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AWADmail Issue 50

September 30, 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: AWADnews

Latest issue of AWADnews is now available. It includes list demographics, stats (shortest, longest email addresses, etc.), newest countries on the list, and other regular features.

From: Stephen Bates (sbatesATacuent.com)
Subject: Re: another example for 'assuage'

Assuage is one of my favorite words, and I use it frequently in both oral and written communications. Below is another example from a letter from Abraham Lincoln.

Dear Madam:

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours very sincerely and respectfully,
Abraham Lincoln

November 21, 1864

From: Mim Bonn (mimbonnATearthlink.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--commiserate

I found this "usage" of the word commiserate in an on-line job posting:

"Our client is a well-established energy distribution company with an excellent salary and benefits package commiserate with experience."

Maybe that's not a job you'd want...

From: Norris Lacy (njl2ATpsu.edu)
Subject: sui generis

In AWADmail Issue 49 (September 23, 2001), Vicky Go writes about "sui generis," meaning, as she says, "unique, in a class by itself, peculiar. Maybe, even - the last of its breed." This reminded me of a newspaper story from a few years back--and I forget where it was published--about ultra-conservative (and consistently angry) radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh. The article described him as "sweet and generous," which certainly didn't sound like the Limbaugh one heard on the radio. Before long the newspaper in question published a correction: apparently the text had been dictated by its author, who had in fact said that Limbaugh was "sui generis."

From: Pierre Higonnet (galleoneATlibero.it)
Subject: in girum imus nocte et consumimur igni

in girum imus nocte et consumimur igni


(We circle in the night and (we are) devoured by fire)

can be read backwards .

From: Garth (garthATemirates.net.ae)
Subject: Thank You for the Latin help

I got so many very valuable responses to my request. I started to respond individually, but am hoping I can thank everyone through the next newsletter. I've settled on "caveat spectator" since it is easily identifiable and very similar to caveat emptor (let the buyer beware). I thank everyone for responding to my request and for the good wishes extended for our play. Incidentally, at least 30 AWAD readers responded with "caveat spectator", so I'm confident about my source. Thank you wonderful people for your help. Earlier I wrote: > I teach at a school and we're doing a play (student scripted) - It's a > spoof on television talk-shows. What we're looking for is a Latin motto > for 'Watch at your own peril'. Would any of our readers know this? > Thanks for any help forthcoming,

From: Jonathan Brusch (jonathan.bruschATaphis.usda.gov)
Subject: Annus horribilis

In response to the comment about the Queen's usage of "annus horribilis". I remember seeing videotape of that speech. She made a point of first mentioning that she had seen the phrase used by someone who had written to her. Therefore the credit for good usage really goes to the person who wrote the letter in the first place. (If I recall correctly, that was the year in which Charles & Diana either announced separation or divorce, and I think that year that there was bad news involving Prince Andrew, also.)

From: Charles Small (curmudgeon1ATsympatico.ca)
Subject: Zelig

This is a little late, but I just came across a story which beautifully illustrates the semi-ironic connection of the name Zelig with German/Yiddish "selig" meaning "blessed": Zeylig der M'shugener [crazy Zeylig] When Zeylig the town nut had his lucid moments, the people would ask him, "Zeylig! What made you so crazy?" To which he replied, "I believe that God in heaven sends down for each of us a little bundle. One gets a bundle full of nakhes [pleasures], another a bundle full of tsores [troubles]. For me, God sent a bundle of nakhes, but He dropped it on my head."

From: Singer Griffiths (jbghlsATearthlink.net)
Subject: News in Latin

Topically a little late, but very interesting--the above link will take those readers with interests in Latin to a news station in Finland that broadcasts the news in Latin.

From: Roni Yarnot-Krajeski (roniyarnotATearthlink.net)
Subject: Latin Week

Latin Week reminded me of a t-shirt I had made for my little brother, Vince, for his birthday:

Veni Vidi Vici Vinci
(I came, I saw, I conquered, I am Vincent)

And the one I gave his wife at their wedding:

Veni Vidi Vici Vinci Vifi
(I came, I saw, I conquered, I'm Vincent's Wife)

It's a good thing they both share my sense of humor!

From: Hugh Kelly (hughkellyAThotmail.com)
Subject: More Latin

In the aftermath of the attack on Sept. 11th, I am reminded of "Sic transit gloria mundi", the phrase uttered upon the installation of a new Pope to remind him that, amid all the pomp, the magnificence of worldly splendor can vanish in an instant.

Language is the apparel in which your thoughts parade in public. Never clothe them in vulgar and shoddy attire. -George W. Crane

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