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AWADmail Issue 396

January 31, 2010

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

Foreign Languages Fade in Class -- Except Chinese
The New York Times

At the End of the Day, Australians Just Hate Cliches
Sydney Sunday Telegraph

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Combining combining forms to form words

In this week's invitation to form words using given combining forms, for some reason theodactyl struck a chord with many readers. Read on for a selection of the coinages:

Oligodactyl: having fewer toes or fingers than normal, i.e., after using a table saw
Theodactyl: the finger of God -- an F5 tornado
-Nancy Parker (nparker4 mindspring.com)

Having worked in travel for a good chunk of my life, an obvious synonym for many travel agents (particularly here in the often grey UK) would be heliopolists. That said, knowing from thousands of people's feedback over the years that the sun is not always what they truly seek (despite perhaps their believing to the contrary), I do like to think that 'travellers', rather than 'holiday-makers', are rather more anthropolatric -- finding the answers to their 'big questions' in the kindness and wisdom of other human beings from far-flung lands and cultures, rather than from a sunbed reading the latest Dan Brown.
-Dan Green (Dan.Green lonelyplanet.co.uk)

Heliotheodactylatry: Worshipping the fingers and the toes of the sun god (that is, rays of the sun), not to be confused with sunbathing. It's a real thing, observe the eastward facing fenestration of some churches.
-Jon Beardsley (jon.s.beardsley gmail.com)

Theodactyl: the focal point of Michelangelo's Creation of Adam.
-Faldage, via Wordsmith Talk bulletin board

Theopoly: religion for hire; organized religion
-Thomas Green (tagreen97 yahoo.com)

Theophagy: (god eating), relating to the Eucharist and similar rites.
-Jeff Turner (jturner alum.rpi.edu)

Theodactyl: Medieval class of representations of assumption of deities or saints, in which feet can be seen disappearing into clouds. Also, conversely, in which fingers of god reach down, point, or hand down instructions.
-Sheila Michaels (shemichaels earthlink.net)

Oligotheolatry: the worship of only a few gods.
"People who have trouble keeping track of the Roman Pantheon should choose a more oligtheolatrous religion -- Christianity's "Triune God" might be a good start." -- translated from a fragment of propaganda from the reign of Constantine, circa 314.
-Allen Foster (allen foster-brague.net)

Heliodactyl: having sunburned toes from wearing flip flops without sunscreen.
-Marilynn Hart (msh1542 bjc.org)

Theodactylatry: A devoted fixation on the place on the Sistine Chapel ceiling where God's finger touches that of man.
-Nancy Wilson (wilsonna sonic.net)

Heliodactyl: (sun-fingers) Like rays of sunlight shining through partial clouds or foliage. In the depths of the redwood forest, Roland was cheered by the heliodactyl light piercing the mist.
-Allison Hershey (alliefiona gmail.com)

Email of the Week
(Email of the Week)

Theogony: origin of gods
Oligogony: the very beginning
Artiogony: the number 2
Heliogony: the Big Bang
Hagiogony: martyrdom

Theopoly: selling of idols
Oligopoly: a failing business
Artiopoly: a lottery
Heliopoly: a tanning salon
Hagiopoly: trading in relics

Theodactyl: acting as the hands and feet of God
Oligodactyl: having fewer fingers or toes than normal
Artiodactyl: having an even number of fingers or toes
Heliodactyl: having unusually warm hands or feet
Hagiodactyl: a saint's relic consisting of finger or toe bones

Theolatry: worship of gods
Oligolatry: worship of the simple life
Artiolatry: worship of even numbers
Heliolatry: sun worship
Hagiolatry: worship of the saints

Theography: the writings of gods, or about gods
Oligography: writing haiku
Artiography: writing of sonnets
Heliography: the path of the sun across the sky
Hagiography: a biography of a saint
-Becky Becker (bbecker001 cinci.rr.com)

From: James Miller (millnjam yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--oligopoly
Def: A market condition in which there are few sellers.

There is a housing development not far from here that has been delayed for quite some time. The company started several houses, but ran out of money (and out of town) after constructing only the basements. The only growth we've seen as a result is blackberry brambles. I think I will rename it "Oligop". (There are a few cellars and a few briars.)

From: Cygnis Black (snookeroo_ hotmail.com)
Subject: Oligopoly

I was able to use this word today when writing my congressional representative about opposing the Comcast-NBC merger, which I learned about at freepress.net. Definitely a useful word in today's world.

From: Graham Sutton (grahams99 tesco.net)
Subject: oligopoly

Many years ago, I visited a young lady classmate who was engaged to a bright young economist. He was a bit prickly, maybe wrongly suspecting me of trying to steal his girl, and when he heard that I'd studied a bit of economics he quizzed me: "Okay, what's an oligopoly?"

I explained that this was better known as a cartel. There are few suppliers, and on one level they are in competition. But they also collude to protect their mutual interests, the tobacco industry being a powerful example.

He was satified, we remained on good terms, and he was deservedly appointed professor. Alas, there was later a minor scandal when that lady now his wife ran off to Switzerland. Er, um, with me.

From: Ted McNamara (tedmcn22 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--oligopoly

Given this week's theme, we might linguistically atom smash some monosyllables together and get one big roly-poly, polysyllabic, new word. polypoly-polysony = a free market. (pronounced: polly-poly-polly-sony)

From: Sander Smith (alexander.smith ucl.ac.uk)
Subject: Oligo-

Your assertion that these combining forms only occur in combination with some other form is not entirely true for 'oligo'. Oligo is used very commonly in molecular biology as a noun, meaning a short stretch of DNA. Admittedly, it originally was an abbreviation of oligonucleotide, but is has become a noun in its own right.

From: Sarah Festger (sarahfestger q.com)
Subject: artiodactyl
Def: Having an even number of toes on each foot.

Since I lost two toes on one foot (even number) and three toes (odd number) on the other, I figure I am ambidactyl!

From: James Miller (millnjam yahoo.com)
Subject: artiodactyl

He had four toes, useful and tactile;
He was cool with it, 's a matter of fact he'll
Often proclaim
"Tho' Arthur's my name,
Call me Artie--Artie O'Dactyl."

From: Rama Kulkarni (drramakulkarni gmail.com)
Subject: heliolatry
Def: Worship of the sun.

The yoga exercise Surya namaskaar (sun salutation) would be a form of heliolatry, wouldn't it?

From: Peirce Hammond (peirce_hammond ed.gov)
Subject: heliolatry

How can we not worship the sun? It is the source of our energy: beneficial rays, food production, keeping us comfortably warm, and our principal initial source of timekeeping. A wonder? No wonder!

From: Adam Prine (adam.prine asu.edu)
Subject: heliolatry

I was inspired to comment to a friend in Iowa, who had posted on her Facebook page that she was "going to tan" that she was still practicing heliolatry, then realized that, in January in Iowa, she is practicing faux-heliolatry!

From: Willard Palmer (bill adessoverlag.com)
Subject: hagiography
Def: 1. A biography of a saint. 2. An uncritical biography, treating its subject with undue reverence.

Aleister Crowley called his autobiography an autohagiography. He felt that his prominent position as the self-proclaimed "Beast" of Revelations qualified him as a saint, albeit an evil one.

From: George Pajari (george pajari.ca)
Subject: combining forms

A disease I'm terrified of -- you could say, I suffer from pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosisphobia.

From: David Goldberg (goldberg orchard.washtenaw.cc.mi.us)
Subject: Combining forms

This week's theme recalls the word-game I learned as "monolithic biavicide" (killing two birds with one stone), which some learned friends and I worked on many years ago. We created a list of about 40 latined and greeked aphorisms. You can google for it and find a few versions of the list, at least one bowdlerized.

A few representative creations:
Felinolingual seizure: cat got your tongue
Chronopantraumatherapy: time heals all wounds
Vitrodomopetrojection: throwing a stone from a glass house
Xanthogaster: yellowbelly
Postovular gallinomics: counting your chickens after they hatch

From: Ron Frazier (ronfraz verizon.net)
Subject: Lego artwork
See what else you can do with Lego blocks, besides build words!: Nathan Sawaya, a 36-year-old former lawyer, has stunned the world with his incredible LEGO artworks.

From: Allison Taylor (m.allison.taylor gmail.com)
Subject: Wikiwalking in the last week's comments (Re: AWADmail 395)

I've actually seen this played as a game among groups of friends with laptops: one person gives the others a pair of topics on Wikipedia, and whoever can go from A to B the quickest wins. This game of distractions is itself a very good distraction from whatever you're supposed to be doing with those laptops -- like studying for your finals!

Standard English is a convenient abstraction, like the average man. -George Leslie Brook, English professor, author (1910-1987)

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