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AWADmail Issue 446

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

You've Been Verbed
Intelligent Life

Land Where Ancient Greek Survives
The Idependent

The Elements of Clunk
The Chronicle of Higher Education

Book Lust Interview with Yours Truly
Seattle Channel

From: Tanvi Choudhary (tanvi_bubbles yahoo.co.in)
Subject: Theme: short words which are potent

I had once read these words somewhere as the 'Ten small words with the greatest meaning' -- "If it is to be, it is up to me." The moment I read the theme for this week, these words just struck me. They are small but potent, just like the theme.

From: Jeane Harris (jeaneharris61 yahoo.com)
Subject: maw
Def: 1. The mouth, throat, or stomach of an animal, especially a carnivore. 2. A gaping hole.

Growing up, chitterlings (hog intestines), were always served with hog maws (stomach) for extra flavor. Regardless of the folklore for reducing their odor -- add a whole peeled potato to the pot; completely remove the membrane; rub with cornmeal, then rinse with cold water before cooking; boil with a clove-studded onion-- nothing worked. The smell of them cooking made me gag. Imagine standing in an outhouse with a raw onion around your neck. My mother recognized that the pork she and my father ate in the rural south, from hogs their families raised and butchered on their farms for their own consumption, was too far removed from their children's experience in the urban Great Lakes region of the US. The pork we knew came from the grocery store, neatly packaged. On those rare occasions when she prepared offal (at my father's request when the weather was bitter cold), she also served spaghetti in tomato sauce as an alternative for our citified palates.

My mother's description of her father's annual hog sacrifice was relatively humane -- a bullet to the head while reciting the Cherokee blessing for killing the animal that will nourish your family -- and they used the whole hog. They rendered lard, they made sausage, cured ham, smoked bacon. It sounded like a tough, but noble way of life. Then I read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle in my 10th grade American History class. The scenes of animal slaughter evoked the smell of chitterlings and hog maws on the stove. That was more than three decades ago. I have been vegetarian ever since.

From: ShastriX (shastrix gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--maw

That reminded me of my kids checking out the maw of the tiger on the Kallada buses.

From: Jenny Hoops (jennyhoops nucleus.com)
Subject: Thought for Today - Edith Cavell

This Thought for Today was more poignant than many readers may realize. Edith Cavell, who is quoted saying she "must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone", was executed by German government during World War I, for having helped Allied soldiers escape from occupied Belgium to the Netherlands. Here in Alberta, Canada, we have named a mountain, and a hostel, after her. Mount Edith Cavell is in Jasper National Park, in the Rocky Mountains.

Email of the Week - (Brought to you by One Up! - The mind is a terrible thing to waste.)

From: John Alzamora (catalun aol.com)
Subject: Limn
Def: 1. To portray in words. 2. To draw or paint, especially in outline.

In Elizabethan England a limner was a miniaturist. In our Colonial and Federalist periods, limner was the name given to a portrait painter, often self-taught and itinerant and sometimes anonymous. A handful, however, acquired studio training and became quite famous and much in demand in their time, the most famous of which is perhaps Gilbert Stuart. See: Paintings from The Historic Hudson Valley Collection and What Is a Limner?, by S.E. Smith.

From: Dorothy S. Stewart (latinlogos att.net)
Subject: limn

My favorite use of the word is in Francis Thompson's poem, "The Hound of Heaven": Must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?

From: Margo Lynn H (mlh-theatre earthlink.net)
Subject: One more definition of kip
Def: a place to sleep; a bed; The hide of a young or small animal or a bundle of such hides; A unit of weight equal to 1000 lb (453.6 kg); The basic unit of currency in Laos.

Within the fiber world (spinners, dyers, knitters, crocheters) there is an additional definition of "KIP" as the acronym for "Knitting In Public". It is a verb, and people talk about "kipping" when they plan to be knitting at events, whilst standing in line (VERY handy for the post office!), and waiting for appointments, particularly medical ones. Unlike the persons around me, who are usually whining about the delay (or snarking about the perceived level of service), I can actually accomplish something!

From: Doug Ott (dott nada.org)
Subject: Kip

The word kip brought to mind my childhood days in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where I joined my junior high school's gymnastics team in 1974. The Kip, I learned, is one of the most basic moves in both women's and men's gymnastics. Of course, I wouldn't even entertain the thought of trying it today. (link)

From: Pat Woods (paradocs westnet.com.au)
Subject: Kip correction

In Australia, 'kip' also describes a small, oblong piece of wood used in the gambling game of 'two-up'.

The coins are placed on the kip, which is flipped in the air to spin the coins; betting takes place on which sides are uppermost when the coins fall -- both sides the same, or (called 'odds') one head and one tail.

The game in Australia, related to the older single-coin 'pitch and toss', dates back to the late 1700s and is strongly associated with first the gold rush days and, later, with World War One diggers.

Traditionally, the old penny coins are used, and many people still have old two-up sets with pennies (there's an inherited set, on my desk!). Two-up is traditionally played on ANZAC Day, and I recall seeing it played in parks on that day by returned soldiers after the memorial street parade; though the game was illegal, authorities ignored ANZAC Day players.

I haven't seen it played publicly in the last couple of decades, which doesn't mean it isn't still enjoyed.

From: Bruce W. Morlan (brucewmorlan gmail.com)
Subject: Kps as "kips"

Just an FYI. With respect to KIPS, the The Knoxville News Sentinel reporter quoted as saying "Indian Head, Anderson said, exerts 440 kips of pressure on the boulder." almost certainly transcribed a vocal comment using the term "kps" pronounced "kips". In this context it is an abbreviation for Kilo-pascals (a unit of pressure).

Just being geeky.

From: Robert Payne (dziga68 sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Beau Geste

There's a 1924 P.C. Wren adventure novel, Beau Geste, which still floats around this culture's collective subconscious (especially in its filmed versions) and probably remains the word's best-known use.

In the English novel, Beau Geste is the name of the heroic lead character. The French phrase "beau geste" also translates as "gracious gesture". But now that I know the word "geste" can also mean "notable adventures or exploits", this gives the novel's title another layer of meaning.

From: Christine Davis (christine.amd btinternet.com)
Subject: Dun
Def: verb tr.: To make persistent demands for payment, especially for a debt; noun: 1. Someone who duns; 2. A demand for payment. 3. A dull grayish brown color. 4. A horse in dun color; adjective: Of dun color.

Dun also means hill, hillfort, settlement, as in the placename of Dunblane, the town where I live. The root is Gaelic, and it is found throughout Scotland. One of the more curious usages is in Loudun Hill in Ayrshire, which uses three similar roots - Law, Dun and Hill, to name this outcrop of land as "Hillhill Hill"

From: John D. Laskowski (john.laskowski mothman.org)
Subject: Dun fishing dry flies

Dun is also used as the name for a type of fly fishing dry flies tied to mimic the wings of mayflies and caddisflies. The feathers and other materials used allow the dry flies to float on the water surface in the hope of luring trout to strike them.

From: Jason Conklin (jason.conklin gmail.com)
Subject: dun

This word brings me back to high-school age, when I first memorized a Shakespeare's Sonnet 130:

My mistress's eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

It was a formative moment and remains a fond memory. Thanks!

From: John Caden (johnjcaden gmail.com)
Subject: Dun

Origin unknown? You can't be serious. Maybe you are lucky enough to never have been on the receiving end of a phone call prefaced by those haunting words: Dun & Bradstreet.

A number of readers suggested that the origin of the term dun might be in the name of the company Dun & Bradstreet which provides information on businesses, credit reports, etc. It's easy to rule out this connection: first citation for the word "dun" is available from 1628, while D&B was founded more than 200 years later, in 1841.
-Anu Garg

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. -George Orwell, writer (1903-1950)

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