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AWADmail Issue 354

Apr 12, 2009

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

From: Lyle Gunderson (lyle mac.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ciceronian
Def: 1. Of or relating to Cicero. 2. Marked by ornate language.

Possibly the most widely-read bit of Cicero's writing is the "Lorem ipsum..." text used to simulate actual text content when mocking up a page layout. It is actually a chunk of text hacked out of his "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" ("The Extremes of Good and Evil"), from 45 BCE. More at lipsum.com.

From: Paul Rescino (prescino pcaplus.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ciceronian

I have another meaning for this word. I grew up in Cicero, Illinois. The residents of The town of Cicero are also Ciceronians.

From: Terry Moran (t.moran new.oxon.org)
Subject: maudlin / Magdalene
Def: 1. Overly sentimental. 2. Foolishly sentimental because of drunkenness.

Magdalene was immortalised, if that's the right word, in the infamous Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, where girls who had fallen from grace -- or, in some cases, who their fathers thought might be ABOUT to fall from grace -- were incarcerated and used as slave labour. Unbelievably, the last one wasn't closed down until 1996.

From: Harry Grainger (the.harry gmail.com)
Subject: Maudlin

Nothing maudlin about the movie The Magdalene Sisters. A terrible indictment of the treatment of girls who were "unresponsible" for their predicament. And yet these institutions were still in place until the last one closed in Ireland in September 1996. An ex-inmate described the movie as nowhere near as horrific as the real thing. I'm sorry but, having heard that, I have no option but to describe it as artery-openingly distressing.

From: Ian Bratt (ian.bratt implats.co.za)
Subject: maudlin

I was very interested to learn the origin of this word which I had not connected with Mary Magdalene before. I attended Cambrige University where there is a Magdalene College (Magdalen College is part of "the other place" (Oxford) as we Cantabrigians refer to it). Both colleges are pronounced "Mawdlin" which I always found strange.

From: Ed Dunne (egdunne gmail.com)
Subject: maudlin

Since Magdalen comes from magdala, which is Aramaic for "tower", Magdalen Tower in Oxford is "Tower Tower".

From: David Franklin Farkas (david farkas.com)
Subject: Mary Magdalene

The story of Mary Magdalene being a prostitute was a smear campaign born of the idea that only men can be priests because Jesus was male. And, any woman who was unmarried and free was considered a threat.

Other writing and traditions say she was the spiritual partner of Jesus, and perhaps his wife.

Jesus was a powerful shaman of the Divine Feminine. All his teachings are about feminine values... love, forgiveness, kindness, service to others.

Shamanic experience shows that to channel that energy in that profound way he would have needed an equally powerful female shaman to work with him.

Any religious reference is controversial. This happens to be one, for me, in particular.

From: Truman Bullard (truman.bullard gmail.com)
Subject: Mary Magdalene

There is no biblical evidence that Mary Magdalene had anything to do with prostitution. The conflation of her with the woman "taken in adultery" happened in sometime in Christian history, one more unnecessary slam of women by "religious" men.

From: Ted Drachman (tldrach webtv.net)
Subject: maudlin

I'm reminded of poet James Merrill's decidedly unmaudlin double dactyl on the subject:

Higgledy piggledy
Mary of Magdala
Said to the Dolorous
Mother of God:

Ought to be left to the
Simple amoeba or

Double dactyls, as some of your readers may know, are a light verse form with very strict formal rules. DDs are quite difficult to write, but delightful when wittily conceived and carefully constructed.

From: Mark David (wmdavid tx.rr.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hermetic
Def: 1. Airtight. 2. Not affected by outside influence. 3. Relating to the occult sciences. 4. Obscure or hard to understand.

My introduction to this word came as a young but avid watcher of Johnny Carson performing as Karnak the Great. Ed McMahon pronounced the questions as above reproach since they had been stored in a "hermetically-sealed mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnall's porch". Not only was it a good visual, it made me look up the word hermetic.

From: Steve Thomas (stype sccoast.net)
Subject: Nobel families in science

Your lead-in for the words of this week, featuring the illustrious Curie family, reminded me of another notable family of Nobel laureates in science -- the Thomsons.

It is with only the slightest obfuscation that it can be said that J.J. Thomson won the Nobel prize in physics in 1906 for discovering the electron, a particle inside the atom. In 1937, his son, George Paget Thomson won the Nobel prize in physics for discovering it was not.

Sir George's discovery? The electron is a wave, not a particle.

From: Erlinda Panlilio (epanlilio mac.com)
Subject: Having someone's name turned into a word

Have you heard of "imeldific"? This word derives from Imelda (Marcos) and her excesses, in her projects, style of entertaining, etc. It means ostentatious but with an unsavory connotation. It is now in common usage here in the Philippines.

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. -Anton Chekhov, short-story writer and dramatist (1860-1904)

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