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AWADmail Issue 433

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

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Hunting One Language, Stumbling Upon Another
The New York Times

Language Labs to Help Golfers Communicate
The New York Times

From: Helge Gunnar Holm (helgeposten gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sienna
Def: A color derived from clay, ranging from yellowish brown (in raw form) to reddish brown (when roasted).

And in fact, all the city of Siena looks just that way. My wife, my daughter and I were visiting the city for I don't know what time, last summer. My wife and I hold Siena as our favorite #1 in Italy, though it is in keen competition, as we have been seeing a lot of this fabulous country with its beautiful cities. The general impression is pure middle age.

Email of the Week - (Sponsored by Well-(Read) - Ignorance is the real enemy.)

From: Charlie Brummitt (brummitt gmail.com)
Subject: Sienna and burnt sienna

You can learn more about the colors Sienna and Burnt Sienna on Wolfram|Alpha.

Each color alone: sienna, burnt sienna

Side-by-side comparison: sienna vs burnt sienna

Even blend them: blend

From: Mel Walker (mwalker mac.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sienna

The word "sienna" always reminds me of one of my favorite webcomics, PvP, about a company who puts out a gaming magazine. The character of the company artist is named "Brent Sienna", an obvious play on the crayon color burnt sienna.

From: Dale Mcmillen (dale.mcmillen eds.com)
Subject: nankeen
Def: 1. A yellow or buff color. 2. A sturdy yellow or buff cotton fabric. 3. (nankeens) Trousers made of this cloth. 4. A Chinese porcelain having blue designs on a white background.

As someone who has a keen interest in WWII, it's very difficult for me to separate the city of Nanking with the tragedy that befell it during WWII. Perhaps I should visit Nanking so my mental reference is counter balanced with the modern city of Nanking, but when I read this I wondered how we would react to learn there is a color named after Auschwitz.

From: Edie Bonferraro (edieb mailbug.com)
Subject: Quotation

Regarding the quotation, "We think caged birds sing, when indeed they cry" by John Webster (playwright, c. 1580-1634): Would it be too catty to suggest that Maya Angelou could have extended her book title to read: *I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Because John Webster Told Me So*; "Meow."

From: Anthony Floyd (anthony.floyd bigpond.com)
Subject: Nankeen

Nankeen as an adjective for the brownish colour is also used to identify two well-known Australian birds, the Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides) and the Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus). Nankeen indeed describes well the colour of the birds' plumage.

From: Cathy Boettger (glen.boettger shaw.ca)
Subject: gamboge
Def: 1. A strong yellow color. 2. A gum resin obtained from the sap of trees of the genus Garcinia, used as a yellow pigment and as a cathartic.

I work in a health food store and we are often asked for garcinia cambogia, a supplement that helps to regulate blood sugar.

From: Mike Botelho (meikka3 gmail.com)
Subject: solferino
Def: Purplish red color.

The word solferino instantly brought me back to June 2001 in Barcelonnette, France. The military unit I was assigned to was part of a pilot program which attended a French Mountain Warfare School. We were lucky enough to be paid to climb the snowy Alps and rappel down its cliffs. As part of the school's graduation ceremony, members of the French Foreign Legion described the battle of Solferino and its impact on Henry Dunant. The Legion further explained that troops passed through Barcelonnette on their way to Solferino. This small town in the South of France still holds an annual celebration in honor of Mr. Dunant.

From: Marge Simon (msimon6206 aol.com)
Subject: Solferino

I was so intrigued by the history of these color words that I wrote a haiku:

Magenta & Solferino

On battlefields
dyes from the dead

From: Alistair B Fraser (alistair fraser.cc)
Subject: officially taming nature

In your setup paragraph on October 11, you say: "autumn officially began". Why do so many people insert the word, official, when discussing seasonal changes? Clearly, the actual seasonal change has great geographic and annual variability. We apparently feel a need to impose order on this natural variability (using astronomical markers), and we do it with an appeal to officialdom. Of course, it is all nonsense: no official proclaimed this; no government legislated it. The use of the word, official, here seems to be nothing more than a linguistic device to imply that nature is more orderly than it is.

From: Kees Camfferman (ccamfferman feweb.vu.nl)
Subject: Dutch uncle

The often negative meaning of 'Dutch' in English expressions is something that is pointed out as a curiosity in English lessons in Dutch schools (it was, at least, when I went to school). As far as I am aware, there is no corresponding Dutch tradition of giving a consistently negative meaning to the adjective 'English'.

Vague and insignificant forms of speech, and abuse of language have so long passed for mysteries of science; and hard and misapplied words, with little or no meaning, have, by prescription, such a right to be mistaken for deep learning and height of speculation, that it will not be easy to persuade either those who speak or those who hear them, that they are but the covers of ignorance, and hindrance of true knowledge. -John Locke, philosopher (1632-1704)

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