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AWADmail Issue 554A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
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From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Our Gun-Obsessed Language Reveals Much About Us
Vocabulary Instruction Failing US Students, Expert Says
From: Barbara Youtz (sealoftm aol.com)
I believe our movies and TV shows of today reflect the shades of gray. How many times do you see the villain with a nice quality too. This has changed from those early cowboy movies I saw as a kid where the good guys all wore white hats and the bad ones wore black.
Barbara Youtz, Great Falls, Virginia
From: Peter Scriven (peter.scriven gmail.com)
There is a scene in the film 'Monsoon Wedding' by Mira Nair, when the precocious, 11-year-old daughter of the family confronts her uncle with her reading book asking what is the meaning of the word 'uxorious'. The uncle is confounded by the word, for a moment he stalls, visibly unable to answer (and then not to lose face) he explains that there is a typo and that the 'L' is missing from the word, that it should be luxurious. I know it is scripted but still, amusing use of relatively underused words.
Peter Scriven, Brisbane, Australia
From: John W. Cooper (jcooper stic.net)
Resounding words like "implacable" have a predilection to be the names of British Royal Navy ships. The most recent HMS Implacable was an aircraft carrier that served in the Pacific with her sister-ship Indefatigable in the last battles of World War II.
Earlier, there was the pre-Dreadnought battleship Implacable built in 1899, and her sister-ships Formidable and Irresistible. This ship was active in the Dardanelles campaign in World War I.
The Brits certainly love their resounding names as did the French. The first Implacable was a sailing ship-of the line. Originally the French Navy's Téméraire (bold) -- class ship Duguay-Trouin -- was launched in 1800 and captured by the British in 1805. René Duguay-Trouin was a very successful French corsair who named two of his warships Diligente and Railleuse (mocking, scoffing).
When the Royal Navy finally scuttled Implacable in 1949, she flew both the French and British flags side-by-side as she sank. Her figurehead and stern galleries were saved and are on display in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.
John W. Cooper, San Antonio, Texas
From: Kathy Sladek (sksladek hotmail.com)
Cantankerousness has been found to be a protective characteristic among the elderly. In a 1970s study in homes for the elderly, Dr. Morton A. Lieberman found that those who were ornery and argumentative with the nursing home staff lived longer than those who were not (link). As long as you can "make a fist", you haven't given up on life. So much for being a sweet little old lady!
Kathy Sladek, Corpus Christi, Texas
From: Richard Stallman (rms gnu.org)
Why can't you keep the ship from drifting?" asked the owner. The captain replied, "Some of the equipment is being cantankerous." (i.e, can't anchor us).
Dr Richard Stallman, President, Free Software Foundation, Boston, Massachusetts
From: Enita Torres (enitatorres gmail.com)
It dawned on me that pudere (to make or be ashamed) is also the root of the word pudenda (used most commonly to refer to the female external genital organs). Well, that just irks my feminist, word-loving self. For now on, I will refer to a woman's genitalia as impudenda.
Enita Torres, Houston, Texas
From: Noah Klein (noah4747 earthlink.net)
My professor of anatomy once solemnly pointed out the Latin names for the fingers: indicis (index finger), annularis (ring finger), minimus (pinky). And impudicus (middle), the shameless finger. The class was hysterical.
Noah Klein, Pocatello, Idaho
From: Jeb Raitt (jbrmm266 aol.com)
This word resonates very strongly with me. It was my parents' favorite criticism of me when I was not being meekly obedient as a child. Which, I will admit, was more often than it should've been.
Jeb Raitt, Norfolk, Virginia
From: Suse Kidder (kidders001 hawaii.rr.com)
Thank you so much for continuing this education I enjoy so much. My father first introduced me to your daily words I don't know how long ago. My father passed last year from Alzheimer's so there were many years when he could not enjoy your gift, but I continue to share and enjoy words daily. Thank you, from me and my dad, as well. Alohas!
Suse Kidder, Kealakekua, Hawaii
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:The words of some men are thrown forcibly against you and adhere like burrs. -Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)
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