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AWADmail Issue 583A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
From: Lew Bryson (lew.bryson gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--apheresis
I found today's definitions of "apheresis" intriguing. I'm a regular platelet donor at the Red Cross, so it was interesting to learn the origin of the word. But it was particularly interesting to learn the first definition of the word... because everyone at the donor center, including the donors ourselves, refers to the process as "pheresis", meaning of course that the term "apheresis" had been subjected to...apheresis. Never would have known this but for A.Word.A.Day!
Lew Bryson, Langhorne, Pennsylvania
From: Joel Holtz (planetholtz cox.net)
There was a gnu that I did know
Once he understood the plan
Joel Holtz, MD, Rancho Palos Verdes, California
From: Jo Anne Powell (YoJo1 aol.com)
My understanding is that "till" preceded "until" - no?
Jo Anne Powell, Bellport, New York
Yes, "till" is attested 400 years before the word "until" which was formed by the addition of "un" to "till". The use of "'til" (not "till") in place of "until" is an example of apheresis. Thanks for catching this!
From: Carlos Cueto-Rejas (ccuetor941 hotmail.com)
A Spanish example of syncope is Navidad which comes from Natividad or Nativity.
Always enjoy the Word A Day I get in my mail. Seems the day doesn't begin with me if I do not get your "word". Thank you for your constancy (constancia)!
Carlos Cueto-Rejas, Lima, Peru
From: Katherine Harper (kharper4 gmail.com)
Your example for syncope makes me smile. I earned my bachelor's degree from an Ohio school called The College of Wooster. People who have only seen the name of this liberal-arts institution in writing invariably pronounce it to rhyme with "rooster". My response has always been, "It's really 'Wooster' --as in '-shire sauce'." I have yet to hear anyone make the same error twice.
Katherine Harper, Rocky River, Ohio
From: Warren McLean (wmclean pnc.com.au)
Ah, the vagaries of English nameplace syncope. They have Bicester (pronounced Bister), Towcester (Toaster), Gloucester (Gloster), Worcester (Wooster), Alcester (Alster), Leicester (Lester), all of which omit the 'ce' in pronunciation: But then there is Cirencester, pronounced Siren'sester) and not Sirenster.
Warren McLean, Leura, Australia
From: Rudy Rosenberg Sr (rudyrr att.net)
When I saw the word, I immediately thought of my departed mother. The word is the same in German, French, and English (and at least in dozens of others), but when Frieda lived in Belgium syncope became part of her daily language and she retained it to the end of her life after she had emigrated to the USA and English became her daily tongue. The French use the expression "tomber en syncope" as common. In the USA "to pass out" is the preferred expression.
Funny how a word can bring back a flash of memory even after 13 years.
Rudy Rosenberg Sr., Westbury, New York
From: Jeff Brooke (jeff odysseyreno.com)
The doctor said a micturition syncope was the reason I awoke yards from our tent in the middle of the night. A condition where the bladder is so full that, upon release, the blood flow to the brain is compromised and consciousness is lost. Since then we have referred to this episode as my "synco-pee-pee". I didn't know the first definition of this word but I guess this almost qualifies.
Jeff Brooke, Reno, Nevada
From: Linda Smidt (lindaforgeron gmail.com)
I only knew it as a musical term for a certain way of counting, with a "hiccup" so to speak. For example, where one "bar" contains four beats, a syncope is created by lengthening the first beat by a half, and shortening the beat after that. Similar effects can be made in the second beat, creating the "jazzy' beat -- syncope.
Linda Smidt, Krommenie, The Netherlands
From: Greta Dorfman (greta.dorfman gmail.com)
That reminded me of a musical term, syncopation. It's played with a skipped beat. What comes to mind for me as an example of syncopated rhythm is Cajun music, but I notice that wasn't mentioned in Wikipedia.
Greta Dorfman, Petach Tikvah, Israel
From: Steven Szalaj (szjsings mac.com)
There is the story of the sot who again came home very late from work. He needed a good story to explain his tardiness when his spouse greeted him. He grabbed the dictionary and quickly found a word he knew she wouldn't know. When confronted, he told her that he had fallen ill at work and had been to the doctor who told him he had "syncopation". She then looked up the word and found it to mean "irregular rhythmic movement from bar to bar".
Steven Szalaj, Crystal Lake, Illinois
From: Mary Hansel Parlin (mparlin cotterschools.org)
Aspirate: also a form of prayer, exhaling a word/thought.
Mary Hansel Parlin, Winona, Minnesota
From: Ronald Holden (inyourglass gmail.com)
'Enry's life was all frustration,
Ronald Holden, Seattle, Washington
From: Bryon Satterfield (bryons mindspring.com)
As a dentist, I use the word aspirate many times throughout my working day as continual instruction to my dental assistant. Most often, I need improved visibility. Patient comfort is also a primary objective.
In my first year of real practice, the patient was a lawyer, with a wry sense of humor, it turns out. After his procedure, when he could talk again, he said to me very seriously and thoughtfully, "One day I'm going to write a book titled, 'Aspirators I have known.' "
Bryon Satterfield, The Woodlands, Texas
From: Kyle Evans (kyle kyle-evans.com)
Prolepsis is also a grammatical construction in Ancient Greek, in which the subject of a dependent clause is "anticipated" and placed in the main clause instead. It is also known as the "lilies of the field" construction, after the famous Bible verse (Matthew 6:28) in which the prolepsis has commonly been carried over into English translations:
"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow." (Instead of "consider how the lilies of the field grow."
Kyle Evans, Austin, Texas
From: Taylor Rosenberg (machitainparadise gmail.com)
Having recently returned from a wonderful trip to Iceland, I'm still in thrall over the agglutinated language that is Icelandic. For example, that infamous volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, that brought air travel in Europe to a standstill in 2010, means island + mountain + glacier. While it's very descriptive to speakers of that impossible to pronounce language, it makes it very, very difficult for the rest of humanity to even try it!
The native speakers will never run out of the opportunity to laugh because foreigners just don't have the tongue elasticity to attempt all those agglutinated words. Plus the Icelandic alphabet has a few extra letters that do not exist in English so it really boggles the mind. By the way, the closest approximation we could come up with to pronounce that impossible word was AY-uh-fyat-luh-YOE-kuutl-uh. That would be an astounding shibboleth to loose on an enemy.
Taylor Rosenberg, Paradise Valley, Arizona
From: Ingrid Trausch (ingridet earthlink.net)
Hungarian is also heavily agglutinative, and very long single-word sentences are common. Add a different logic for word order in a sentence, one completely different from English, and and you get one of earth's most difficult languages for an outsider to learn.
Although I grew up in a Hungarian-English household and consider myself fluent in both, I find that after hanging out with my relatives, my English gets twisted and for a while, like Yoda, backwards speaking am I.
Ingrid Trausch, Minnesota
From: Peirce Hammond (peirce_hammond ed.gov)
The newest form of agglutinating language is still in flux -- computerese. Words are run together without spaces, particularly as names of sites or domains. There is also a natural phase-in of the agglutinated words as e-mail becomes email or Web-site becomes Website (and then website). Sometimes the "glue" seems to be somewhat caustic, eating up letters in the process. For example A.Word.A.Day has morphed into AWAD.
Peirce Hammond, Bethesda, Maryland
From: Art Wegweiser (art bmwcsregistry.org)
My professional specialty as a geologist is micropaleontology (teeny tiny fossils). In particular I am especially fond of a group called Foraminifera. These are relatives of the amoeba but produce (sometimes) elaborate shells about the size of a pinhead. Two major groups exist -- one calcareous (carbonate shells) and the AGGLUTINATED whose shells are made of bits of silt they gather and glue together. They are in all modern oceans in a great diversity of species and in the record back to the Devonian Period.
Art Wegweiser, Allison Park, Pennsylvania
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:Prolonged study of the English language leaves me with a conviction that nearly all the linguistic tendencies of the present day have been displayed in earlier centuries, and it is self-evident that the language has not bled to death through change. Vulgarity finds its antidote; old crudities become softened with time. Distinctions, both those that are useful and those that are burdensome, flourish and die, reflourish and die again. -Robert W. Burchfield, lexicographer (1923-2004)
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