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AWADmail Issue 592

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

Sponsor's message:
Calling all Capitalists... introducing our completely original, fun and funny money game, ONEUPMANSHIP -- which the literate and lucky Email of the Week winner Phil Graham (see below) will get hot off the presses. And as a sort of "insider deal", we're offering first dibs on the first edition of this soon-to-be classic for 10% OFF to all AWADers -- just use coupon code "lagniappe" -- UNTIL MIDNIGHT TONIGHT.

From: Martin Quinlan (garfield iinet.net.au)
Subject: pecksniffian

Pecksniff's is the name of a boutique perfumery in 'the lanes' of Brighton in the UK. My choice of fragrance from there is Cardinal.

Martin Quinlan, Perth, Australia

From: Peter Morrison (pmorrison nyiso.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pecksniffian

For the first time I must take issue with one of your (otherwise wonderful) quotations.

From BIOtechNOW.org: "Jane Smith, in her history of the Salk Vaccine, Patenting the Sun, notes that whether or not Salk himself believed what he said to Murrow, the idea of patenting the vaccine had been directly analyzed and the decision was made not to apply for a patent mainly because it would not result in one. We will never know whether the National Foundation on Infantile Paralysis or the University of Pittsburgh would have patented the vaccine if they could have, but the simple moral interpretation often applied to this case is simply wrong."

Peter Morrison, New York

From: Gregory M. Harris (3s292d4x02 sneakemail.com)
Subject: Smellfungus

Smellfungus appears also to be a tosspot word, that is, one where the verb precedes the object, like breakfast, scarecrow, killjoy, and of course, tosspot.

Gregory M. Harris, Middletown, Connecticut

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--smellfungus

Hmm... I rarely have the occasion, or imperative, to don the odious cloak of a 'sniffing-for-dirt' smellfungus, but am peeving now nonetheless, it just dawned on me in reading today's "USAGE" example from Feb. 13th's Denver Post article, specifically the salient phrase, "And a couple of smellfungus...", that to be technically correct, from a grammatical perspective, shouldn't that line have read, 'And a couple of smellfungi...'---the word "fungi" being the accepted pluralization of the word "fungus"? OK... I know what you're saying, "Picky, picky, picky!". (And, after all, novelist Sterne's fictive character IS named Tobias Smellfungus, not 'Smellfungi'.)

Or, on second thought, would (smell) fungus, in the aforementioned instance, perfectly suffice as the proper plural form... kind of like "moose", pluralized, which still remains "moose" (not 'mooses'). Interestingly, just for the record, I discovered that "funguses" is also a quite legitimate plural form of fungus; although for me, fungi sounds way more cool, almost akin to Jedi. HA! Used in a descriptive phrase... "Beware the funguses among us!"

Trust me, I'm hardly a habitual smellfungus... truth be told, more of a fun-guy. But fair warning... do not truffle... Oops!... I mean trifle w/ me. Witnessing 'mushrooming' ire is never a pretty sight. (Groan)

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Email of the Week (Introducing ONEUPMANSHIP -- "Playing mind (and money) games is wicked fun."

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Falstaffian

This word brought back an epiphany I had 49 years ago as a senior in high school English. We were being introduced to famous characters from Shakespeare plays. Falstaff was described as "big and jovial".

After class, I admitted to the teacher that I'd been misinformed for years. A biography I had read in grade school had described Babe Ruth as having "a Falstaffian sense of humor" and I had always thought it meant that he was a beer drinker! Actually, he was, but I'd been misinformed for about ten years. Thanks, Miss Britt!

Many of your readers may not know that Falstaff was a nationally-known brewer for several decades in the last century.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: John Harrier (viktorindigo windstream.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--falstaffian

Falstaff is also in Henry V -- the character, albeit off-stage, is used as a foil to highlight the changes in Henry.

Shmoop.com says: According to Bloom, 'The absence of Falstaff is the large presence in this drama, since Hal is thereby absent also' (Bloom's Shakespeare Through the Ages: Henry V)."

John Harrier, Glenford, Ohio

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

The example you chose to illustrate Milquetoast made me smile: In German Rahm means cream. I wonder whether the pun was intended in the article... or on your side.

Claudine Voelcker, Munich, Germany

From: Hiller B. Zobel (honzobe aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--milquetoast

H.T. Webster's comic strip, The Timid Soul, featured Caspar Milquetoast as the wimpy star. In one typical situation, Caspar stood silently beneath a street-side clock, whose hands moved forward in each succeeding panel. In the last one, showing that eight hours had passed, Caspar finally spoke: "That does it. He can find someone else to lend him fifty dollars."

Hiller B. Zobel, Boston, Massachusetts

From: Raymond Schlabach (crdutchman gmail.com)
Subject: milquetoast

I remember reading the Milquetoast comic strip. In one case, he caught up to a police cruiser going very slowly. He followed behind block after block after block. He was afraid to pass a police car.

Raymond Schlabach, Heredia, Costa Rica

From: Diane Campbell (diane.campbell internode.on.net)
Subject: Milquetoast

Dr Benjamin Spock, the best-selling author of "Baby and Child Care" describes in his autobiography "Spock on Spock" a meal of milk toast. This was considered suitable supper fare for a child, but the young Benjamin Spock was humiliated when he accompanied his father to a cafeteria and was made to have milk toast rather than something from the menu.

Diane Campbell, Adelaide, Australia

From: Srinivasan TK (tsrinivasan gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bumbledom

I nostalgically remember my friends and I -- a set of over-enthu youngsters -- used to call any new fussy teacher with this Dickensian epithet, to his chagrin!

T.K. Srinivasan, Chennai, India

From: Alison Lewis (alewis4722 verizon.net)
Subject: You -- on cable TV

I was amused when Chelsea Handler mentioned "getting a vocabulary word every day" at the end of her "Chelsea Lately" show last night and that it was "falstaffian". Of course, I knew exactly where this word was coming from, although I wished she'd given you a shout-out by name!

Alison Lewis, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

From: Stuart Miles-McLean (miles-mclean.stuart epa.gov)
Subject: Life imitates Art

On the subject of this week's theme, I was amused to read that Chipotle's chief marketing officer is Mark Crumpacker.

Stuart Miles-McLean, Washington, DC

Language is the only homeland. -Czeslaw Milosz, writer, Nobel laureate (b. 1911)

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