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AWADmail Issue 56

November 11, 2001

A Weekly 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: Interesting stories from the net

Them's Fightin' Words: War Lingo Rushes to the Front

From: Ankur Jain (ankurjainATvsnl.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--eminence grise

These people are easy enough to spot on the political scene in India. They are called remote controls by the Indian media, it's a popular enough term here.

From: Doris Sperber (nadoriATwebtv.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--eminence grise

In the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, there is a painting by Gerome, entitled "L'Eminance Grise". It shows du Trembley descending the grand staircase of Richelieux's palace, while all the courtiers bow to him. What has always puzzled me about the painting is that the Cardinal himself is there in his red vestments, and he too is bowing before the man in grey. I wonder why.

From: Jim Bailey (jimbATmandalay.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cunctator

You probably know that a somewhat learned synonym for "cunctator" would be "Fabian," after the Fabian Society created by Sydney and Beatrice Webb to advocate a gradual, evolutionary change to socialism (as opposed to rapid, revolutionary change). The Fabian Society was named for Fabius Maximus, the great Roman consul who used delaying tactics to defend Rome against Hannibal -- he was known as Fabius Maximus Cunctator.

From: Emilia Koptioug (emmiliamATyahoo.com)
Subject: cunctator in colloquial Russian

The (very elegant and stylish) word 'cunctator' reminded me of the colloquial Russian word for the same concept: 'tormoz', literally 'a car brake.' If you are 'braking' it means you are having trouble grasping the simplest ideas, or are simply doing something very stupid.

From: Nicoletta Pierce (nicoletta.pierceATrosepartnership.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--faineant

Readers of Sir Walter Scott's 'Ivanhoe' will recognise this word from the name of the mysterious knight in black armour who arrives at the tournament of Ashby-de-la-Zouche, and is nicknamed 'Le Noir Faineant' and turns out to be King Richard the Lionheart back from the Crusades incognito.

From: Dave (scaerATroanoke.edu)
Subject: Faineant

Love this word! I teach French language, civ and culture, and we have had to describe more than a few Bourbons with it. What a great expression: "Louis XIII, Roi faineant".

Here's another gem, also French, also exceedingly negative, also an expression built from one part conjugated verb and one part direct object: "Vaurien" (from "il ne vaut rien", "he is worth nothing"--I've also seen "riennevaulx" in Early-Modern literature), best translated as "scoundrel", "rogue", "riffraff". I have a good friend whose friends have nicknamed him "Rascal King", and who now signs his emails to me as "Roi des Riennevaulx". Magnifique, huh?

The finest words in the world are only vain sounds if you cannot understand them. -Anatole France, novelist, essayist, Nobel laureate (1844-1924)

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