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AWADmail Issue 456

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

From: Fadi E. (fadiegho hotmail.com)
Subject: Usufruct
Def: The right to use and enjoy another's property without destroying it.

So, would enjoying the Internet through your neighbour's unsecured Wi-Fi qualify as usufruct?

From: Jon Aalborg (jaalborg mac.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--usufruct

This seems similar in substance (not etymology or terminology) to the Scandinavian legal concept "allemannsrett", "every man's right".

The concept of "allemannsrett" has variations, but basically says that land which is not cultivated or within a set distance from inhabited buildings (in Norway, 150 metres or in direct line of sight) is by definition open to the public and is open for personal use to anyone. This is the case both for privately owned land and for public (state) land.

E.g., one is allowed to camp for up to two nights on land filling those conditions, provided the plot is left as it was on arrival and open fire is not used in the summer season. Picking berries, hiking, and other non-intrusive and non-damaging use of land and vegetation for personal use is included, as is non-profit fishing with personal tackle (subject to regulations).

As far as I know this is almost the inverse to the situation in, e.g., the UK, where most land by definition is owned by someone and off limits to the public unless otherwise explicitly stated.

"Usufructus" would seem to designate a (limited version of?) "every man's right" concept.

Jon Aalborg, Oslo, Norway

Email of the Week - (Sponsored by Smart Pills - The Perfect Cure for Stupidity.)

From: Angelika Dawson (ajdawson telus.net)
Subject: usufruct

This word made me think of my beloved son, who seems to understand the concept of usufruct rights well enough that I can go away for a weekend, knowing that he's throwing a poker party, and I'll come home to my house still standing.

Angelika Dawson, Abbotsford, BC, Canada

From: Eric N Smith (esmith11 tulane.edu)
Subject: usufruct

Here in Louisiana, we have our very own legal code, based on the Napoleonic Code. This is a leftover of the original Louisiana Purchase Agreement and the decisions of the first appointed American governor, W.C.C. Claiborne.

We see usufruct all of the time, because for us it is the right of the survivor to temporarily enjoy the use of the jointly held property. Once the survivor dies, then the usufruct right disappears and the surviving children or other inheritors can divide up the jointly held property.

Eric Smith, Clinical Professor of Finance, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana

From: Benjamin Hayes (bzhayes ucla.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--usufruct

This word brings back memories from my childhood. When I was young, my grandmother sold a plot of land she owned. My father was concerned because the land contained his favorite apple tree. The sale of the land went through with a clause on the deed giving members of my family open access to harvest apples from the tree.

Years later, relations between our families soured when the new land owner piled objects of his near the tree limiting our usufruct.

Ben Hayes, Redondo Beach, California

From: Jean Granoux (jean granoux.com)
Subject: perpetual usufruct

Perpetual usufruct mentioned in the usage example seems to me to be an oxymoron, as usufruct usually ends with the death of the usufruitier, as we say in French. I am not surprised to see such a concept emanate from a real(?) estate developer, located in Gombrowicz's country.

Jean Granoux, Villejuif, France

From: Margaret Dark (mdark telkomsa.net)
Subject: usufruct

My cat has the usufruct of my lap. The pleasure is mutual.

Margaret Dark, Merrivale, South Africa

From: Jean Ertel (jeanertel gmail.com)
Subject: Usufruct/Octogenarian

Thanks for this. I think this is a great word to use as a command. Perhaps I have just given you one of my books and in so doing I say, "Here, Mr. Garg, Usufruct." Not a common word in my daily chitchat so I really can't wait to use it. As an octogenarian, it is imperative to surprise young people on occasion. This should work.

In connection with my senior longevity, I think you might be amused by a phone call I had from a young man acting as a college adviser. He informed me I was on his list of students to advise. Knowing I was not registered at his college, I said, "I think there has been a mistake." "No," he cheerfully bounced back. "I have your name on my list." I persisted. "The reason I think you are mistaken is that I am an octogenarian." There was a slight pause. Then he said, "Oh, what's that?"

I should have offered him a gift subscription to Wordsmith.

Jeanette Ertel, Walnut Creek, California

From: Linda (stilshy73 aol.com)
Subject: Usufruct

Usufruct?! Seriously? Have you tried saying this aloud? I have a feeling you'd get shocked and offended looks for saying it. And now I've been offensive in suggesting it! :(

Linda, Lynnwood, Washington

From: Michael Poole (michaelpoole paradise.net.nz)
Subject: Bailiwick

The meaning "A person's area of expertise or interest" certainly is familiar, but I have actually lived in a royal bailiwick, Hemel Hempstead in the English county of Hertfordshire. The town was first given a charter by Henry VIII, but since he had a country house there, the town was actually his property, so the mayor was also his bailiff. Until the 1970s local government reorganisation, the mayor's formal title was "Mayor and Bailiff". The islands of Guernsey and Jersey remain royal bailiwicks to this day.

Michael Poole, Paraparaumu, New Zealand

From: Honour Horne-Jaruk (jarukcomp yahoo.com)
Subject: effulgent
Def: Shining brilliantly; radiant.

When my son was in the first grade, he was hustled off to the principal's office for "swearing at the teacher". Its being the first day of spring, she was wearing green tights, a purple skirt, and a yellow blouse. He told her she was refulgent. At the time, I championed his description fiercely. Perhaps he should have used effulgent?

Honour Horne-Jaruk, Wilton, New Hampshire

From: Pierre Berloquin (pierre berloquin.com)
Subject: Lapidary - lapidaire
Def: 1. Relating to precious stones or cutting and polishing them. 2. Having elegance, precision, or refinement suggestive of gem cutting.

Interestingly, "lapidaire" has a totally different meaning in French. It refers to cutting text in stone, on a tomb or a monument, where it must be short and to the point. Here, a lapidary style means a no nonsense, brief way of writing or talking.

Pierre Berloquin, Paris, France

From: Robert Schmaus (robert.schmaus web.de)
Subject: Re: lapidary

I just love this word. In German, the word "lapidar" is often used with a meaning it doesn't seem to have in English: To express something in a dry, matter-of-fact, and sometimes cynical way.

Robert Schmaus, Stuttgart, Germany

From: Hiller B. Zobel (honzobe aol.com)
Subject: Lapidary

"Lapidary" also refers to epitaphs. "In lapidary inscriptions", said Samuel Johnson, "a man is not upon oath." (Boswell, Life vol. I, p.589 (Everyman edition).

Hiller B. Zobel, Boston, Massachusetts

From: Nichole Bryant (savvynickel07 gmail.com)
Subject: Taradiddle
Def: 1. A petty lie. 2. Pretentious nonsense.

This word immediately brought out the band nerd in me. A paradiddle is the onomatopoeic term for a particular snare drum beat. It consists of four equal length notes and is played with either "left right left left" or RLRR and has the accent on the first stroke, so it sounds like the drum is saying "PAR-a-did-dle". Just an interesting connotation for me.

Nichole Bryant, Brookline, Massachusetts,

From: Jill Donovan (jill wagnerdonovan.com)
Subject: Emerson and Soil Bacteria

I have enjoyed A.Word.A.Day for several years now, not just for the words, but for the quotations with which you close each entry. Today's was particularly interesting to me:

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY: When I go into the garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

I live in a high-rise, and have missed having a yard. For the last several years, a group of us have started gardening in our local park, and all of us have noticed an elevation in our moods and health in much the same way that Emerson describes.

If you weren't already aware of the recent discoveries regarding exposure to "Mycobacterium vaccae" I thought you might find these links interesting: MSNBC, Good, Discover

Jill Donovan, Chicago, Illinois

From: Kevin Kreiger (kevin inspiritwriting.com)
Subject: subscriptions

I am NOT unsubscribing. You can't make me. My wife is long gone, my phone doesn't alert me to anything, and my mom has passed on (bless her soul). Words rule. Keep 'em coming!

Kevin Kreiger, Los Angeles, California

From: Qodrat Hassani (qhassani yahoo.com)
Subject: Thank you

I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for your contribution to my word stock. This year I will take a PhD exam. One requirement is our general English. As it is a stiff competition and only five persons will be qualified, my relatively rich vocabulary gives me a commanding lead over the other rivals. It's mostly because of you. Thank you.

By the way, today is the first day of the solar year 1390 in Iran. Happy new year and have a fun, creative, inspiring and, most importantly, healthy year ahead!

Ghodrat Hassani, Tehran, Iran

From: Marnye Langer (marnyelanger gmail.com)
Subject: Comments

I am sitting in the airport on Round Two of trying to get home -- our flight last night was canceled due to heavy weather at home (Burbank, CA) -- and while waiting for this morning's replacement flight, I popped open my laptop to peruse the morning's e-mail. Warn me next time you are going to make me laugh outloud right after taking a sip of my coffee! OMG! Everyone around me stared as I tried to stifle my laughter after reading your excerpts from the cancellation survey! I am not sure which one was the funniest, but if pushed I'd have to take the teenager one only because I have a 17-year-old son and that so could have been his email!

I love all the words you give us. I am a writer (published) and a huge fan of vocabulary and using interesting, but appropriate words. Thanks for all your hard work!

Modern English is the Wal-Mart of languages: convenient, huge, hard to avoid, superficially friendly, and devouring all rivals in its eagerness to expand. -Mark Abley, journalist (b. 1955)

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