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AWADmail Issue 539

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

English Where She is Spoke
The Economist

Speed-Learning a New Language May Help Brain Grow: Study
U.S.News & World

Twitter Map of London's Linguistic Diversity
Spatial Analysis

From: Carmen Tipling (ctipling flowja.com)
Subject: Predial
Def: Of or relating to land, farming, etc.

In Jamaica, the word praedial is frequently used in relation to farms and farming. In fact, the term "praedial larceny" is used to refer to the act of stealing produce from farms.

Carmen Tipling, Kingston, Jamaica

From: Gregory B. Gregory (gregorgb sbcglobal.net)
Subject: sweetbread

I think Ogden Nash said it best:

This sweetbread gazing up at me
Is not what it purports to be
Says Webster's in one paragraph
"It is the pancreas of a calf."
Since it's neither sweet nor bread
I think I'll take a bun instead.

Gregory B. Gregory, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

From: Perry Saunders (xsoundx hotmail.com)
Subject: von Goethe quotation

"Where the light is brightest, the shadows are deepest." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet, dramatist, novelist, and philosopher (1749-1832)

This thought for today instantly reminded me of the one below.

"Rupert Thorne: All men have something to hide. The brighter the picture, the darker the negative."
(Batman TV series, 1992)

Perry Saunders, Austin, Texas

From: Dan Hoffman (guayiya bellsouth.net)
Subject: Guinea Pigs

There's a delightful little book titled Pigs Is Pigs, in which a postmaster insists that guinea pigs ARE pigs, and assesses a shipment duty accordingly. During the ensuing dispute, they multiply rapidly.

Dan Hoffman, Charlotte, North Carolina

From: Michael Calascione (mishca onvol.net)
Subject: misleading names

Re today's "guinea pig, not a pig and not from Guinea..." How about the Holy Roman Empire? Said to be neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.

Michael Calascione, Valletta, Malta

From: Babette Bedell (bbedell nc.rr.com)
Subject: hibernian
Def: adjective: Of or relating to Ireland; noun: A native or inhabitant of Ireland.

I aways chuckle when I hear this word. My mother was from Ireland and joined "The Ancient Order of Hibernians" later in her life as did many other Hiberians in her chapter. My father used to tease her and say 'there ain't no spring chickens' in mom's group. She'd get mad and he laughed and laughed.

Babette Bedell, Raleigh, North Carolina

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Histrionics
Def: 1. Melodramatic or hysterical behavior calculated for effect. 2. Theatrical performances.

Histrionics may be thought by many to be related to hysteria; the latter, however, has nothing to do with acting. It is a derivation from the Greek name of the female reproductive organ (cf. hysterectomy), based on the belief that the condition was gender specific, until Freud and his followers proved that hysteria could be as much a masculine as a feminine attribute.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Margot McCamley (moondreams_moondreams yahoo.com.au)
Subject: histrionics

Histrionics - now hissy fit.

Margot McCamley, Bongaree, Australia

From: Victor Rangel-Ribeiro (vrangelrib aol.com)
Subject: quotation on marriage (Re: blousy)

Thank you for sparking my interest in new words each day, but most particularly for today's Thought. I fell in love with my future wife at first sight, and at a distance, when she was still sixteen, and I was eight years older.

I got to know her family, and wooed her for four years before she finally said yes. We were married in 1954 and two years later moved to New York. When fate hit her hard, she morphed into a princess as the beloved principal of the UN International School. Wonderful! Then calamity struck, in the form of an illness for which there is no known cure. Those last two years were the closest we have ever been. There was no thought of a nursing home.

Last Sep 1, she died peacefully in her bed, with me at her side, just two weeks short of our 57th anniversary. "In sickness and in health" may sound like a formula, but it should never be an empty promise.

Victor Rangel-Ribeiro, Monroe Township, New Jersey

Email of the Week -- (Brought to you by Oneupmanship -- Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a real loser.)

From: John W. Cooper (jcooper stic.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--redoubtable
Def: Arousing fear or awe; evoking respect or honor.

With its resounding sound and meaning, Redoubtable, is a favorite name for warships:

In the British Royal Navy: a third-rate ship of the line launched in 1815 and broken up in 1841; the pre-dreadnought battleship HMS Revenge, renamed in 1915 as Redoubtable and scrapped in 1919.

At least eleven vessels of the French Navy have borne the name Redoutable ("Redoubtable").

And in fiction "as the Federation Starfleet starship that saw service during the 24th century. The Redoubtable was part of the Fifth Fleet and took part in the Battle of Guyra. During the battle the ship was disabled and abandoned by the crew. It was then scuttled to prevent it from falling into enemy hands." (Star Trek Swiftfire Wiki)

John Cooper, San Antonio, Texas

From: Jenni Blaisure (luvpumpkns hotmail.com)
Subject: redoubtable

This word made me think of the following: "The formerly redoubtable army will undoubtedly withdraw to their redoubt" and reminded me once again how much fun English can be.

Jennifer Blaisure, Aiken, South Carolina

From: Eric Shackle (ericshackle bigpond.com)
Subject: redoubtable

Redoubtable fits New Zealand's Max Cryer to a T. Probably the best-known kiwi, he's a TV producer, broadcaster, singer, cabaret performer, and author. He has written a book about origins of popular phrases. For more, see my blog.

Eric Shackle, Sydney, Australia

Time changes all things: there is no reason why language should escape this universal law. -Ferdinand de Saussure, linguist (1857-1913)

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