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AWADmail Issue 597A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
From: Pat Hankins (claypath earthlink.net)
Oh joy! Leah's illustrations are back for another week. She can make the least appealing words funny with her clever renderings. I laughed out loud at the malingering monkey!
Pat Hankins, Meansville, Georgia
From: Felicity Allman (felicityallman gmail.com)
Bearing in mind my name, this is a word I can't get away with using too often. As it happens, I was actually a particularly grumpy child, and my parents often declared me the least felicitous Felicity out there. Fortunately (or felicitously) I'm much more cheerful now that I'm older.
Thanks for the daily words and please keep them coming!
Felicity Allman, London, UK
From: Nalini Sankaranarayanan (nalsanka cisco.com)
Nalini Sankaranarayanan, Bangalore, India
From: Christine Madsen (cterpmadsen comcast.net)
Your word of the day "disprize" didn't surprize me. I had a running battle with my 10th grade English teacher over the spelling of "surprise" about "surprize", after she marked that alternative spelling incorrect on a friend's paper. I argued my friend's case passionately, and made a lifelong friend of the teacher, Karen Vespignani, who still teaches near my hometown in New Jersey. I even took her to my 40th high school reunion. Our crowning achievement in that 10th grade class was for several of us to rewrite portions of The Scarlet Letter in couplets.
Christine Madsen, Olympia, Washington
From: Raphael Barousse (raphbar catholic.org)
Many years ago I had a teacher of Greek who was a German monk who spoke many languages, not all of them idiomatically. We came upon a Greek word whose meaning no one in the class knew. Fr. Shwiekert translated for us: unfightagainstable i.e ineluctable.
Raphael Barousse, St. Benedict, Louisiana
From: Barry Bedrick (barryrb post.harvard.edu)
I first encountered this word over 50 years ago when studying Joyce's Ulysses in college and the quotation has stuck in my mind, in part because it was so baffling. Stephen Dedalus, in an interior monologue, refers to "the ineluctable modality of the visible."
Barry Bedrick, Arlington, Virginia
From: Dave Zobel (dzobel alumni.caltech.edu)
Though it never appears in the text, the word "ineluctable" always reminds me of Frank R. Stockton's 1882 short story "The Lady, or the Tiger?", in which a king sentences his daughter's secret lover to choose between two identical doors. Behind one waits a lady (not the princess but one of her rivals), whom the condemned man, if he chooses that door, must marry on the spot. Behind the other stalks a ferocious tiger (with all that that en-tails).
The suitor thus has a 50-50 chance of becoming somebody's husband or somebody's snack. The princess, knowing what lies behind each door -- and that she must lose her beloved forever either way -- indicates one of the doors to him, which he unhesitatingly opens ...
In a sense, the lead roles in the story are played not by any human character, but by Chance and Fate: the one "impartial and incorruptible", the other ineluctable.
Dave Zobel, Los Angeles, California
From: Michael Tremberth (michaelt4two googlemail.com)
Malingering is a term initially used in connection with soldiers and sailors who wished to avoid military and naval duties. E.T. Luscombe, in "Practical observations on the means of preserving the health of soldiers in camp and in quarters" (Edinburgh, 1820), observes that "Formerly, it was ulcers of the legs, which were most usually produced by artificial means by soldiers..disposed to malinger." Regrettably, I do not know what then became currently used excuses for skiving.
Michael Tremberth, St Erth, UK
From: Lily Huang (lyh1124 gmail.com)
What about feigning wellness to go to work?
Lily Huang, Chatham, New Jersey
From: M Henri Day (mhenriday gmail.com)
For some reason, I can't read or hear this word without these lines from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" coming to mind:
"And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
M Henri Day, Stockholm, Sweden
From: Gloria Dannevig De Molnar (gloria.molnar sanandres.esc.edu.ar)
I was surprised by the meaning of nimiety as the same word in Spanish has the opposite meaning (small, insignificant). This let me to look it up in the Real Academia Española dictionary and it has a second meaning: excess; and a third: neatness/detailed. Fascinating because nimiedad in Spanish is its own antonym. Is there a similar case in English?
Gloria D. Molnar, Buenos Aires, Argentina
From: Margaret Neunborn (maneunborn yahoo.co.uk)
of their times... dear Anu somewhere this weekend I picked up that "selfie" is being allowed into a dictionary! Pushing the boundaries of human endeavour indeed! Thank you and your team for the little daily window into a wider world as I sit in a very beautiful but isolated place.
Margaret Neunborn, Karkloof, South Africa
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:Every word was once a poem. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)