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AWADmail Issue 373

August 23, 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

'Wee-Weed'? Let's Just Wash Our Hands of It
The Washington Post

The Words You Love to Hate

From: Richard Schmitz (davey59w msn.com)
Subject: diastrophism
Def: The process of deformation of the earth's crust that produces continents, mountains, ocean basins, etc.

By coincidence I read an article just this morning about another lake in the eastern Congo that has many times the content of methane and carbon dioxide as the lake in Cameroon. If (when) diastrophism beneath the lake causes the gas to be released to the surface, many thousands will die. It's just one more thing to worry about, in addition to the devastation which will result from predicted diastrophism causing a 9.2 earthquake in the Olympic peninsula -- sometime in the next few (hundred) years.

From: Claire Todd (matty39 earthlink.net)
Subject: Micropsia
Def: A defect of vision in which objects appear smaller than normal.

Just curious whether I'm understanding these words correctly - isn't the writer using the wrong word in his example? If he felt everything around him was LARGER than it really was, shouldn't he have used the word macropsia?

"Seated on the chill concrete, I felt a recurrence of my childhood micropsia, a night terror I thought I'd left behind at age eleven or twelve, in my bedroom on Dean Street: the sensation that my body was reduced to speck size."
Jonathan Lethem; The Fortress of Solitude; Doubleday; 2003.

(BTW, I look forward to the new word every morning!)

Several alert readers noted this. To give the writer the benefit of doubt, we assume he was looking at his own body when he said he experienced micropsia.
-Anu Garg

From: Denise Quarles (mumusok hotmail.com)
Subject: simpatico
Def: 1. Like-minded; compatible. 2. Congenial; likable.

Here in Italy simpatico/a is also commonly used as a euphemism for someone who is unattractive. "So, what's her new boyfriend like?" "Well, he's very... simpatico."

From: Ned Harris (ebhlch sbcglobal.net)
Subject: finger exercise

I'm disappointed -- I expected all of this week's words to require the use of all the qwerty keys. :-(

From: Gary Wayne Loew (garyl champion-workflow.com)
Subject: This week's theme

I believe that this week's theme is insufficiently specified for two reasons: Humans are generally regarded as having ten fingers. Thus, this week's words would need to contain at least two blanks in order to exercise our opposable digits. There is a presumption that the typist is employing the touch-typing method. Those limited to "hunt and peck" typing will only exercise their index fingers.

From: Claudine Lespagnol (clolesp club-internet.fr)
Subject: this week's fingercises

Tell me, is the exercise as efficient and appropriate on an AZERTY keyboard? No danger for us AZERTY users to practice for a whole week?

From: Dan Bent (danbent fairmediation.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--diastrophism

I'm not sure that your premise is correct that in ancient times there were no gymnasiums, etc. As I recall from having read this years ago, Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca in his essay "On Noise" describes living above a gymnasium with the weights clanking and making noise.

From Iris Marshall (irismarshall comcast.net)
Subject: Thanks

I just want to let you know how much I have enjoyed getting a word a day. Just as much I've enjoyed how you have organized the week's words around a theme. How clever (as many weeks are) is this week's organization around "finger exercise". It's always fun to see the constructs around which people organize information. Thank you.

From: Steve Hayes (swh ghnlawyers.com)
Subject: words in legal briefs

Keep up the great work. I look forward to my Wordsmith word every weekday. My colleagues and I try to use it in a sentence of our own. Special prize if we can use it successfully in a legal brief. Gave a gift subscription to one of our court of appeals judges so he can look for my special word in the brief. Great fun.

By words the mind is winged. -Aristophanes, dramatist (c. 448-385 BCE)

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