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AWADmail Issue 333

Nov 16, 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

The Power of Speech:
The Guardian

Oxford Word of the Year 2008: Hypermiling
Oxford University Press

From: Karen Herwig (oiuser msn.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--advertorial
Def: A newspaper or magazine ad resembling editorial content in style and layout.

This word reminded me of a similar coined reversal used to denote the very newspaper delivered to my door each morning. Its slogan used to be "The newspaper all Iowa depends on" but that was during a time before corporate ownership reduced a once Pulitzer Prize-winning journalistic gem to what we now refer to as 'edvertising'. There is a smaller newsprint size, outsized photographs, full-page ads, less actual reporting, and more AP content over fewer column inches... very sad.

From: Alan Wheals (bssaew bath.ac.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cultivar
Def: A variety of plant that has been produced by selective breeding.

As well as cultivar there is wide usage of the similar term pathovar -- a pathogenic variety. This would include, for example, naturally occurring strains of bacteria and fungi causing disease in plants and animals.

From: Martha Pavlick (marthawrites gmail.com)
Subject: cultivar

The day "cultivar" was the blended word of the day, we were visiting Longwood Gardens outside Philadelphia to see the annual chrysanthemum display in its mammoth conservatory. In one greenhouse the varieties were set out in individual pots beside each sign. "Cultivar" was part of several descriptions, and when I exclaimed, "Oh, look! the word of the day!" several people turned and gaped at me.

From: Carsten Kruse (c-kruse t-online.de)
subject Re: A.Word.A.Day--exurb
Def: A residential area outside a city and beyond its suburbs, typically inhabited by well-to-do families.

The corresponding term in German is Speckgürtel. It's a composite of Speck (bacon) and Gürtel (zone) playing with the fact that the well-to-do families can afford expensive food. Since Speckgürtel was coined in those days when everybody wanted to eat 'expensive' meat (the more fat the better) and almost no one talked about cholesterol levels, this term should be upgraded to Mercedesgürtel or something else, but people tend to stick to terms they have known for a long time. Apart from this, its slightly pejorative(*) connotation makes it timelessly fashionable.

(*) "Speck" also relates to what people carry with them around their hips and bellies.

BTW, it's not a blend since German's ability to compound nouns is unbeatable and thus, most blends we use are English ones. For example: früsen [FRühstück + MittagesSEN] - which would "match" brunch - sounds way too odd :-)

From: Chips Mackinolty (manbet174 yahoo.com.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--spokesmodel
Def: A model who acts as a spokesperson for a product or organization.

Much more fun -- and more derisory perhaps -- is "spokesthing", a not uncommon Australianism. Presumably an extension of the politically correct "spokesperson", the notion of spin doctors and the like being inanimate objects is much more fun.

From: Simon Price (feskas aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--rollick
Def: To move or act in a playful, carefree manner.

In England a 'rollicking' often means a loud, angry telling off. People talk of getting a 'good rollicking' when in trouble.

From: Dawn Balistreri (dawnbali sbcglobal.net)
Subject: portmanteau

The discussion of portmanteau reminded me of my days working for the National Park Service. Keeping track of the visitors' "stupid questions" was a favorite pastime. Two of my favorite examples came from visitors to Carlsbad Caverns: "Is the whole cave underground?" and "How much of the cave is undiscovered?" As one of my colleagues said, "People on vacation seem to leave their brains at home." For that reason, park visitors were sometimes referred to as "tourons", a combination of "tourist" and "morons".

From: Miriam (miriaml savion.cc.huji.ac.il)
Subject: blended words

My favorite blended word is "huggle". When my kids were little, I always asked them if they wanted a "huggle" -- a combination of a hug and a cuddle.

From: Susan L. West (westsl aol.com)
Subject: Blending words

"Advertorial" elicited my coined word "gregacious" or "gregaciousness", stemming from "gregarious" and "gracious". A gregacious person exhibits warmth and politeness (gracious) in a sociable/enjoyable situation (gregarious). For example, my mother displayed gregaciousness at the reception honoring her husband.

From: James Welch (gneeby gmail.com)
Subject: Portmanteau

"Bookazine" is another example of a portmanteau. A bookazine is in the format of a monthly magazine but focused on a single topic and is expected to have a shelf life of six months. Forbes 2009 Retirement Guide is an example of a bookazine.

From: Betsy Caney (bcaney verizon.net)
Subject: portmanteau words

My sister has a knack for creating portemanteau words. She's always been told it's dyslexia. We call it creative, and always enjoy it when a new one pops out. I adopted "huscular" into my own lexicon years ago!

From: Ellen Amy Cohen (ellencohen louisglick.com)
Subject: Portmanteaus

One of the portmanteaus my friends and I have seen recently, with the likes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Britney Spears in the tabloids, is celebutante! There's also "celebutard".

From: Christoph Grein (christoph.grein eurocopter.com)
Subject: portmanteau

I spent my last holidays in Alaska. One morning, I felt "drizzy", and saying so earned a nice laugh from our local guide. "You mean drowsy." I'd mixed it up with "dizzy", and as a nice coincidence, it was drizzling rain that day. And there were Grizzly tracks all around on the river bank.

From: Rhett Moeller (rhett.moeller gmail.com)
Subject: Portmanteau Words

I am enjoying this week's theme. Unfortunately, businesses have latched onto the portmanteau as a kind of gimmicky device, and often with cringeworthy results. Some company and product names, such as Amerigas, Fruitsations, and Tastetations, are especially egregious offenders. But I also applaud those that actually work well, like Aristocraft.

Several years ago I was trying to come up with a clever portmanteau-like word that would describe attempts of the clumsier sort, and finally settled upon one that seems to fill the bill: awkword.

From: Sally Stretch (sestretch mweb.co.za)
Subject: Portmanteau words

In South Africa a new political party is emerging due to a split in the ruling African National Congress. The surnames of the two senior members who were the first to break away are Shilowa and Lekota. Although the movement is only a couple of months old the media have already dubbed it the Shikota movement and it has over 50,000 entries on Google.

From: Janet Popish (jcwpopish yahoo.com)
Subject: word blends

Our family has come up with some blends of our own that we use frequently. Some of my favorites are "catasterous", describing not just a disaster, but a disaster of catastrophic proportions; "decrimental", something both ornamental and decorative, or a style of interior decorating that makes one crazy; and "stupitude", which is stupid with an attitude.

From: Yvonne Sprauel (ysprauel free.fr)
Subject: this week's theme

What a nice way to have fun with words. I love this week's theme. In French we have such a thing called "mots-valises", basically suitcase-words, and the fun is building up a definition for the new concept. Example: un hebdomadaire is a weekly magazine; un dromadaire is a dromedary. And un hebdromadaire could be a dromedary delivering a weekly magazine. And now, let's switch to a bit of bilingualism: the adjective drôle means funny, comic. So what about un hebdrolmadaire? A dromedary delivering some weekly...comics? Be poets, and enjoy!

From: Eric Shackle (eshackle ozemail.com.au)
Subject: Portmanteau words

Could peregrine be called a portmanteau word? It's a combination of the Latin peregrinus (foreign) + the suffix -ine (of or pertaining to). Peregrine falcons are the world's fastest animals, reaching speeds of up to 200mph (322km/h). They often build nests on high buildings in the US, UK, and many other countries. Millions of online birdlovers spy on them through webcams. For details, see OhmyNews.

The English language is rather like a monster accordion, stretchable at the whim of the editor, compressible ad lib. -Robert Burchfield, lexicographer (1923-2004)

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