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AWADmail Issue 581

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

From: Priscilla K Smith (pkay svcable.net)
Subject: Snowbroth

Monday's word reminded me of melting mouthfuls of snow when I was four years old. That was 88 years ago and I fear today's air may change the quality of snowbroth!

Priscilla K Smith, Dummerston, Vermont

From: Jean Evans (jeanevans26 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--snowbroth

As is Shakespeare's Measure for Measure where Angelo is described thus:
"A man whose blood is very snowbroth."

Jean Evans, Chester, UK

From: Georgia Kornbluth (georgia_k verizon.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--snowbroth

When I was growing up in the little town of Graham, NC, in the mid-twentieth century, the air was clean & snow was rare ~ an occasion for outdoor rejoicing followed by the indoor treat of snowcream. Mama Holt, our beloved grandmother, collected a bowl of clean snow & added fresh rich cream, sugar, & vanilla extract ~ so far as I recall, the only additions required to turn snow into a delectable confection. Thanks for refreshing this lovely memory.

Georgia Kornbluth, New York, New York

Email of the Week (Brought to you by One Up! -- 120% more fun.)

From: Hamish Pawlaczyk (integripolack gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--snowbroth

This word, and indeed the week's theme, reminds me of the time I was experiencing my first real winter, in Poland, just recently. I grew up in the heart of Northern Queensland, Australia, in searing hot temperatures; so, when I finally had the privilege to see a river that was frozen over (a thought and premise just absolutely absurd to me), I relished in the sight of seeing large sheets of ice drifting down the river, with birds nonchalantly hitching a ride on top. I soon learned of a noun in Polish specifically for these sheets of ice, kry, (singular: kra), but I wasn't able to tell my partner of the English equivalent, and perhaps thought there simply wasn't one. After all, why, as an Australian, would I have ever even needed such a noun?

Nonetheless I took to Oxford's Polish-English Dictionary and, much to my delight, found that there is an equivalent: floe.

Hamish Pawlaczyk, Charters Towers, Australia

From: Jonatha Ann Johnson (yonnikka yahoo.com)
Subject: anachronism

On the same day you presented us with the word ANATOPISM, akin to ANACHRONISM, my inbox presented me with this choice morsel as an example to illustrate "anachronism":

"Before the discovery of the balloon, it was thought that the only essentials for a party were friendly guests and a CD of whale screams. Get ready for a modern get-together with this Groupon." (Source: Groupon.com Local)

Jonatha Ann Johnson, Vicksburg, Michigan

From: Nora Miller (millerstwo comcast.net)
Subject: Anatopism

Thank you for giving me a name for this! Folks who live in cities where movies are filmed complain about this quite often. My personal favorite to rant about was The Hunted, with Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio del Toro. While it was fun to see my hometown (Medford, Oregon) on the big screen, I howled in pain at the number of things "placed erroneously", including the MAX light-rail train running across the wrong bridge, cars turning from one street to another that is several miles away, and the bad guy escaping by running from downtown to Willamette Falls, also miles apart. The anatopism is dizzying!

Nora Miller, Tucson, Arizona

From: Lawrence N Crumb (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--anatopism

This reminds me of one of Ronald Knox's Essays in Satire where he analyzes the comings and goings in Trollope's Barsetshire series to show how the fictional trips conflict with the actual geography as described elsewhere in the novels. He got his sense of linear progression as a boy, memorizing railway timetables.

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: Milan Schonberger (milan.schonberger sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Anatopism

Although it seems like a clear multiple anatopism when Shakespeare gives Bohemia a seacoast and a desert in The Winter's Tale, as his fellow playwright Ben Jonson ridiculed him for, the fact is that in the 13th century the kingdom of Bohemia did extend all the way down to the coast of the Adriatic, so it had been possible to sail from Sicily to Bohemia. While it may also seem that the Bard had committed another anatopism describing Bohemia, the verdant and mountainous landlocked region where I come from, a desert, I venture to conjecture that he meant to label it a desert until Princess Elizabeth had become its queen in 1613. To support this I offer the fact that The Winter's Tale had been performed at her wedding to Frederic V, the King of Bohemia, and Shakespeare thus wanted to give her a compliment. Just as a footnote, I may add that he named the play The Winter's Tale because Frederic V had been pejoratively named as the Winter King and it so happens that he remained the King of Bohemia for only a winter.

Milan Schonberger, Los Angeles, California
(originally from Bohemia, an alternate name of the Czech Republic)

From: David Scoins (david scoins.net)
Subject: Anatopism

I wondered whether Anna Topik is a (misplaced, of course) novel character, until I found her on Facebook. Anatopik clothing, too: Fastenings in silly places? Put the clothes on and forget they're there?

David Scoins, Porthpean, UK

From: Josephine Haste (haste shaw.ca)
Subject: Bergamo

I quote Richard Paul Roe from The Shakespeare Guide to Italy, p113:
"The playwright knew that Bergamo was the principal source of sails for the Mediterranean world and knew that Tranio's father could, indeed, have been a sailmaker there."

Sailmakers worked where the canvas was produced (in Lombardy) and not down at some crowded, bustling harbour.

Josephine Haste, Mission, BC, Canada

From: Dave Zobel (dzobel alumni.caltech.edu)
Subject: quaternary

A fond memory from the Intro to Geology course I took in my freshman year (which might have been nicknamed "rocks for jocks" if not for the student body's complete lack of athletic prowess) is the technical term "quaternary alluvium", a much more interesting way of saying "(fresh) dirt".

Dave Zobel, Los Angeles, California

From: Isaac Mayer (isaacandalfie gmail.com)
Subject: quaternary

As a fan of evolutionary biology and natural history, I felt I had to bring up the Quaternary Period -- a geological period starting around two and a half million years ago and still going on today. Its main features are a series of ice ages and hot periods and the evolution of modern humanity. It was originally named because it came after the Tertiary Period, but the Tertiary Period is no longer called that, having been split into the Paleogene and the Neogene. So now there's a geological period called "fourth" with no "third" one before it. It's another example of scientific terminology not exactly matching up with standard English usage.

Isaac Mayer, San Diego, California

From: Murl Smith (smith.murl gmail.com)
Subject: quaternary

Today's word, quaternary, is familiar to students of molecular biology. Many proteins (polypeptides) possess a primary structure -- the sequence of their constituent amino acids; a secondary structure -- the way the amino acid chains are linked together, most commonly as alpha-helices or beta-sheets; a tertiary structure -- the three-dimensional arrangement of alpha-helices and/or beta-sheets; and a quaternary structure -- the arrangement of multiple protein subunits. A particularly well-known protein with quaternary structure is hemoglobin, the protein complex responsible for transporting oxygen in our red blood cells.

On a personal note, when I'm feeling especially pompous, I use the term "tertiary education" to refer to college/university and "quaternary education" to refer to graduate/professional school.

Murl Smith

From: Julie Ekkers (julie.ekkers wmitchell.edu)
Subject: elflock

I wanted to tell you that I love today's word and plan to push it into immediate circulation in my household where my three-year-old daughter every day wakes up with an elflock. (I imagine she will look at me like I might be an elf, but no matter.) It is sort of mysterious how hair can get into such a snarl, so a word with a dash of the magical to it seems perfect. (I like words that are shot through with a suggestion of what they mean like elflock. I grew up hearing my father say ripsnorting now and again. I was delighted when I discovered it was a real, true word because it sounded like it had a party packed into its 11 letters.)

Julie Ekkers, Minneapolis, Minnesota

From: Annie Brown (anniembrown hotmail.com)
Subject: elflock

What a cute word in today's vocabulary. Elves in Fairy Tales were not always nice which is why this name for a knot in the hair, that would hurt to have it combed out, is appropriate. My Danish mother called it a "heks" (witch), a name I still use with my grandkids.

Annie Brown, Medford, New Jersey

From: Pete Urbaitis (photobypete enter.net)
Subject: elflock

My mother referred to this as a rat's nest.

Pete Urbaitis, Lansdale, Pennsylvania

From: Raymond A Schlabach (crdutchman gmail.com)
Subject: elflock

One time my father was combing my hair for a haircut, and I had an elflock. So he said (in Pennsylvania Dutch): You have a "rupper" (elflock -- from "rupp" to pluck) in your hair. I thought he meant a rubber band. So I held out my hand and said: Give it to me.

Raymond Schlabach, Heredia, Costa Rica

From: Alan Shuchat (ahs613 gmail.com)
Subject: allochthonous

Along with allochthonous there is autochthonous, meaning native to the place. I first came across this word in French, where 'autochthone' on a sign in Québec sent me scurrying to a dictionary. It was in a store selling crafts produced by members of the First Nations, the Canadian version of Native Americans.

Alan Shuchat, Newton, Massachusetts

From: Monroe Thomas Clewis (mtc265 yahoo.com)
Subject: allochthonous

Glaciers sometimes scoop up boulders and stones, carry them far afield, and deposit them in a foreign landscape where they are known as "erratics". Plymouth Rock where the Pilgrims landed in the New World is an "erratic". A very apt classification considering the Pilgrims were also "scooped up" from their native soil and transported to a foreign land where the indigenous peoples no doubt thought of them as "erratic". History and geology intersect at Plymouth Rock in an allochthonous way.

Monroe Thomas Clewis, Kunming, China

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

Today's word raises a question in my mind. In an increasingly "small" world, a planet that we all share, what are the boundaries between mine and yours, homeland and outland? Who and what are foreign or intruders? Neighbors and relatives? And where does stewardship end and proprietorship or ownership begin? (Or just minding my own beeswax.)

Peirce Hammond, Bethesda, Maryland

Syllables govern the world. -John Selden, historian and politician (1584-1654)

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