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AWADmail Issue 579

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

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

The Grammar Rules Behind Three Commonly Disparaged Dialects
The Week

Words and Actions: What Is the Connection Between Linguistic and Motor Functions?

From: Charles Carpenter (carpnews aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--auspices

Re: changing clothes. At my 20th high school reunion of the Class of 1961, I sat at a table with eight or ten people. After the dinner about 15 of us went to a classmate's home for more small talk. I asked one of the ladies there, "Who are you?" When she told me I realized that she had been one of the people at my table and we'd conversed all through the meal. The problem? She had changed clothes and looked 100% different.

Charles Carpenter, Waukegan, Illinois

From: Stephen Smith (auster3 gmail.com)
Subject: auspices

I have known this word auspices for a long time but a few years ago I noticed that the local civil service wanted to make a verb of it. Applications were sought in a newspaper ad for NGOs to "auspice" various government community service projects. I could see what was wrong with "oversee" or "supervise" but the contact officer would have none of it.

Stephen Smith, Sydney, Australia

From: Jeffrey Turner (jturner alum.rpi.edu)
Subject: auspices

The singular of auspices was one of my mother's favorite words, but she used it to refer to bad beer. I guess it's all in the pronunciation.

Jeffrey Turner, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

From: Eric Grosshans (uhclem frii.com)
Subject: Paparazzi

Some of my Catholic friends used this word as a nickname for Pope Benedict XVI. Papa=Pope and Ratzi was a diminutive of his last name, Ratzinger.

Eric Grosshans, Loveland, Colorado

From: Lois Sorkin (lrs50 juno.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--paparazzi

My husband and I were at the park with the grandkids, and he pulled out his iPhone and took some pictures. I remarked to a bystander, "Grandpa (pronounced grampa) is clearly one of the grampaparazzi."

Lois Sorkin, Lincolnwood, Illinois

From: Gretchen Copeland (gretchen.copeland email.edcc.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cognoscenti

A clearly inept interview by Fox News anchor Lauren Green of biblical scholar Reza Aslan about his new biography of Jesus has boosted sales of the book after the interview went viral on the Internet.

Let's call Mr. Aslan the cognoscenti and Ms. Green the acognoscenti (the prefix "a" meaning without).

Gretchen Copeland, Edmonds, Washington

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

Cicero's rhetorical exclamation in one of his Cataline orations, O tempora O mores, could be best rendered either as "Such times, such morals!" or, a little more freely, "It ain't like it used to be!" in both cases decrying the good old days when men were men, standing on guard for the Republic instead of conspiring to overthrow it. Maybe he was thinking of the Consul Marius and his defence of Rome against the Proconsul Sulla early in the first century BCE.

Cicero was an ardent opponent of both the First and the Second Triumvirate. Against the latter he harangued the Senate in his famous Philippics. Though Julius Caesar had pardoned him, he was caught in the lethal web of Mark Antony and Octavius's "black sentence and proscription".

Any assessment of Cicero's politics involves modern implications Was he a guardian of traditional republican virtues or a reactionary opponent of Rome's globalization of peace and prosperity?

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Colleen Weisz (colleenweisz aol.com)
Subject: mores

I have fond memories of my mother, half a century ago, exclaiming, "O tempora, o mores!" whenever some unacceptable new fad or style -- like shorter skirts -- would come up.

Colleen Weisz, Solon, Ohio

From: Robert Maxwell (rmax304823 yahoo.com)
Subject: Mores

It's probably not important but few had heard of this word before it was popularized in the work of William Graham Sumner, a sociologist at Yale. He drew a distinction between "mores", that govern ideas about right and wrong, and "folkways", the less important customs that tell us what's rude and what's polite. Kidnapping is a violation of the mores. Refusing to shake someone's hand violates the society's folkways.

Robert Maxwell, Deming, New Mexico

Email of the Week (Brought to you by One Up! -- Have yourself a s&y blast.)

From: Karl Siewert (yoyology gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--antipodes

Since reading Maphead by Ken Jennings and learning about the scarcity of true antipodes, it has become one of my life's goals to visit two antipodal points. My favorite options are Kergeulen Island and a spot on the US/Canadian border. Ideally, I would find a friend to visit the opposite point at the same time, and we could make an Earth sandwich.

Karl Siewert, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: Bill Tew (ah2Haah aol.com)
Subject: antipodes


1. Two places situated on the diametrically opposite sides of the earth.
2. The exact opposite of someone or something.
3. Australia and New Zealand.

Australia and New Zealand? Aren't they almost side by side, separated by a bit of water?

Bill Tew, Newport News, Virginia

Well, it's not that Australia and New Zealand are antipodes to each other. Rather, the two countries together are known as the antipodes, relative to Britain. It's a West-centric view of the world just as we also call Oz and NZ "down under".
And the two countries are not even antipodes to Britain (its antipodes are in the Pacific, south of NZ). Speaking of erroneous assumptions, see the term China syndrome.
-Anu Garg

From: John Ewen (john_ewen clear.net.nz)
Subject: Antipodes

UK people have difficulty in distinguishing Australian and New Zealand accents. Their usual diplomatic comment when first hearing us is, "You're from the Antipodes, I think."

John Ewen, Christchurch, New Zealand

From: Oliver Joyce (oliver quintessentially.com)
Subject: Antipodes

In the UK, antipodes can often be used to refer to Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa and antipodean to the people of those three countries.

Clearly whoever began this broadened definition was neither an etymologist nor a geographer!

Oliver Joyce, West End, London

From: Vinni Marie Dambrosio (vinnimarie aol.com)
Subject: plurals

Have you forgotten spaghetti and cannoli? I do often insist on saying un cannolo in a restaurant (!), and my grandmother always said spaghetto when testing a strand for done-ness.

Vinni Marie Dambrosio, New York, New York

From: Robert Copeland (rmc geneva.edu)
Subject: Words in Plural Form

My pet peeve in this department: biscotti. This is plural. But when I ask for one biscotto, the baristas always say, "Oh, one biscotti?"

Robert Copeland, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania

From: Harvey A. Leve (harveyaleve aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cognoscenti

Wonderful theme this week. I would send you a kudo if I could find one.

Harvey A. Leve, Bali, Indonesia

From: Dr. Andrea H. Jaber (andrea.jaber hccs.edu)
Subject: Words more commonly known in the plural

One of my late father's favorite jokes fits this week's subject perfectly! A very proper gentleman went into a local bar and said, "Bartender, if you please, I would like a martinus." The bartender of course replied, "Sir, don't you mean a martini?" "No, sir, if I had wanted more than one, I would have asked for them."

Dr. Andrea H. Jaber, Sugar Land, Texas

From: Elena Montesinos (parsifal simauria.net)
Subject: A thought for today

About the thought for today, Friday, "How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward. -Spanish proverb", I happen to be a Spaniard but I've just heard it in Mexico. Nevertheless, Miguel de Unamuno, Spanish teacher, philosopher, and writer, wrote: "El hombre es un animal esencial, fundamental, constitucional y radicalmente haragán" (Man is an essentially, basically, constitutionally and radically, a loafer).

Elena Montesinos, Madrid, Spain

From: Ted Polk (theodorpolk gmail.com)
Subject: Thought for the Day, 8/2/2013

Your thought for the day may be Spanish as well, but I remember my German-speaking mother often saying, "O wie schö'n ist's nichts zu tun, und nach dem Nichtstun auszuruhen!"

Ted Polk, Canoga Park, California

To know another language is to have a second soul. -Charlemagne, King of the Franks (742-814)

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