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AWADmail Issue 58

November 25, 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: AWADnews; interesting stories from the net

Latest issue of AWADnews is now available. It includes list demographics, stats (shortest, longest email addresses, etc.), newest countries on the list, and other regular features.

From: Melissa Baxter (melissa.baxterATspectrum-health.org)
Subject: Find-and-replace

In this week's introduction, an article was mentioned where a company was "running in the African American." It reminded me of something I noticed in a medical chart once. A doctor dictated a note regarding a patient's hearing loss. Due to an automatic find-and-replace function on the transcriptionist's computer, the typed note read in part "if hearing loss increases, this patient may want to consider hearing Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome."

From: Steven Stine (steven_stineATkleinschmidt.com)
Subject: Back in the African American

I found the story about back in the African American. It is even more interesting than I had remembered. It actually happened in 1990. It turns out it was NOT a case of a spell-checker gone awry.

From: Jan Henry (jan.henryATcwc.ac.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--monestrous

Is this going to be one of those words that doesn't cross the pond successfully? (A genuine question as I'm not sure). In the UK we spell that cycle as "oestrous". This particular pain in the spellcheck hit me when I had to write up an experiment on the "oestrogen response element" for which the accepted abbreviation is ERE (rather than ORE), due to the original namers being American.

From: Hazel Campbell (hazcamATcwjamaica.com)
Subject: passible

The most passible person the world has known has to be the princess in the story of the Princess and the Pea (Hans Christian Andersen - 1835). A pea was placed at the base of her bed and on it was placed 20 mattresses and on top of those 20 feather (eiderdown) beds. Asked how she slept, she replied "I was lying on something hard so that I am black and blue all over my body".

PS. The pea is in a museum if no one has stolen it -- so the story says.

From: Inez J Fletcher (ifletcherATnli.ie)
Subject: Re: Search and replace

The author of a book on Irish set-dancing (similar to square-dancing) used the terms Lady/Ladies and Gent/Gents when describing who moves where and when. The publishers decided that this was not politically correct and changed all occurrences to Man/Men and Woman/Women. The author returned the proofs with the request that the original terms be reinstated, as readers would not be happy with these politically correct terms which were never used in teaching or calling dances. When the book appeared it included the sentence "gent has always liked to dance" and a well-known band leader Sean Norman had become "Sean Norgent"!

When I came across the following in the introduction on p.8 - "Note: I have used the terms 'lady' and 'gent' throughout, as these terms are standard in set dancing and old-time dancing" - my suspicions were aroused. I decided to read carefully and found the first blunder quoted or something similar.

When I met the author a few months later, he himself drew my attention to "Norgent" (p. 51). He had to go through the whole book with a fine toothed comb, before it was reprinted with corrections. Sean Norman - a very jolly man, who positively beams with delight as he plays his accordion - was highly amused at his name-change.

P.17 "The Celts were also sun-worshippers. This is believed to date back to early gent's realisation of his dependence on its heat, light and life-giving properties for his very survival."

P.22 "O'Neill describes an account of French contredanse in a gentlegent's magazine in 1785, where the writer concludes that it and the Irish rinnce fada were similar when introduced to England."

P.51 "In the wake of the present set dancing revival there are new bands being formed all the time ...In recent years we have seen the arrival of Templehouse, Gold Ring ... among others. These along with Fodla, Siamsa, ...Sean Norgent's Band and Matt Cunningham ensure that the movement continues to grow."

The book is the first printing of Toss the feathers : Irish set dancing / by Pat Murphy. Cork : Mercier Press, 1995.

From: Martha Boyd (maboyd5ATaol.com)
Subject: Re: spell check

I have always been tickled that spell check recommends I replace my name with "mirth body" and have often been tempted to do so!

From: Tony (kcarkATswbell.net)
Subject: Spell Check near disaster

The spell check story reminded me of a contract that our negotiators were making with a company called GeoItalia to acquire seismic data.

They ran the final spell check and prepared to send it out. Fortunately, one of our eagle-eyed attorneys realized, before it went to signature, that all instances of GeoItalia had been changed to genitalia. I hate it when that happens.

From: Frederica Mathewes-Green (gmamafredATaol.com)
Subject: search and ye shall replace

A priest I know had entered the funeral service in his computer, so the secretary could "search and replace" the name of the deceased. John was easily changed to George, George to Mary, Mary to Agnes. However at that last funeral the attendees were startled to read in the Nicene Creed that Jesus was born of the Blessed Virgin Agnes.

From: David Ashbaugh (dashbaughATrockisland.com)
Subject: AWAD

I signed my son up for AWAD and he promptly enrolled other attorneys at his firm. The contest now is to use the word from AWAD in a legal brief in a way that is both correct and would pass muster at court.

A word in earnest is as good as a speech. -Charles Dickens, novelist (1812-1870)

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