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AWADmail Issue 498

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

Learn a Language, Translate the Web
New Scientist

Everyone Speaks Text Message
The New York Times

From: Bruce Reaves (reavesb earthlink.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--duopsony
Def: A market condition in which there are only two buyers, thus exerting great influence on price.

At first glance I figured that duopsony would refer to a Walkman that played only doo-wop music!

Bruce Reaves, Graham, North Carolina

From: David Skulski (david.skulski gmail.com)
Subject: hypochondriac
Def: One who is excessively and chronically preoccupied with imaginary or innocuous symptoms as indicators of some serious disease.

The rise of the Internet has given birth to a newer version of this attribute: someone who is convinced by what they read online that they are sick are cyberchondriacs.

David Skulski, Vancouver, Canada

From: Rudy Rosenberg Sr (RRosenbergSr accuratechemical.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hypochondriac

Your description of hypochondriac immediately brought to mind Danny Kaye's Up in Arms, a perfect example!

Rudy Rosenberg Sr., Westbury, New York

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Hypochondriac

That one is a hypochondriac doesn't mean one cannot fall prey to the imagined malady, as witness the unfortunate fate of the author of The Imaginary Invalid. Moliere died while playing the role of Argan, the quintessential hypochondriac in Le Malade imaginaire.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Nancy Parker (carminaburana centurylink.net)
Subject: hypochondriac

This word is also used exactly as its etymology indicates, in medicine, to designate the area under the breastbone, as in "hypochondriac pain" when discussing symptoms of stomach or gallbladder dysfunction.

Nancy Parker, Middleton, Idaho

From: Davi-Ellen Chabner (meddavi me.com)
Subject: Hypochondriac

The explanation for the connection between the anatomical term, hypochondriac, meaning the two upper lateral regions of the abdominopelvic area and the pathological term, hypochondriac, referring to a person who complains of internal bodily pains, is that the Greeks mistakenly thought illness arose from the liver (in the right hypochondrium) and in the spleen (in the left hypochondriac area). Hence they used the term hypochondriac to refer to a person often complaining of bodily illness.

Davi-Ellen Chabner, Newton, Massachusetts
Author, The Language of Medicine, 9th edition

From: David Steiner (davidesteiner gmail.com)
Subject: Hypochondriac

I learned this word at my father's knee when he said: "Do you know what it said on the hypochondriac's tombstone? 'I told you I was sick!'"

David Steiner, Thornton, Colorado

From: Michael Tremberth (michaelt4two googlemail.com)
Subject: Autologous
Def: Involving a situation in which the donor and the recipient (of blood, skin, bone, etc.) are the same person.

As the fortunate recipient of a donated kidney three years ago I was interested to learn recently that the first successful kidney transplant was between identical twins. Because of their genetic identity (entailing no rejection problems) this was practically an autologous transplant.

PS. After a few teething problems the kidney's doing well in its new host.

Michael Tremberth, Cornwall, UK

Email of the Week (Brought to you by The Official Uppity Handbook -- A Man-Up Manual for Smart Alecks.

From: Joan Perrin (perrinjoan aol.com)
Subject: autologous

After my double mastectomy six years ago for cancer, I had reconstruction. My plastic surgeon used the skin from my inner thighs to create new areolas, and she used skin from my toes to fashion new nipples. I was relieved to discover that this autologous surgery didn't result in athlete's chest.

Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York

From: Markus Jahn (mail platypus-translations.de)
Subject: gerontology
Def: The scientific study of aging.

This word reminded me of the nickname the south-east coast of England (the area around Southend-on-Sea and Brighton) enjoys: Costa Geriatrica.

This name refers to the fact that many well-to-do Londoners decide to spend the last years of their lives in a nice spot on the coast, but still not too far from the capital.

Markus Jahn, Berlin, Germany

From: Cheryl Cantrell (cheryldcantrell cox.net)
Subject: Re: Gerontology

The author quoted in the usage example should have written "Emma had been in a Geriatrics ward..." Geriatrics is the study or treatment of people with pathologies associated with aging. A gerontology ward would not benefit a hospital financially, as gerontology tends to be the study of normal aging, differentiating it from geriatrics.

Cheryl Cantrell, Gerontologist, Fort Smith, Arkansas

From: Charles Macknee (macpics11 hotmail.com)
Subject: gerontology

Dr. Margaret Cruikshank, a leader in what's termed "feminist gerontology", argued in 2002 that the word should more properly be gerastology, since the prefix "geron" actually applies to an old man, and given that older women outnumber older men by about 3:1, it is only proper that we use a prefix that reflects this feminine majority: Hence "geras" (old women).

Further, I'd define geriatrics as the biomedical treatment of older persons, and gerontology as the study of ALL aspects of aging, including the social or cultural history of same. As such, it may be the most interdisciplinary of all subjects of higher education.

Charles Macknee, Portland, Oregon

Language is not an abstract construction of the learned, or of dictionary makers, but is something arising out of the work, needs, ties, joys, affections, tastes, of long generations of humanity, and has its bases broad and low, close to the ground. -Noah Webster, lexicographer (1758-1843)

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