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AWADmail Issue 430

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

Goodbye, Cruel Words: English. It's Dead to Me.
The Washington Post

How to Pronounce Lili'uokalani? Ask Marvin Nogelmeier
The Wall Street Journal

European 'Day of Languages' Celebrated in English

Punctuation Gets High Marks on Holiday

From: Ken Sharp (agrajar att.net)
Subject: emanate or M-N-8
Def: To emit or to come out.

A mention of William Steig's books C D B! and C D C? is appropriate here, both of which I understand to be a collection of illustrated scenes with the dialogue formed in the same way as this week's words. An example is a boy telling his dog, " I m a u-m b-n, u r n n-m-l". I have not read them myself, but they were referenced in "Le Ton Beau de Marot" by Douglas Hofstadter, another great book for those who like to play with words and language.

From: Scott Morrison (jscottmorrison myfairpoint.net)
Subject: Re: letter words

When we were children we told a joke that made the rounds again and again and never failed to get a laugh. It's a dialog:

ABCD puppies?
LMNO puppies!

Abie, see them puppies?
Hell, them ain't no puppies!
Oh, yes they are! See them peeing?

I suspect, in those more innocent times, the use of 'L' and 'PN' created part of the forbidden fun.

From: Don Williams (don.williams park.edu)
Subject: Emanate

As a university biology professor, "text speak" just drives me nuts, especially in emails from students. I recall my first abbreviated science term, though, was "N R G" for "energy" which a student used many years ago, well before cell phones and texting. I must admit, I have even used it from time to time, myself.

Email of the Week - (Sponsored by One Up! - Do you like playing head games?)

From: Nigel Elbourne (elbourne europe.com)
Subject: "sounds like" words

As an Englishman living in France, I have had to accustom myself to a different set of homophones. K9 (ka neuf), for instance, has nothing to do with dogs. However, in any music shop there will be a stand labelled K7 where one may purchase a video or audio cassette (ka sept). Textos in French are as rich in homophonic abbreviations as their anglophone equivalents.

From: Henry Willis (hmw ssdslaw.com)
Subject: Acronyms, LEET, etc.

My father, who once collected license plates, told me of a book he had heard of, but had not seen, written entirely in the telegraphic punning language of vanity license plates. And now, thanks to Google and Amazon, it's possible to locate it: PL8SPK, with a metallic cover that looks like a slightly rumpled plate. GR82CIT after all these years.

From: John Whittier (johnrwhittier clear.net)
Subject: Abbreviations

Years ago Road & Track magazine ran a photo of a Lamborghini with the license plate IXLR8. Many interpreted it as "I accelerate" while others thought it meant "I exhilarate"; I'm sure neither group was wrong.

From: Ingrid Crickmore (ingridcrickmore earthlink.net)
Subject: letter words

My husband and I are amateur botanists who like desert plants of the western US Some of our favorite desert shrubs belong to the plant family Euphorbiaceae, which can be written much more succinctly (for American "botanical Latin") as U4BACE -- pronounced exactly as written, six syllables, the accent usually on the "A". That happens to be our license plate, which only two people have ever decoded -- one a botany major, and the other somebody who once drove past us on the freeway honking and giving us a thumbs-up, whose own license plate read H20WEED...

Thanks for all the magical words!

From: Peter Ryerson (pryerson hotmail.co.uk)
Subject: letters for words

I used to be in the Merchant Navy. Every morning the Chief Engineer submitted a record of the amount of fuel oil left in the tanks. As a smudge by a zero could be construed as 10 tons left, when the tank was empty he always put in MT so there was no confusion!

From: Elinor Stecker-Orel (FamousElinor optonline.net)
Subject: letters for words

My husband wondered about the mysterious letters on some boxes in my closet. It made sense to me to label them simply "MT". Filmmakers have long used "FX" for "effects", and now Photoshop has an "FX" icon to click when you want to add special effects to a photo. But I never thought to sign my emails as LNR.

From: Dewey Lewis (lewisd coastalcarolina.edu)
Subject: K-9 for Canine

My favorite is from James Taylor's 1979 album, Flag. The song BSUR (SUCSIMIM) conveys Be As You Are (As You See, As I Am I Am). And it is a wonderful song as well.

From: John Fisher (jfi60896 bigpond.net.au)
Subject: Text msg poetry

At this magazine you may find the elegy on the death of "sweet MLEK" at the home of her cousin, Miss LNG, at Q.

From: Harold Hyman (shandhh verizon.net)
Subject: Abbreviations

Abbreviations such as "CUL" (See you later) and "BCNU" (Be seeing you), VY for "Very" TNX for "Thanks" are commonly used by radio amateurs when sending messages by Morse code. The objective is to communicate clearly but get the message across using as few dits and dahs as possible and without having to spell out whole words.

From: Leslie Hayes (lesliehayes fastmail.fm)
Subject: letters and numbers

You can't write my name in text speak, but, growing up, I was always very proud that you could write my name Leslie upside down on a calculator: 317537.

From: Edie Bonferraro (edieb mailbug.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--emanate

Regarding your name abbreviation examples (KC, KT, etc.), I'm reminded that be it siblingspeak, misspeak, or textspeak, my name has always been a problem: First, in childhood, my big, bad brudder would transform Edith into Edeath. Re my nickname, Edie often becomes Eddie. And re textspeak, Edie becomes ED. Can't win.

From: Terri Anderson (misterri gmail.com)
Subject: letter-words

In enjoying this week's theme, I'm reminded of my aunt, whose name is spelled Mle (that sounds like Emily). Yup, M-L-E. My grandparents were a bit less creative with their other three children (all younger than Mle), who were just Wynona (my mom), Delmer, and Rita.

From: Vincent Andrunas (vincent znet.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--emanate

I have no quarrel with the use of abbreviations and acronyms to save space and time. But using "LX" for Alex or "K8" for Kate is intolerable, since it's really just an attempt to be "cute", saving just two keystrokes at the expense of obfuscating the meaning. The time the sender saves in writing the message is far smaller than the time wasted by readers having to figure out what the sender meant. Sure, they'll get it pretty quickly -- but only the sender gets any benefit, and that's minuscule. I'd say that writing this way is just selfish and inconsiderate. Better to learn to work your thumbs more quickly!

From: Steve Swift (steve.j.swift gmail.com)
Subject: Cutesy cellphone abbrvs

Recent research has show that prolific users of cellphone abbreviations (my phone had the original QWERTY keyboard, so I don't use them) score slightly higher in their English examinations. The theory is that *any* use of *any* language sharpens the mind in the relevant skills.

From: Samantha LaPorte (sl chessick.com)
Subject: textspeak

Many modern Native Americans go by NDN online and in print, vice Indian or Native. There's "NDN Pride" t-shirts for sale at powwows, "Oneida NDN" license plates, and "NDNlvr" screen names.

From: Zach Shatz (prismind hotmail.com)
Subject: UR GR8

Actually I do teach high school English...in China. Like other teens, my charges think such text-clips (coined at this moment) r ever so hip and cool. Then, though not exactly what we're talking about, the Chinese abbreviate "something" as sth, and "somebody" as sb. After a while I've come to appreciate that economy. It's useful, though not acceptable in formal writing. Another instance of your theme which predates cell phones is license plates, the best one I ever saw being: 1GR8APE. Not to mention Lawrence Welk's A1NA2.

From: Eoiun Bairéad (ebairead gmail.com)
Subject: MN8

The abbreviations used in texting are simple and clear in comparison with the ligatures and shorthand used by Irish monks in their manuscripts over 1,000 years ago.

From: Dilip S. Coulagi (dcoulagi gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--emanate

As I said to my gf: O U QT U R A BUT.

From: Dave Jones (ddj44 comcast.net)
Subject: Textspeak

Imagine if your cardiologist emailed you the results of your test with the note: "C me 4 UR <3." Chances are you'd want to fire him....

Even if he sent you a fully literate message, his chart notes probably refer to your "hx" (history) & your two drugs ("p.r.n." -- as needed & "b.i.d. -- taken twice a day).

From: John Foster (johnafoster gmail.com)
Subject: Text speak words

Your theme this week reminds me of a sketch by The Two Ronnies about ordering food in a Swedish restaurant.

F U N E X?
S, V F X.
F U N E M?
S, V F M.
O K, L F M N X.

The "translation" (best said in a Swedish accent) being:
Have you any eggs?
Yes, we have eggs.
Have you any ham?
Yes, we have ham.
OK, I'll have ham and eggs.

From: Randall Chuck (compass_chicago msn.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--emanate

How could you have overlooked the masters of textspeak, the US Military? Sixty or so years ago, my life was directed by orders that were very close to this:

Fol namd EM are relsd frm dty, 1st Trnst Co, XCorps, Pusan, RNK a/o (Date) & ordr to rept to HQ 23 RCT, 2INF (Loc TpSEC) RNK. for reasgnm & disp NLT (time and date)

JONES, JOHN NMI (Serial Number) SGT (E-5) PMOS 111.69; SMOS 112.60 ETS (Date)

Grp transpt by MIL air/veh AUTH. PVT TRANS NOT AUTH.

Nothing made me appreciate words and phraseology more than my 41 months of active duty. When I become depressed by reading texts from our two boys, I find solace by reading Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet. No one, in my opinion, used the language more melodically and no one ever described my profession (I'm a retired Madison Avenue Man, not a Mad Man) so well as when one of his characters (Balthazar I believe) uttered these words: "We are seeking rationale reasons to believe the absurd."

From: Steve Benko (steve.benko gecapital.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--emanate

Your history of the use of phonetic abbreviations as early as the 17th century doesn't go back nearly far enough! It's my understanding that ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics were in fact exactly the same thing. Lacking a phonetic alphabet, they would use pictographs that sounded like the word they were trying to write -- for example, to use a modern English analog, an eye for "I". This was only finally realized, allowing hieroglyphics at last to be deciphered, when the Rosetta Stone was uncovered carrying the same message in several different languages.

From: Bard Ermentrout (bard pitt.edu)
Subject: Deify
Def: 1. To make a god of. 2. To revere or idealize as a deity.

I always liked the past tense of the word, deified, since it is palindromic!

From: John Wainwright (johnwainwright iinet.net.au)
Subject: Deify

I pronounce it as 'day if eye'. You were always going to have trouble with this theme -- there must be enough variation in domestic pronunciations, let alone international.

From: Steve Lipsher (slipsher comcast.net)
Subject: extenuate
Def: 1. To reduce or attempt to reduce the severity of. 2. To lessen or to make light of.

There's a great little mountain-bike trail near Breckenridge, Colo., called X10U8 . It is a less severe (fewer cliffs to tumble down) alternative to the rigorous Minnie Mine trail, which has the same starting and ending points, so it is appropriately named ... er, numbered. Love AWAD!

From: Bob Doolittle (doolittleb sscinc.com)
Subject: X-10-U-8

Like myself, I'm sure many readers first encountered this word in Othello's final speech: "Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice." I wonder how the Bard would fare in the world of texting and tweeting: "2 B R not 2 B, that S the ?"

From: Rick Graham (videograham sbcglobal.net)
Subject: extenuate / X-10-U-8

"Big bust, small lower half -- wear fitted jeans and tuck in your blouse to extenuate your waist."
Lindsay Clydesdale; A to Zoe of Fashion; Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland); May 11, 2010.

I wonder if some people might rather X-N-2-8 their small waists.

From: Saranne Cessford (sarannec worldonline.co.za)
Subject: elegy
Def: A poem composed as a lament for the dead.

We spent some years in Indonesia, and were intrigued by the way words found their way into Bahasa: It took me a while to recognise elpiji as LPG -- liquid petroleum gas.

From: Peter Bradford (peterjb1 yahoo.com)
Subject: Letter-words

Very amusing, but it reminded me of an apocryphal story of Hue (the artist Charles-Désiré Hue?) who, when arrested in Pecu sent a simple message back to France: O-P-Q-R-S-T. This was correctly translated as "Au Pecu, arresteé!" ("Arrested in Pecu!"). Whether the story is correct or not, the wonderful reverse order letter sequence certainly reads as a sentence phonetically.

From: Ben Carnes (carnes pacificnet.net)
Subject: Letter Words

My sons both work in the computer industry and started doing tech support at a large insurance company. When they got one of those ridiculous calls like "The cupholder won't come out" or "I can't find the "any" (N-E) key", they referred to it as an eye-dee-ten-tee problem. When I asked them why that term, they wrote it out I-D-10-T. Strictly speaking, not a letter word, but a combination letter/number word.

From: John Means (jbmeans gmail.com)
Subject: Re: Special announcement: Now there are one million linguaphiles!

I'm delighted to learn that I'm "one in a million".

From: Kathleen Jun (kathleenjun yahoo.com)
Subject: Big accomplishment

Just wishing you congratulations on the "mille-stone".

From: Leticia Delatorre (ldelatorre impactshield.com)
Subject: Congrats!

Congratulations! I ADORE receiving my AWAD emails! I must say, I read this edition with a smile on my face. It was so personal and real. What joy it is to open your email every day to the chagrin of my husband (the emails come in at 3am to my Blackberry and I sleep with it under my pillow, so it wakes him. Yes, I do read it at 3 am)!

I post your AWAD or quote your Thought of the Day on Facebook all the time.

From: David Newton (newton icon.co.za)
Subject: Re: Special announcement: Now there are one million linguaphiles!

Congratulations, Anu Garg, it is a Gargantuan achievement!

From: Cynthia Barnhart (cbarnhart goldenrams.com)
Subject: Re: Special announcement: Now there are one million linguaphiles!

Thought I would let you know that on my teacher web page I have a link to your site. If my students go there and are able to tell me the word of the day and definition they can earn five extra credit points.
[how to add AWAD to your web page]

From: Jeff Cebulski (bullski hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: Special announcement: Now there are one million linguaphiles!

Congratulations on achieving this notable figure! When people talk about the positive contributions of the Internet, Wordsmith is among the best contributors.

From: Alfredo Cruz (alfredo.cruz rrd.com)
Subject: Re: Special announcement: Now there are one million linguaphiles!

¡Felicidades desde México, Anu! I'm happy to be a 1/1,000,739 th part of your success! If you've gotten a new subscriber each hour, you would had begun more than 114 years ago! Just to have a little perspective, we are celebrating our independence bicentennial (1,752,000 hours) and our revolution centennial (876,000 hours) this year.

From: Jon Roger Coughtry (mindwalker ireland.com)
Subject: Your Amazing Achievement

Congratulations for stepping over that one-million-member line. I've had you over for morning coffee for years, and couldn't start my day without you. Many thanks, and nice job (which where I come from is the greatest compliment).

From: Coleen Laskey (laskey mindspring.com)
Subject: Re: Special announcement: Now there are one million linguaphiles!

Congratulations on this wonderful milestone! I must tell you that I was directed to subscribe to AWAD many years ago by a cardiologist who was giving me a stress test and somehow we wandered into a conversation about words and he told me about your website and immediately hooked me up right there in his office. He was so enthusiastic about your site that he wanted everyone who showed interest in language to be a part of it. Sooooooo..... he is one of your angels spreading the love of words.

From: Larry Aronson (ellay bellsouth.net)
Subject: Re: Special announcement: Now there are one million linguaphiles!

When you mentioned Eric Shackle the thought occurred; do you have any idea of the ages of your subscribers. I for one am 93 and have been one since, oh I don't recall, but your records may show it to be about a dozen years.

We do not collect information on age. We are so glad to have you here. If they are any older subscribers, they are welcome to let us know. We'd love to find out our oldest subscriber and also the youngest.
-Anu Garg
(words at wordsmith.org)

From: Felipe Ehrenberg Enríquez (kbajin yahoo.com)
Subject: Breaking record

As a Spanish language speaker, I've carried Wordsmith with me from country to country, beginning with México and now in São Paulo, in at least 12 of the 217 countries you reach, for over 12 years.

From: Meenakshi Ramesh (ramesh.meenakshi gmail.com)
Subject: Re: Thank you and a suggestion

Many many congratulations on reaching the magic million!

On this joyous occasion, I request you share with your subscribers, the joy of a unique movement that aims to engage all Indians in different "acts of giving" -- money, time, resources, and skills. The Joy of Giving Week (JGW) was launched and celebrated successfully between Sept 27 and Oct 3, 2009, involving more than 200 NGOs, 1000 schools, 100 colleges, 200 companies, and two million individuals, and channelled over Rs 100 million in cash and kind donations. Here's a link to a short video on JGW 2009.

The idea is to create, over a few years, a "festival of philanthropy" that becomes a part of the Indian ethos. JGW 2010 will be held from Sept 26-Oct 2, 2010. There are already over 200 events scheduled to take place in this week - all purely voluntary, and we are still counting at joyofgivingweek.org.

While we may be focusing on India right now, a message as powerful as this, knows no national, religious, or linguistic boundaries. So I am asking one million linguaphiles this question: Have you done a good deed today?

From: Tom Trottier (tom abacurial.com)
Subject: Re: longest address :)

Given that many have a short address, why not measure it in pixels for 12pt arial type?

Then something like j j.jj will win.

Compared to the drama of words, Hamlet is a light farce. -Anatoly Liberman, professor (b. 1937)

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