube

This word brought back some memories. Twenty years ago I spent a couple of weeks participating in a U.S. Navy air-to-air fleet exercise called "Hey Rube" and analyzing the results. Funny thing was no one really quite knew what "hey rube" meant. Now I finally know. Thanks!

From: Ruby Zefo (ruby.a.zefo intel.com)
Subject: Hey Rube

Everyone I know is laughing out loud at the Hey Rube. People have shouted that to me my whole life, because Rube is short for Ruby. It has taken on a whole new meaning now! Thanks for the laughs!

From: Stephen Wilder (sotan optonline.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--snood
Def:1. A fleshy appendage over the beak of a turkey. 2. A net for holding a woman's hair at the back of her head.

When working as a baker, I had a beard and was told by the inspector that I had to wear a snood over my beard, so I think that the meaning has been extended to include hair on the chin as well as on the head -- at least in that instance.

From: miranthis (Via Wordsmith Talk bulletin board)
Subject: Re: snood

Snoods are also worn by dogs to protect the ears, usually show dogs. I have basset hounds and their ears droop into the food and water quite a bit. The show folks (and some others) use snoods to go over the dogs' heads and cover the ears as that reduces grooming and ear related problems.

From: Julie Lipkin (julon comcast.net)
Subject: snood

This word got me wondering about the evolutionary purpose of a turkey snood. I should have known: It's all about sex.

From: Jeremy Lintz (jeremy thelaborshed.com)
Subject: Ah, Snood

This word took me back to my college years, in front of the computer firing grotesque faces from a cannon in an attempt to match three of the same color, thus sending others tumbling to freedom. This popular game (having nothing to do with hair nets or turkeys) is responsible for many wasted hours back then and a few minutes this morning as well. After checking my email this morning, I promptly went online, downloaded the game and discovered I still knew all the "sweet spots" to rescue the most Snoods. (I believe I still hold the Puzzle high score among my family.)

From: Blake Newton (btnewton swisher.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--serein
Def: Fine rain falling from an apparently cloudless sky, typically observed after sunset.

Growing up in the South, we referred to the phenomenon of rain falling from a sunny sky as evidence that "The Devil is Beating his Wife". Serein is, as we expect from the French, much more refined.

Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire. -Roland Barthes, literary critic and philosopher (1915-1980)

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