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AWADmail Issue 478

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

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

That Ugly Americanism? It May Well Be British.
The Web of Language

With the Dakota Language on Life Support, A Resurgence Among Native Youth

Are There Hidden Messages in Pronouns?
The Slate

From: LukeJavan8 (via Wordsmith Talk bulletin board)
Subject: parvenu
Def: One who has newly acquired wealth or status, but has not yet gained acceptance by others in that class.

After 1960, Omaha city experienced rapid growth. Once known for the world's largest stockyards, they were closed, as meat was processed more and more where the cattle were. People moved out in droves to suburbs, and many people became the "newly rich". Yet the rich here for generations were less inclined to accept them on equal terms. The area of the city where I live was a cornfield when I was in high school, and it rapidly became the center of the city, which has since moved farther west by miles. I remember many discussions and newspaper articles about this so it is very interesting to me.

LukeJavan8, Omaha, Nebraska

From: Nathan Ginsbury (nathan nr-ginsbury.com)
Subject: nubile
Def: 1. Sexually attractive (referring to a young woman). 2. Ready or suitable for marriage (referring to a young woman).

Thank you for the definition (2) of nubile.

The text of the verse in Isaiah 7:14 is commonly mistranslated as "A virgin shall conceive and ..." The original Hebrew rendered as "virgin" actually means "young woman of marriageable age but not yet married", without reference to her virginity (or otherwise).

The mistranslation is usually attributed to the lack of a suitable word in Greek/Latin and hence into English.

A better translation might, therefore, be "nubile young woman".

Nathan Ginsbury, Netanya, Israel

From: Robert Wilson (robwilsonit yahoo.it)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--nubile

The Italian word for an unmarried lady is nubile, though this is no longer politically correct on ID cards, where they now write libera (free).

Robert Wilson, Pordenone, Italy

Email of the Week - (Sponsored by The One Up! Cup - Do you love words, and showing how smart you are?)

From: Candy (via Wordsmith Talk bulletin board)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mountebank
Def: An unscrupulous pretender; a quack.

You might need a chair for this procedure...

When searching Mountebank I came across this Italian masterpiece, for sale at Christie's: A Mountebank Dentist.

It has an inscription 'Il mondo tondo... Chi non fa navigar va al fondo' [The world is round, those who cannot float sink to the bottom] in the upper left.

Candy, Queensland, Australia

From: Edie Bonferraro (edieb mailbug.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mountebank

Mountebank, CT was where the bigots lived in the movie, Auntie Mame.

Edie Bonferraro, Rochester, New York

From: Rudy Rosenberg Sr (RRosenbergSr accuratechemical.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--penurious
Def: 1. Extremely poor. 2. Extremely frugal or stingy.

There was this young girl in Beverly Hills telling a friend about a family that was really penurious:

They were so poor,
Their chauffeur was poor
Their maid was poor
Their cook was poor
Everyone was poor!

Rudy Rosenberg Sr., Westbury, New York

From: Susan Blake (myblakesregistry gmail.com)
Subject: Thank you

When my son was in school (1980s) I would have him do dictionary work (Webster's Unabridged) after homework. Pick three words at random, read and write out the descriptions, phonetics, all of it... then three more chosen from each of the first three. He has a wonderful vocabulary, and knows how to use it. When A.Word.A.Day appeared on my computer, I immediately sent the link to my son for his two boys to start using (8 and 5), never too young to start! Grazie mille!

And a silly sort of made up word can be very effective, ie: Warmderful, the knitted garments made of donated yarn for the less fortunate in life.

Susan Blake, Napa, California

English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment, and education -- sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. -E.B. White, writer (1899-1985)

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