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AWADmail Issue 46

Sep 9, 2001

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

From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

US Contribution to the Oxford English Dictionary:

The A-M of Success:

From: Paul Berry (psberryATpacbell.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--liverish

This reminds of a riddling slogan of which (during my childhood in England) my father was particularly fond:

Is life worth living?
It all depends upon the liver.

From: Girish V (girishvATcisco.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--liverish

I found this meaning of liverish (Ill-natured, grouchy) particularly interesting, since many feelings that are traditionally attributed to the heart in Western literature are attributed to the liver in my native tongue (Malayalam). There are many songs in which the singer refers to his beloved as his "liver". In Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, when Mowgli is feeling sad, he feels funny in the stomach and not on his heart.

I'd be interested to know if there are any similar "cross-references" in other languages.

From: Donald Cooper (dcooperateATyahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--visceral

It was good to see visceral as the word of the day. It reminded me of an exchange I had with a friend a while back. I was venting about something and concluded by saying: "But I'm venting." My friend said, "Well, you were speaking from the heart". To which I replied, "Was it my heart or my viscera? People are always confusing their heart and their viscera. And vice viscera."

From: Paula Kleinfeld (polaricaATpacbell.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--adrenalize

My mother used to refer to her hormone replacement medication as "harmony pills."

From: Dave Kinder (dkinderATservomex.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--jugular

Reminds me of an old joke:

Q. How do you kill a circus?
A. Go straight for the juggler

From: Sally Boyson, MD (emailwithheldbyrequestATalum.mit.edu)
Subject: jugular; going for the carotid!

Re anatomic words. I am a physician (neurologist), and was reminded today about a common error in using the word jugular. I found my latest example this spring, in an otherwise terrific cat mystery: "Claws and Effect", by Rita Mae Brown. The victim died from a slash to the "jugular", causing blood to spurt onto the walls. Well, this cannot be (although he could still have exsanguinated from this)! The jugular is a vein, and even large veins do not spurt blood onto walls (veins are a low-pressure system, no matter how large).

What people really want when they say, "going for the jugular", or want blood on the walls, is the carotid artery! This is the (paired) large artery (high pressure system that spurts in time with the heart-beat) in the neck that delivers fresh blood to the brain, while the jugular returns it to the lungs/heart. It is next to the jugular vein. So, you can die from having either slashed, but it will be faster and more dramatic if your carotid artery is cut.

From: Michael Klossner (mklossneATarkstar.asl.lib.ar.us)
Subject: palindromic actor

A (fairly) well-known person whose full name is a palindrome is Robert Trebor, the comic actor who played Salmoneus in the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys And Xena: Warrior Princess series. His fan club is called Palindrome Pals.

The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order. -Jean Cocteau, writer, artist, and filmmaker

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