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AWADmail Issue 580

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

From: Bill Duncan (wrd pmpartners.com)
Subject: Ponzi scheme

The house that Ponzi built with his ill-gotten gains still stands in Lexington, MA. I would guess that its current value is around $2 million, maybe more. It is just a short walk from the Lexington Green where the American Revolution began.

Bill Duncan, Lexington, Massachusets

From: Carlton Johnson (ctj.32803 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Ponzi scheme

Here is a quotation by Charles Ponzi:

"Even if they never got anything for it, it was cheap at that price. Without malice aforethought I had given them the best show that was ever staged in their territory since the landing of the Pilgrims! It was easily worth fifteen million bucks to watch me put the thing over." (source)

Carlton Johnson, Winter Park, Florida

From: Rebecca Haaland (Rebecca emsp.no)
Subject: quisling

Just the mention of Quisling still brings tears to the eyes of many Norwegians.

Rebecca Haaland, Sandnes, Norway

From: Ken Doran (kendoran execpc.com)
Subject: quisling

One place where "quisling" is rarely used with the connotation of "traitor" is Madison, Wisconsin. Going back before World War II, a family of physicians, relatives of Vidkun, founded a successful practice. The name still exists in a pharmacy and in housing in the handsome art deco former Quisling Clinic building.

Ken Doran, Madison, Wisconsin

From: Alastair McKean (mckeana mso.com.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--quisling

Another magnificent usage from Senator Robert Ray, apropos the defection from the Australian Labor Party of Senator Malcolm Colston:

"[A]nyone who rats on the Labor Party will get exactly what this quisling Quasimodo from Queensland got." (source)

Alastair McKean, Southbank, Australia

From: David Ferrier (ferrierd shaw.ca)
Subject: quisling

Q. What comes to mind about the names Brutus, Judas, Iago, & Quisling?
A. A law firm?

David Ferrier, Edmonton, Canada

Email of the Week (Brought to you by One Up! -- Letter-perfect summer fun.)

From: Margaret Woodhouse (Woodhome twmi.rr.com)
Subject: Burke

This one, despite its ominous meaning, really brought a smile to my lips. Back when my sister and I were pre-teens, a favorite after-dinner activity in my family was playing charades. My sister had a huge crush on Paul Burke in the TV series "12 O'clock High" and she was also extremely well-read. When her turn came, she decided to do his name, choosing to act out "Burke". I was her victim in the portrayal. She was so disappointed that no one got her wonderful (and to her, obvious) clue.

Margaret Woodhouse, Farmington Hills, Michigan

From: Diane Campbell (diane.campbell internode.on.net)
Subject: What a Burke/Berkeley Hunt

Today's "word named for baddies" is Burke. Of course, we know the story of Burke and Hare -- but I grew up with the expression "what a Burke!" which we used in the sense of "What a dill!" (Silly person).

In fact, I later learnt that in Cockney Rhyming slang, the reference is the Berkeley Hunt. So what vulgar term of abuse rhymes with Hunt...

Diane Campbell, Adelaide, Australia

From: Rama Kulkarni MD (drramakulkarni gmail.com)
Subject: burke

Burke and Hare are duly mentioned (with reference to asphyxiation) in the Forensic Medicine textbook used by generations of medical students in India. A calling card case made from Burke's skin is one of the exhibits in a police station museum in Edinburgh's Royal Mile.

Rama Kulkarni, MD, Santa Clara, California

From: Claudine Voelcker (claudine.voelcker googlemail.com)
Subject: Potemkin village

I thought of this term -- as I'm sure many readers did -- some time ago when I read how Northern Ireland masked recession by putting up fake storefronts for G8 visitors.

Claudine Voelcker, Munich, Germany

From: Erlinda E. Panlilio (epanlil gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Potemkin village

In the Philippines, former first lady Imelda Marcos was known for creating Potemkin villages by concealing the dross of the city's slums behind white walls so that visiting VIPs would not see the rot, sludge, and disorder of her "City of Man".

Erlinda E. Panlilio, Manila, Philippines

From: George Grumbach (ggrumbach cgsh.com)
Subject: Potemkin Villages

According to Robert Massie's biography of Catherine (Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman), the Potemkin villages were NOT fake, and it slandered Potemkin so allege. In chapter 67, "Crimean Journey and 'Potemkin Villages'", Massie argues that those who accused Potemkin were not present, whereas three sophisticated foreign visitors, the Austrian emperor, the French ambassador, and the Austrian field marshall, who were there, did not suggest that the villages were fakes.

George Grumbach, New York, New York

From: Glenn Jordan (holiday57 cox.net)
Subject: Potemkin villages

In fact this never happened, it's just another false story like Catherine making love with a horse. I did a great deal of research while working on a proposed mini series about Catherine and discovered there were many lies and exaggerations surrounding her and Potemkin, many put out by malicious French ambassadors.

Glenn Jordan, Santa Barbara, California

From: M Don Frampton (collepardo btinternet.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Potemkin village

I suppose a modern word that might be coined would Disneyesque...

M Don Frampton, Newton Abbot, UK

From: Olivia Thomas (email.olivia.thomas gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Typhoid Mary

For insight into what Typhoid Mary may have been like, I cannot recommend this book highly enough: Fever.

Olivia Thomas, London, UK

From: Yitzhak Dar (yitzhakdar gmail.com)
Subject: Words coined after baddies

Each of the "Baddies" whose names you brought up this week, was active in his own country, whether the US, Norway, Russia, etc. They all were "accepted" into the English language.

Each country has its own collection of bad acts names, coined after people, and they are being used in the country itself, as part of its language. One Israeli example is "Calanterism", after Rahamim Calanter, who served on the Jerusalem town's council in the 1950s. His (Orthodox) party decided to leave the Mayor's coalition on the city's council, because the Mayor planned to start building a mixed (men and women) swimming pool. Calanter left his party and joined the Mayor, who nominated him his deputy. Since then, when a member of parliament or city council leaves his party and joins another in order to receive benefits, it's called "Calanterism".

Yitzhak Dar, Haifa, Israel

Our expression and our words never coincide, which is why the animals don't understand us. -Malcolm De Chazal, writer and painter (1902-1981)

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