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AWADmail Issue 335Nov 30, 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)
The Art Of Translation:
Dictionary Helped Democracy:
From: Emily Rose (emilys7roses aol.com)
I've never heard this before. I'm gonna use it in an essay, argal, I will get an "A".
From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Aldous Huxley (and others) is obviously inspired by Shakespeare's Gravedigger in Hamlet, Act V Scene 1. This character is a pseudo-sophist who shows off his supposed knowledge (largely compounded of ignorance) by using distorted quasi-legal words and expressions in trying to win arguments with his assistant and later with the Prince himself.
Cf. his explanation of the difference between accidental and suicidal deaths. "If the man go this water and drown himself, it is, will he, nil he, he goes, mark you that; but if the water come to him and drown him, he drowns not himself; argal, he that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his own life."
From: Jane Mallison (jcmallison yahoo.com)
Here's betting I was one of many readers to think of the graveyard scene in Hamlet -- the only place I've previously encountered the word. The witty gravedigger tries to reason out whether, say, Ophelia killed herself in self-defense. "Argal, she drowned herself wittingly," he notes. He repeats the word twice more in his playful quasi-legal arguments.
From: Frank Brown (frank.brown travelport.com)
I thought "argal" was a pattern on men's hosiery, as in: "He was a preppy, ergo he was wearing argal socks."
Oh no, wait, that's "argyle". Never mind.
The sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language, and no single language is capable of expressing all forms and degrees of human comprehension. -Ezra Pound, poet (1885-1972)