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AWADmail Issue 369

July 26, 2009

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

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Defining 'Behavior'
The New York Times

Mother Tongue Absent in Thousands of Classrooms
Inter Press Service

From: Dr. Howard Miller (hmill80 firewireinternet.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--equanimity
Def: Evenness of temper in all circumstances.

I was pleased to see "equanimity" as the word-of-the-day on July 19 -- my favorite word in the practice of medicine. When we graduated in 1952 from medical school (WRU), along with our diplomas we were presented with a book of essays authored by Sir William Osler, a highly esteemed Canadian physician. The title of the book is "Aequanimitas and other Addresses". The first chapter (address) deals with the value of "the essential bodily virtue" i.e. equanimity, in the practice of medicine. This lesson stayed with me throughout my years in active practice and guided me through many emergencies and trying events. It is indeed a critical virtue for a physician to possess.

From: Rudy Rosenberg Sr (RRosenbergSr accuratechemical.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--equanimity

There was this set of twin sisters in Minnesota. Both were nearly 6 footers. A little fellow stared at them and asked: Do you play basketball? With equanimity, one replied: No! Do you play miniature golf?

From: Maryann Errico (merrico gpc.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--assiduous
Def: Constant; persistent; industrious.

A few years ago I wrote a letter of praise to the manager of my tennis club complimenting the new tennis pro for being assiduous in providing lessons to me and my friends. At the next meeting with my pro, he asked me what he'd done to displease me. I told him that, on the contrary, I had written his supervisor singing his praises. It seems that his supervisor, rather than using a dictionary, called the pro in to admonish him because one of the clients had called him an ass. I promptly went over to the manager to correct the misunderstanding.

From: David Boyd (millview kingston.net)
Subject: Assiduous

This word acted as a sharp reminder of a stern teacher who believed in expanding the knowledge of his ten-year-old pupils. Catching me gazing at the clouds floating beyond the window, he accurately fired a piece of chalk at my head, capturing my undivided attention. "During recess, you idler, you will give me 100 lines of this..." he snapped, quickly scripting the phrase "assiduity is efficacious" on the blackboard. The forty-something, former Spitfire pilot, darkened my morning while brightening my vocabulary. It was 1955, in Victoria B.C., Canada.

From: David Smith (dsmith psl.nmsu.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--disinter
Def: 1. To remove from a grave. 2. To bring to light.

'Disinter' reminds me of my favorite pun and limerick, combined, which I heard recited by Johnny Carson:

An unfortunate fellow named Hyde
fell down an outhouse and died.
By mischance, his brother
fell down another.
And now they're interred side-by-side.

From: Brown, Frank (frank.brown travelport.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--minatory
Def: Threatening or menacing.

"The best armor is to keep out of gunshot." -Francis Bacon, essayist, philosopher, and statesman (1561-1626)

The person who first introduced Okinawan Karate to Japan in a major way was Gichin Funakoshi. He developed a set of Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate or Ninju Kun. The second principle is generally listed in American Karate Schools as:

There is no first strike in karate (Karate ni sente nashi).

However that was translated to me as "In Karate the first strike is not there", so I figured it meant that the first defense was not to be in a situation that required the use of Karate in the first place. . I had friends who got in fights a lot because they frequented biker bars. I frequented yuppy restaurants with bars and never got in a fight. I always thought that meant my self-defense skills were better than theirs. Apparently Francis Bacon would agree.

From: Joan Morgan (joan slaglemorgan.com)
Subject: Thank you...

A.Word.A.Day is the only daily thing I have specifically invited to my email box (and those of my staff) for ? five years? ten?! I'm a lawyer, so careful attention to language is second nature. I like expanding my vocabulary even if some words only remain in my head, never likely to be written or spoken by me.
Thought of the day makes everything complete for me. I frequently cut/paste the quotation into an email Subject line and forward to friends. The best compliment I can pay is that I always feel enriched after having read my AWAD. I wish I could remember an AWAD word that is like Thank You so I'll take a stab at Norwegian: Tusen Tak (thousand thanks?!

Syllables govern the world. -John Selden, historian and politician (1584-1654)

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