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AWADmail Issue 540

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

From: Rinaldo Poli (rinaldo.poli lcc-toulouse.fr)
Subject: bidentate
Def: Having two teeth or toothlike parts.

The word has been used for decades in chemistry, to describe molecules that have the ability to bind a metal ion in coordination compounds via two binding sites. In the same spirit, the other words monodentate, tridentate, tetradentate, etc. are also commonly used.

Rinaldo Poli, Toulouse, France

From: Jafet Velez (iguaco juno.com)
Subject: bidentate

This word caught my attention immediately as it is the species name of a genus of tree from old growth forest in our island of Puerto Rico commonly known as ausubo (Manilkara bidentata). Thousands of years ago this was one of the most important trees, among several other species such as tabonuco (Dacryodes excelsa), for the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot (Amazona vittata) which is a cavity nester and the main reasons for being endangered is the scarcity of nesting cavities and the lack of old growth forest. Manilkara bidentata is a majestic tree, mainly growing now in the most humid parts of the island near the north coast. M. bidentata can grow over 5 feet (1.5 meters) in diameter, is an emergent tree, very precious for its wood but was even more precious because once was the "house" of one of the most beautiful amazon parrots in the neotropics.

Jafet Velez, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

From: Sherill Anderson (clintonsherill hotmail.com)
Subject: Mitty
Def: An ordinary, timid person who indulges in daydreams involving great adventures and triumphs.

By coincidence I have been rereading "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty". My favorite line is when Walter Mitty is a famous surgeon and the nurse shouts, "Coreopsis has set in!" [explanation]

Sherill Anderson, Seattle, Washington

From: Sam Peterson (s.peterson massey.ac.nz)
Subject: Re: Romney

We have about 20 million Romneys in New Zealand, but they don't get to vote; they are the major sheep breed here.

Sam Peterson, Palmerston North, New Zealand

From: Don Williams (don.williams park.edu)
Subject: Mitty

I love this story! I have been a high school teacher and college professor for more than 40 years. When I taught health-related classes, during the chapters on psychology, I always took a class session to read this story to the class as an example of someone suffering delusions of grandeur. We always had a good time with it and students seemed to appreciate the cross-curriculum aspect as we talked about Thurber as a Great American author.

Don Williams, Kansas City, Missouri

From: Barton Furse-Roberts (barfur43 gmail.com)
Subject: Barrack
Def: 1. To shout in support: to cheer. 2. To shout against: to jeer. 3. A building used to house soldiers. 4. To provide with accommodation.

The word barrack is one of the few words I know that when used as a verb has the opposite meaning in Australia to what I was taught it meant in the UK. It can lead to some interesting conversations. My own choice is that I use it to cheer rather than jeer.

Barton Furse-Roberts, Westleigh, Australia

From: Diana Waygood (ditreas iinet.net.au)
Subject: Barrack

The problem with quoting the Aussie version of the word as used in The Age, is that we pronounce it in a totally different way, it sounds more like "Ba-wreck", especially as we talk through our noses to prevent swallowing flies!

Thirty-seven years ago, I had been off the plane from England for all of four days when someone asked me, "So who do you barrack for?" what the person asking the question really wanted to know was, which Aussie Rules football team did I follow. 37 years later I still have to admit that I don't barrack for any of the footy teams... "hangs head in shame and walks off into the sunset."

Diana Waygood, Perth, Australia

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

From: John Burbidge (burbidge centurytel.net)

Subject: Barrack

As an Australian who lives in the US and enjoyed introducing Aussie Rules Football to my friends and neighbors, I have repeatedly had to explain that Down Under you "barrack" for your footy team, you don't "root" for it. "Root" in Australian parlance is another way of saying the F-word. Another reminder that we don't quite speak the same language we often purport to.

John Burbidge, Anacortes, Washington

The music that can deepest reach, / And cure all ill, is cordial speech. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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