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AWADmail Issue 434

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

From: Allen Cosnow (marv78rpm aol.com)
Subject: Harlequin
Def: noun: A stock comic character, masked, and dressed in a diamond-patterned multicolored costume. noun: A clown. adjective: In varied colors.

There is a certain gene affecting coat color in dogs, which causes a mottled pattern overlying the basic color. In most breeds it is called merle, but the Great Dane breeders call it harlequin.

From: Ellen Blackstone (ellen 123imagine.net)
Subject: Harlequin is also a duck

Amazing coincidence that today's (10/18/10) BirdNote is about the Harlequin Duck! You can see where it gets its name.

From: Toni Giarnese (jtgiarnese sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Harlequin

These days, Harlequin is synonymous with romance, from traditional to se xy. The stock cover characters are harlequinesque -- a bit "comic", "masked" sometimes, and dressed, well -- mostly.

From: Alex Gerber (alexandergerbs gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--harlequin

I'm a long-time fan of comics and AWAD helped me see a long-overlooked gem in the Batman world. Because of the in-depth look into "harlequin", I now have a better understanding of the origins of the villainess Harley Quinn's name and nature. Some would laugh at my oversight, but at least I finally made the connection. Thank you for the help. Also, I think it's a beautiful, cyclical tie-in to the eponym theme.

Email of the Week - (Sponsored by One Up! - A mind game you'll want to play.)

From: Matt Male (male.matt gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--stentorian
Def: Loud and powerful.

"David Beckham's legendarily stentorian and commanding voice" -- an excellent example of British irony. (Beckham is infamous for his whiny Estuary English tones.)

From: Mike Brewer (mjbrewerdds cox.net)
Subject: stentorian

Having had two stents placed a few years ago, I find that they do not make me stentorian. Interestingly the word stent is also an eponym. Dr. Stent was an English dentist who invented an impression compound in the mid 1800s. This compound was later called Stent's impression compound and was used to hold human tissues in place after surgery.

From: Liam Proven (lproven gmail.com)
Subject: Stentor

The interesting thing about the organism Stentor is that it quite frequently eats rotifers, tiny but extremely tough multicellular invertebrates that share its preferred sort of habitat. This is a rare instance of a single-celled "animal" (I quote it as with unicells the terms "plant" and "animal" become rather vague) eating a multicellular one.

From: Al Waitz (riplips usa.net)
Subject: stentor

Many years ago as a graduate student at the U. of Illinois, I took an advanced course in Protozoology taught by John Corliss. Corliss was an expert on ciliated protozoa and had made several movies of protozoa taken through the microscope which he would narrate for the class. I still remember the one with Stentor and Corliss loudly commenting as Stentor appeared on the screen, "Enter Stentor, king of the ciliates."

From: Paul Fullmer (fullmer lvc.edu)
Subject: pharisaical
Def: Characterized by hypocritical self-righteousness.

I was sorry to note your description of the Pharisees as a group "noted for strict observance of rites and rituals [who] felt superior because of it." Such a description reinscribes prejudices expressed in the New Testament Gospels by members of an early splinter sect of Judaism now known as Christianity that don't necessarily reflect the historical situation.

From: Karl Siewert (ksiewer tulsalibrary.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--luddite
Def: One who opposes or avoids the use of new technology.

Some time ago, as a joke among friends, I created the Facebook Luddite Society. To join, send a SASE to:

Facebook Luddite Society
3625 N Cedar St
Scranton PA 32174

In two to six weeks you'll receive an application to be filled out in ink and returned. Once your application has been approved, expect to receive a blazer badge and complementary Facebook-by-mail packet within 90 days.

From: Mary Watson (mawats aol.com)
Subject: Luddites

I greatly enjoyed learning more of the origins of this word. Initially it grabbed my attention because I have a friend who is technophobic. She believes computers were spawned to torment her, refuses to believe they can be trusted, and is always amazed when I receive her emails intact. She has steadfastly proclaimed to me that the "newfangled" technology will eventually fail and then the world will return to the IBM Selectric -- which she owns, refuses to surrender, and claims will be the sole surviving piece of machinery of importance left in existence.

From: Dr Rick Rickards (docrick petalk.com)
Subject: Simony
Def: Profiting from holy things, especially buying and selling of holy positions and pardons.

It was H.L. Mencken who wrote that an honest clergical person was someone who had been out of theological school for more than five years and who hadn't yet been convicted of simony!

From: Candy (via Wordsmith Talk bulletin board)
Subject: simony

Remember a few years ago reports of pictures of Jesus appearing in breakfast foods. One man sought simony by posting a pancake for sale on eBay. He posted the 'Holy Pancake' with an opening bid of $500. The bidding reached $14,999.00 before the listing was removed. I'm not sure why it was removed but obviously there was interest in the product.

Now a manufacturer has hopped on the bandwagon and produced a pan that puts the image of Jesus right into food: jesuspan.com.

Now, call me cynical...but which came first, the hype about the pancake appearing and then the product from that idea or a good marketing ploy to sell a product?

From: Faldage (via Wordsmith Talk bulletin board)
Subject: Jesus pancake

Can you say pareidolia? Sure you can. My favorite was the one that was supposed to be the Virgin Mary on a piece of french toast or something like that. Looked like John Wilkes Booth, either that or Edgar Allan Poe.

From: Jeremy Squire (jeremysquire murexenv.com)
Subject: Loved this week's words

If you put all the words and definitions down on one page, a simple theme comes through.....Fox News?

From: Diane Rosenschein (diane rosenschein.com)
Subject: John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich

I happened to have been researching John Montagu yesterday, to write up as a spotlight for Answers.com's Answer of the Day. Some of the sources agree with you that Montagu came up with the sandwich to eat while he gambled, but many others gave him a more respectable reason: they said that he actually was a responsible and productive cabinet minister, who worked long hours at his desk. He preferred to eat his meat between two pieces of bread, both to save time and so his fingers would be less greasy. Either way, he definitely is given credit for popularizing the food that became known as the sandwich.

From: Mark Adler (adler adler.demon.co.uk)
Subject: The origin of sandwiches

Woody Allen once published an extract from the Earl of Sandwich's diary: "23 May: I think I'm close to a breakthrough; two slices of bread with meat on top."

From: Joan Grant (joankiaora gmail.com)
Subject: "official" beginning of autumn (Re: AWADmail 433)

Alistair Fraser asks about the use of "officially" as in "autumn officially began". This is a legitimate use in Australia, which legislated in its early days that the seasons began on the first of the month, so Autumn officially begins on March 1st (southern hemisphere) although of course in fact it begins on the 21st or 22nd, etc. Another peculiar feature of Down Under!

From: Jon Steeves (jon mootgame.com)
Subject: A language tool your audience might enjoy

Here's a link to something called the ODLT: The Online Dictionary of Language Terminology.

I created this tool to help me master this terminology, which it did somewhat. I'm guessing that others might also find it useful.

Modern prose has become, like modern manners and modern dress, a good deal less formal than it was in the nineteenth century. -James Runcieman Sutherland, professor and writer (1900-1996)

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