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AWADmail Issue 572

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

Sponsor's message: Calling all capitalists... for the last time! Introducing our completely original, fun and funny money game, ONEUPMANSHIP -- which the literate and lucky Email of the Week winner Robert Wasko (see below) will get hot off the presses. And as a sort of "insider deal", we're offering first dibs on the first edition of this Darwinian classic for 50% off to all AWADers, only until midnight tonight.

From: M Henri Day (mhenriday gmail.com)
Subject: canorous

Interesting to note that the name for the most common domesticated songbird, the canary, does not derive from this term, but rather from its provenance from Gran Canaria, in turn from the Latin name, Insula Canaria, from the island's population of large feral dogs, Latin canis.

M Henri Day, Stockholm, Sweden

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Prosaic

But beware: the word prosody (also derived from the same root) has nothing to do with prose. It is the science of versification (e.g. rhythmic meters), with some additional phonological and linguistic applications that are too esoteric to dilate upon.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Michael Tremberth (michaelt4two googlemail.com)
Subject: prosaic

Perhaps factual rather than fanciful?

Michael Tremberth, St Erth, Cornwall, UK

Email of the Week (Introducing ONEUPMANSHIP -- "Playing mind (and money) games is wicked fun."

From: Robert Wasko (rmwasko aol.com)
Subject: Expansive

The word expansive could also have been used last week as a word which appears to be a misspelling and could also have appeared two weeks ago in a definition with one letter changed, as in:

A legislative body with expansive powers
A legislative body with expensive powers

Robert Wasko, Brooklyn, New York

From: Paul H. Blaney (pblaney ehc.edu)
Subject: Expansive

In my experience, "expansive" is also a euphemism for "somewhat grandiose and manic".

Paul H. Blaney, Emory, Virginia

From: Pat Dalman (pmdalman aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--expansive

A hungry man is not a free man. -Adlai Stevenson, statesman (1900-1965)

I liked Adlai Stevenson. He was the US Ambassador when I went to the UN and he took us to lunch in the delegates' dining room. I also respected him as an honest person.

Les Mis shows how a hungry man cannot be honest, even though the theft was for his child and not himself.

Pat Dalman, Midland, Michigan

From: Carole Small-Diop (carolesmall hotmail.com)
Subject: Animadversion

Oh, drat! And here I thought it was a dislike of Japanese cartoons!

Carole Small-Diop, Dakar, Senegal

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Sempiternal

For the "everlasting" Post Office, see Robert Nathan's satire on archaeology in the November 1956 edition of Harper's Magazine (also available in pdf), wherein the thousand-year old ruins of Washington yield up a clue derived from the valuable inscription on the facade of the US Post Office. The clearly faulty grammar of the personal pronoun US is corrected by the scholars to WE who then go on to the assumption that the extinct inhabitants must have been called Weans, and their city of Washington was probably known as Pound Laundry, for who could wash a ton of laundry all at once?

As for a parallel of the Czech proverb, cf. King Lear, Act IV, Sc. 6: "The usurer hangs the cozener" i.e. the big fraudster sits in judgement over the-small time confidence man.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Richard Alexander (alexander triton.net)
Subject: sempiternal

When I saw "sempiternal" in my the Subject line, I immediately thought, "I'm sure I don't know this word, but it looks familiar. Weird." I quickly realized that as a choral singer, I knew the Latin word "sempiternam" from the Pie Jesu movement in many a composer's Requiem -- perhaps the best known being Gabriel Fauré's, where it's gorgeously scored for solo soprano with orchestra.

Here are my two favorite versions on YouTube: a faster one, sung by Kathleen Battle, and a slower one, by Barbara Bonney. And on disc, it would be worth seeking out the complete Fauré Requiem conducted by John Rutter, who composed perhaps the next best known Pie Jesu.

Richard Alexander, Grand Rapids, Michigan

From: Peirce Hammond (peirce_hammond ed.gov)
Subject: sempiternal

Today's word led me to wonder whether the definition "always eternal" was redundant. Could something be eternal without always being eternal. At first it did seem redundant. But, as I recall, in his book American Gods, Neil Gaiman plays with the idea that some gods -- those of olden times who no longer have worshippers or adherents of any sort -- are no longer really gods. So at least some of their eternal nature has slipped away and is not everlasting.

Peirce Hammond, Bethesda, Maryland

From: Raúl Cervantes Desouches (raulcervantesdesouches gmail.com)
Subject: words of the week

As an English teacher who writes material for students, I always look at words to teach from different angles. What caught my eye this week is that all these words would be easily understood by my students, who are Spanish speakers. They are not only cognates, but they are commonly used in everyday speech in Mexico.

Raúl Cervantes Desouches, Aguascalientes, Mexico

From: Lou Graziano (loumargemichael1 gmail.com)
Subject: AWAD and school

I teach at a university, government and politics. We start each class with AWAD and I encourage my students to subscribe. The word on the day of the final was petrified, and for those who did not study, the word fitted. Keep up the good work and I will continue to let you teach my students more words.

Lou Graziano, Chappaqua, New York

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go. -William Shakespeare, playwright and poet (1564-1616)

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