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AWADmail Issue 34

Jun 17, 2001

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

From: Dave Kinder (dkinderATservomex.com)
Subject: friable - potato chips?

Your use of potato chips as an example of 'friable' brings a smile to my lips. Here in the UK, if your chips crumble then they are somewhat over-cooked. Chips in 'English' English are more akin to fat French fries. What you call chips, we call crisps.

As well as different meanings, I often come up against problems in spelling for US vs. rest of world, i.e. analyser vs. analyzer. Working for a company that makes Gas Analys(z)ers this causes me a lot of problems getting good listings in search engines.

From: Victor Lund (vlundATmahoney-law.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--potatory

The word potatory, in its Latin dative form, appears in a medieval poem about a dedicated drinker and his preferred mode of death, i.e., drinking himself to oblivion. The verse, familiar to many who have studied Latin, reads as follows:

Meum est propositum
In taberna mori,
Ut sint vina proxima
Morientis ori.
Tunc cantabunt laetius
Angelorum chori:
`Sit deus propitius
Huic potatori!'

    This fragment is taken from the thirteenth-century manuscript Carmina Burana, attributed to goliards, a class of wandering scholar-poets. For those of us for whom Latin is Greek, here is the translation. -Anu

From: Aiden Dolan (aiden.m.dolanATaib.ie)
Subject: Re: Potatory

Here in Ireland we have a rather potent, not to mention illegal, tipple known as "poitin", pronounced put-sheen. This is brewed from potato skin in many rural areas, particularly in the North-West of the country, and can be up to 75%!

From: Joan Waltermire (joan.waltermireATvalley.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sextet

"Sextet" reminded me of a cartoon from a long-ago Playboy mag in which two young women of apparent physical charms, but obviously not subscribers to Word A Day, are discussing the date one of them had the night before. The caption is, "Turns out a sexagenarian is a guy in his sixties."

From: Marcus Hand (mhandAThome.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sextet

Another one is a quote from the movie, "The Thin Man," where the young son says, "There's [a... psychological angle] that the police have overlooked and I think it settles the whole question. You see, my father was a sexagenarian."
To which the newspaper reporter replies, "He was?"
"Yes, he admitted it."
"Sexagenarian ,eh? Yes, yes... but we can't put that in the paper!"
"Why not?"
"Oh, you know how they are. Sex?"
"Well, just say he was sixty years old."
"Is that what that means?"

From: Desiree Nordlund (desiree.nordlundATliber.se)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--sextet

At first I did not understand what was so special about the word. Then I realised that I had a language mumbo jumbo in my head.

In Swedish the figure six and sex has the same word, sex (from Latin I learned today). That is why I first could not understand why sextet was so special. We have the word sextet in the same meaning as in English. The Six/sex-"misunderstanding" is mostly nothing more than a childish joke here. Then I realized that it should have been "sixtet" in English, and that sex means just sex in English and is no figure 6 at all. Then I could not help smiling.

From: Margaret Schubert (mschubertATtrimeris.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--discommode

As any female who camps, hikes, bikes or canoes can assure you, to be dis-commoded is definitely an inconvenience!

From: Tom Church (borchardtATkvvi.net)
Subject: misunderstood words

Reading this week's theme, one word in particular comes to mind: sexton. I'll let you take it from there.

From: Lois A. Manning (w2774518ATjuno.com)
Subject: newspaper names

How could you possibly have missed the Canton Repository, the newspaper of multiple mistakes. My favorite:

A Correction Notice:
We apologize for last night's error in stating that Mr. Smith was a defective on our police force; actually, he's a detective on our police farce.

From: Dion Lerman (dionlermanATearthlink.net)
Subject: Re: newspaper names

When the Chicago Sun and the Chicago Times were merging they sponsored a contest for a new name for the combined paper. (Their chief rival was -- and is -- the notoriously conservative Tribune). One submission was for "The Truth" - newsboys could then ask customers if they wanted "The Tribune or the Truth?" I don't know why they bothered with the contest. The merged paper is, of course, the "Chicago Sun-Times." Some people have no imagination or sense of humor.

From: Lauren Roberts (jjlrobertsATaol.com)
Subject: newspaper names

I enjoyed the week of newspaper names and wanted to add one to your list. My hometown newspaper is called the Waterford Spinal Column, how it got that name I don't know but I've never seen another "spinal column" anywhere, are there more out there? just curious.

From: Barry Downs (bdbATisat.co.za)
Subject: Word Lover = World Over

Did you spot that Wordlover is an anagram of World-over?

    This is certainly an apt anagram--at the last count, we have linguaphiles spread in 201 countries. To find more anagrams, visit the Internet Anagram Server. -Anu Garg

From: Neal Holter (nsholterATpsu.edu)
Subject: Gift

A friend signed me up as a gift. My initial reaction: great, more junk in my inbox. But now at least there is something that I like to read in my inbox.

    Thanks! For those unaware, here is the place for sending a gift subscription. -Anu Garg

Words are loaded pistols. -Jean-Paul Sartre, writer and philosopher (1905-1980)

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