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AWADmail Issue 557

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

Our sponsor's message:
Are you a world-class bon (mot) vivant, like this week's Email of the Week winner Dominique Mellinger (see below) is bound to be? Luckily we're extending our sure cure for cabin-fever boredom sale -- One Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Word Game -- until MIDNIGHT TONIGHT. A real steal at $15; how about 2 for $25, including free shipping*? Hurry hurry up up!

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Language Experts Launch Campaign to Save the Diacritical Marks of Polish
The Washington Post

Geneticists Estimate Publication Date Of The Iliad
Inside Science

Email of the Week (Brought to you by One Up! -- Not for poseurs, pikers, charlatans, or peasants.)

From: Dominique Mellinger (dominiquemellinger yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: Family and State are homologous

"Hobbes argues that the family constitutes a structure homologous to the state."

This fact struck me on a camping holiday when we parents cooked some delicious ratatouille (or so we believed) with vegetables bought from the local farm market to our four children. They had their little table and chairs and they liked to sit on their own and have their meals while we parents would be just a few meters away, so they sent the youngest of them, Eléonore, who must have been 4, in delegation to our table and she said with the required gravity for a political declaration of gastronomical war: "Mummy, Daddy, your four children dislike ratatouille." (Papa, Maman, vos quatre enfants n'aiment PAS la ratatouille.) The majority had voted. There was no possibility of appeal. She went back to her seat, dignified, and they all waited for something else to eat that we had to provide and that would be subject to their approval.

Dominique Mellinger, Gorze, France

From: Alan Etherington (alan-e ntlworld.com)
Subject: Homologous

In Organic Chemistry, compounds sit in their own happy families, alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, and so on, starting at C1 usually, and can go up to several thousands. These families, which simplify life for the chemist, are called homologous series. The alkanes start with one carbon atom and that alkane is called methane, the one with two carbon atoms is ethane, and so on, lists of names are available. They usually display similar properties but as the number of carbon atoms increases the activity tends to slow down. Compare, for example, the burning properties of methane and petroleum jelly, both of which are in the same homologous series, the alkanes.

Alan Etherington, Billingham, UK

From: Michael Barr (barr math.mcgill.ca)
Subject: homologous

The word homologous is also used in topology to express a degree of similarity even less than that of topological equivalence. Many people know that a coffee cup is topologically equivalent to a donut, but less well known is that a cylinder, a moebius strip, and a circle are all homologous. Basically, they have the same kind of connectivity.

Michael Barr, Montreal, Canada

From: Marc Chelemer (Mchelemer att.com)
Subject: homologous / homologate

When I saw today's word, I wondered if it had the same origins as homologate, which I remembered as a word some years back. It turns out that the two words in English have no common ancestor at all, despite having the first seven letters identical! So, unlike the "homologous" items in your example, which have a common origin, generally similar appearance (long narrow object protruding from the body) but different functions, these two words have different origins, a common APPEARANCE, and different meaning.

Marc Chelemer, Tenafly, New Jersey

From: Leo Blanes (leo.blanes verizon.net)
Subject: Hagiarchy

I first learned of hagiarchy many years ago in college. I was reading Frank Herbert's Dune. One of the protagonist groups is the Bene Gesserit. A group of religious, mystic women who scheme to bring their generation's long plans to fruition. They were led by a group of older experienced women who in my youth I visualized as old crones. To me they were a hagiarchy both literally (a group of hags) and by definition. In keeping with the spirit of last week's words and in memory of my high school teachers I have always called them by the eggcorn, The Bene Jesuits. They've also done some generational behind-the-scenes plotting in their own right.

Leo Blanes, Cranford, New Jersey

From: Hope Bucher (hopebucher gmail.com)
Subject: Archetype

One of the most memorable and heartfelt compliments I have ever received came from my husband of 42 years. When I told him that my long-time beautician suggested changing my appearance with an extremely short and wild haircut, my husband replied, in disgust, "Doesn't he know by now that you are the Classic Woman -- the Archetype?" Paraphrasing the words of John Milton, "Those moments change forever how we experience life and the world."

Hope Bucher, Naperville, Illinois

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

Archetype: Papal secretary?

Rudy Rosenberg Sr., Westbury, New York

From: Robert Maxwell (rmax304823 yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dactylography

The first scientist who recognized the significance of fingerprints was the anthropologist, Sir Francis Galton, Darwin's cousin. They supplanted the system of measurement developed by Alphonse Bertillon, which used variables like "length of forearm" to identify criminals. Bertillon also invented the mug shot.

Robert Maxwell, Deming, New Mexico

From: Catherine Bolton (translations bolton.it)
Subject: Dactylography

Interestingly enough, the Italian word "dattilografia", combining the very same forms, means typing, typewriting: writing with your fingers!

Catherine Bolton, Bastia Umbra, Italy

From: Dr. Alexis Melteff (alanmeredith42 hotmail.com)
Subject: dactylography

In French, dactylographie is the process of writing with the use of a machine, i.e., typing; fingerprinting is dactyloscopie.

Dr. Alexis Melteff, Santa Rosa, California

From: Julio Miranda (mbjules gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dactylography

In Spanish exists the word "dactilografía", which means "to write with a typewriter". It appears that one meaning is "writing on the finger", and the other is "writing with the finger".

Julio Miranda, Sherwood Park, Canada

From: Goran Butorac (frenki gmail.com)
Subject: dactylogaphy

In Serbo-Croatian it means "typewriting". A "daktilograf" is a typist.

Goran Butorac, Detroit, Michigan

From: Nicholas Apostolakis (nikos udel.edu)
Subject: dactylogaphy

In modern Greek "dactylographos" is a typist.

Nicholas Apostolakis, Wilmington, Delaware

Winner of a signed copy of the book A Word A Day for the month of Feb for sending gift subscriptions

From: Sue Overman-Green (overmangreen gmail.com)
subject: gift subscriptions

I have enjoyed A.Word.A.Day for a few years now. Occasionally I told someone about it, and forwarded a sample, and let them sign up. When I was given the opportunity to send invitations, I thought of a lot of people who might enjoy it, so sent it to almost everyone in my address book.

I have gotten lots of responses. A lot of people wrote to make sure it was legit before they opened it up. It is too bad we have to be so careful these days, but it is a fact. Once I assured them, they were fine, and liked the idea. I haven't heard anything but praise. Thanks so much for this opportunity.

Sue Overman, Morgantown, West Virginia

For every language that becomes extinct, an image of man disappears. -Octavio Paz, poet, diplomat, Nobel laureate (1914-1998)

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