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AWADmail Issue 468

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

Email of the Week - (Brought to you by One Up! - The Wicked/Smart Word Game.)

From: Ann Andrusyszyn (anna atlanticfilm.com)
Subject: etiolate
Def: 1. To make pale by preventing exposure to sunlight. 2. To make weak by stunting the growth of. 3. To become pale, weak, or stunted.

How wonderful -- a word describing the practice of growing spargel in Germany!

As a Canadian Air Force family we had two postings to Baden-Soellingen, which is located cheek by jowl with the village of Hügelsheim. Hügie, as we Canucks fondly called it, is also known as Spargeldorf (spargel village) and every Spring the area surrounding the village and the Base was a geometric vision with the long straight hummocks of spargel fields stretching as far as the eye could see. Twice a day we would see the crop being tended -- the pristine whiteness of this delicious vegetable was ensured through keeping it protected from sunlight by carefully building up the hummock wherever the spargel tips cracked the surface of the soil.

So now I can say the villagers were etiolating the spargel. (Or, technically, were they etiolating the asparagus to make it remain spargel? *hah*)

Ann Andrusyszyn, Barrie, Ontario, Canada

From: Mark Gottsegen (mdgottsegen earthlink.net)
Subject: lignify
Def: To convert into wood; To become wood or woody.

The word "lignify" was very neat to learn about as I have an abiding interest in lignin-containing papers. Astute artists and art conservators know that lignin is the source of the acidic deterioration of papers of all types. Once the deterioration begins it's impossible to reverse, although it can be arrested through various chemical applications. The best way to avoid the problem, of course, is to use rag papers (100% cotton or high-alpha cellulose) that are at least pH neutral and preferably buffered with an alkaline additive.

Mark Gottsegen, Chagrin Falls, Ohio

From: Victor Lund (vlund mahoney-law.com)
Subject: Lignify

The etymology of lignify brings to mind the Italian phrase, "col legno" or with the wood, familiar to orchestral musicians, signifying that the string players are to turn their bows over and hit the strings with the wood of the bow to produce a distinctively percussive sound.

Victor Lund, Minneapolis, Minnesota

From: Lorie Vallejo (loredith_joy yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: verbing of nouns

Here in the Philippines, my friends and I often complain about the warning against movie piracy (played before the start of every movie in all movie theatres) because of the use of the word "camcord" as a verb, as in "Do not attempt to camcord the movie." I guess that's easier than saying "Do not use an audiovisual recording device to make a copy of any part of the movie" or "Do not use a camcorder to make a copy of any part of the movie."

The warning is in accordance with the "Anti-Camcording Act" signed into law in 2009. I guess another reason why we dislike it so much is that we preferred the old warning that included the line "A pirate may be sitting beside you", to which, in reply, we promptly chorused "Arrr!!!", eliciting ripples of laughter from other movie-goers, especially children.

Lorie Vallejo, Manila, Philippines

From: Tossi Aaron (tossi juno.com)
Subject: verbing of nouns

Some TV cooking shows say, "... we can plate it ..."

Tossi Aaron, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania

From: Bill Farnsworth (agrsnq znet.net.au)
Subject: verbing

I read your emails every day. Wonderfully good for the soul, like great music (Beethoven's Violin Concerto, for example). Today's theme for the week is verbing nouns. My contribution: junior sports here in Innisfail, north Queensland Australia, have been a large part of my life as a parent of a growing male child who loves sport and gives everything a go (from cricket to soccer to rugby league).

I am quite proud of his efforts, but I was surprised and amused to hear some years back, that junior sports competitors (8-12 years of age) have successfully verbed a preposition. The term that they use for playing, or opposing a team from another club or town is 'versing'.

"Hey Nick [my son], which side are you playing next week?"
"We're versing Tully Tigers this week Dad [me]."
"Thanks, mate." (thinks - are you having a poetry contest?)

Bill Farnsworth, Innisfail, Australia

From: Rudy Rosenberg (rudyrr att.net)
Subject: Re: The magic of words

During WWII, from 1942 to 1944 I was hiding in Belgium, Brussels. The last 17 months were spent in a basement in a house of the capital. There was no reading material available except for a well worn copy of the French Larousse dictionary. I perused it valiantly; each word sending me on a chase for a new one. Although I was not allowed to go to school from the age of 12 to almost 14 the Larousse enriched my vocabulary day after day. Yes, indeed: The magic of words!

Thank you for making it richer with each passing day.

Rudy Rosenberg, Westbury, New York

Languages, like our bodies, are in a perpetual flux, and stand in need of recruits to supply those words that are continually falling through disuse. -Cornelius Conway Felton, educator (1807-1862)

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