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AWADmail Issue 370

August 2, 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

Linguist's Preservation Kit Has New Digital Tools
The New York Times

Linguists Talk Up Figures of Speech
The Age

Meet John Doe. No, Really!
The New York Times blogs

From: John Waddell (john waddellzoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--exogenous
Def: Originating from outside.

Today's word is a very familiar and regular visitor to my world and every other US Army aviator. It is in the title of one of the shortest and yet most impactful Army Regulations, AR 40-8, "Temporary Flying Restrictions Due to Exogenous Factors Affecting Aircrew Efficiency". This regulation, among other things, applies restrictions to flying due to alcohol, generally described as the "12 hours bottle to throttle rule". I've always wondered why it wasn't just "External Factors", or even just "Flight Restrictions", but its constant presence has peppered a rather plain linguistic landscape for years.

From: Linda Gould (lgouldr myfairpoint.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cacography
Def: 1. Bad handwriting. 2. Incorrect spelling.

When I was a child the word "kaka" was used for a "poo" or bowel movement. I guess it had a lot more history than I ever imagined with its Indo-European roots.

From: Alex Eliott (rae khl.co.za)
Subject: Cacography

One of our South African languages is Afrikaans, which is mainly a derivation and simplification of Dutch. A word of some power and purpose in Afrikaans, and used by many English speakers, is "kak". This is a slang word which as a verb means to defecate and as a noun, well you can guess. However it is most often used an adjective and means, euphemistically, "really bad". It is fascinating to see that it has such ancient roots and that the meaning and usage of the word has in fact not changed at all.

From: Peter Bradford (peterjb1 yahoo.com)
Subject: Cacography

Presumably the Greek 'kakos' (bad) also leads us to 'cack-handed'; a well-known slang term in the British Isles for somebody who is left-handed.

From: Charles Schimmel (cws635 earthlink.net)
Subject: cacography

Of all the courses that a medical student must take to get his M.D., surely there must be one for cacography.

From: Davida Rosenblum (Davida10 verizon.net)
Subject: Coleridge's aphorism 7/29/2009

Re: "The man's desire is for the woman but the woman's desire is rarely other than for the desire of the man." -Samuel Taylor Coleridge, poet (1772-1834)

I will be surprised if you do not receive many more comments than mine to this outdated idea of women's desire. This may have been true in Coleridge's time, because of the corseting, if you will, of women's sexuality at the time, but surely studies during the past sixty years (Hite, Kinsey, Masters and Johnson) have disproved this. This octogenarian has lustily desired many men, whether or not they lustily desired me, and unless my experiences are very different from that of other women, and I doubt it, my desire was definitely for the man himself, and surely as carnal as his.

From: Bob Mueller (muelr dvfs.org)
Subject: Coleridge quotation

Really!?! What was Coleridge smoking in that stately pleasure dome of his?

From: Cathleen Adams (adamscathleen hotmail.com)
Subject: Equanimity and Dr. Wm Osler (Re: AWADmail 369)

Dr. Osler was born, educated, practiced, and taught Medicine in Canada. Dr. Miller has incorrectly ascribed British citizenship (because of Osler's knighhood?). He later founded Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore with three others.

Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire. -Roland Barthes, literary critic and philosopher (1915-1980)

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