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AWADmail Issue 38

Jul 14, 2001

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

From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net, and a reminder

Teaching swearwords in UK schools:


Reminder: If you wish to send a comment on this AWADmail issue please do not include this whole message. I already have it.

From: P.K. Venkataraghavan (pkvenkatATsynopsys.com)
Subject: pyrrhic victory

After knowing this word, the immediate example, from this part of the world (India), came to my mind is the (in)famous victory of King Ashoka over Kalinga in 262 BC. After the victory, the king felt so 'pyrrhic'(!) about it that he almost became a saint, following Buddhism.

From: Byron Gassman (bgassmanATqwest.net)
Subject: pyrrhic victory

Your Word a Day on pyrrhic victory reminded me of the comment made by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands after Field Marshal Montgomery had said of the ill-fated Operation Market-Garden (the Battle of Arnhem, Sept, 1944) that he remained an unrepentant advocate of it. Bernhard said, "My country can never again afford the luxury of another Montgomery success." (quoted by Cornelius Ryan in "A Bridge Too Far," p. 267.)

From: Tom Fedorek (tfedorekATkrollworldwide.com)
Subject: Pyrrhic Victory

At a recent lunch with a client of my firm, I listened to him describe a transaction where his company, a large media conglomerate, engaged in a bidding war with another media giant to acquire a dot com company. Our client's company prevailed, but the dot com failed to generate the hoped-for revenue growth.

It was with difficulty that I maintained a straight face as the client concluded, "So in the end, it was a phallic victory." A Freudian slip that Freud himself would appreciate!

From: Bindu Damidi (bdamidiATtheccr.com)
Subject: Pyrrhic Victory

Pyrrhic victory - the word set me into thinking about inter-personal relations. Many a personal war that is won is a pyrrhic victory.

From: Michael Holmberg (mholmbergATalldata.net)
Subject: RE: A.Word.A.Day--pyrrhic victory

Regarding Pyrrhic Victory...
Quote from Monty Python's Meaning of Life:
Spoken from a soldier to an officer during the Zulu War: "At home they give you the chair. Here they give you a <expletive> medal!"

From: Phil Carter (pcarter263ATmsn.com)
Subject: War

Your comment that "A war is perhaps the only occasion when killing a person is not only accepted but rewarded" set me thinking about the circumstances under which many of us who fought in Vietnam returned home. Your observation is right on, but Vietnam was perhaps unique in our history of wars in that the killing done by the warriors was not only not rewarded, but also not accepted by the populace on whose behalf the killing was done. I think that one of the hardest things for us to deal with was the fact that we had broken one of the very strongest taboos of a civilized society by taking the life of other human beings. When that was done in other wars, the returning warriors were indeed forgiven and rewarded. It was a crucial part of being reintegrated into society to be told (in both words and actions) that, "We know what you did and how it must have hurt your soul. We also know that you did it for us, and we forgive you and love you for sacrificing that part of yourself on our behalf."

The Vietnam veteran was far too often publicly reviled as a murderer and a baby-killer, which was of course true. It's true in every war, however, and always will be. That's what war is. When people ask me why Vietnam was so different from other wars, and why do its veterans seem to have been so much more terribly affected by their role in it than veterans of other wars, I don't even try to respond. There are too many possibilities to contemplate. But I think this is a major part of the answer to that question. I love your work! It's an oasis of intelligence in a desert of words.

From: Alexandra Halsey (asheditorAThotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--polemology

How fascinating to learn another word formed from "polemos." The most familiar one, of course, is "polemic": a controversial argument.

This week's theme has me feeling positively bellicose. :)

From: Amy Goodrich (arktourossAThome.com)
Subject: Little People's Vocabulary

I was reading my AWAD and using the file for pronunciation (which I find that the auditory introduction of the word seems to enhance my memory of the word). My 3 year old son came up to me and asked what I was doing. I said I was learning a new word. He was very excited by this and asked what it was. I told him the word was Vug and I told him what it meant. A day later after getting a lollipop from the Barber, he was looking intently at it and said "Mommy! There's a vug in my lollipop!" Thinking I heard the wrong thing, I said "There's a BUG in your lollipop?" and exasperatedly, he said "No, there's a VUG mommy...remember your new word? I have a little cave in my lollipop."

I think I will sit down with him every morning and maybe he can help me learn the vocabulary!

From: Paul H. Dunn (dunnATinterfree.it)
Subject: Multilingual Scrabble

The remarks about Scrabble reminded me when I played the game with a recent arrival from Hungary some years ago. He was a scientist but his English was elemental. He played in Hungarian and I played in English. It worked but it was a game of trust.

From: David and/or Jody Crawford (dcrawfordATinfoave.net)
Subject: Learning new words

Not only do I keep the new words that I select as usable "lying around" on my computer e-mail - I send the ones I feel appropriate to friends - AND I try to use them in my e-mail correspondence.

Another note: My son and some friends just won a $75 gift certificate at a pub in Durham NC (his college town) by winning the Thursday night trivia competition. As luck would have it, one of the subjects that night was vocabulary and most of the words came from recent AWAD postings - which my son gets because he subscribed when I kept sending him words. So it pays to learn those AWAD words!

From: Pat Martin (patmartin5ATjuno.com)
Subject: Re: Eater's Digest

In the July 8 Wordsmith, someone mentioned wanting to name a company Eater's Digest. I had just been to the library and picked up Book Two of John W. Schaum's Adult Piano Course. On pages 14 and 15 is "Eater's Digest". The note at the top of the page:

"A Musical Menu
FRUIT by Prokofieff (March from Love of the Three Oranges)
FISH by Schubert (The Trout)
WINE by Mozart (Champagne Aria from Don Giovanni)
CHICKEN by Rameau (The Hen)
COFFEE by Bach (Aria from the Coffee Cantata)"

From: Holly Hansen (hfhansenATmmm.com)
Subject: mondegreens

I know I'm a little behind on my e-mails, but I wanted to add one more to the list about the word Mondegreen. I was interviewing for a job, and was taken out to dinner by two managers. I was nervous, but tried to play it cool. When the server came over for our order, she asked, "Would you like the super salad?" I thought for a minute and replied, "Sure!" I soon realized that I was supposed to choose - soup or salad.

Another one that comes to mind: My mother and I were in Greece and entered a quaint clothing shop. I was admiring a sweater, when the shopkeeper came up to us and loudly stated, "You need sex." I was taken aback, and looked at my mother in shock. I politely said, "What?" He clearly enunciated, "YOU NEED SEX." Only after he qualified his statement with, "For a man or a woman," did I realize he had said unisex.

From: Sundar Vedantham (vedanthamATyahoo.com)
Subject: cromulent

Re: AWADmail Issue 37, regarding the word "cromulent from Simpsons...
The non-existent Scrabble word you are thinking of is "Kwyjibo" and Bart is the one who comes up with that. To my surprise there is even a website called Kwyjibo.com now. The recent Melissa virus author called himself Kwyjibo and got the "word" some negative publicity.

There is another episode in which Jebediah Springfield's entry into the town is portrayed in a movie shown in Springfield Elementary. Jebediah says "A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man." which becomes the town motto. When one of the school teachers (Ms. Edna Krabapple) tells the other (Ms. Hoover) that embiggens is not even a word, Ms. Hoover replies, "I think it is a cromulent word."

Words are a commodity in which there is never any slump. -Christopher Morley, writer (1890-1957)

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