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AWADmail Issue 598A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
From: Joe Wander (jdwandersr gmail.com)
Inoculate is a common term in microbiology, meaning to introduce an organism (inoculum) into a growth medium or culture.
Joe Wander, Panama City, Florida
From: Patricia Breault (pbreault43452 gmail.com)
I have a great memory of using this word. In my American Literature class in high school, we were required to write essays. In one essay I used the word 'palpable'. Incredibly, my teacher marked me down because she said it was not a real word. I guess dictionaries were in short supply in our high school in the 60s. Fortunately, I was able to locate one and pointed out this was a real word, used in the proper context, so she reluctantly allowed it. I continued to use 'palpable' in every essay I wrote, she would continue to mark it as not a real word, I would continue to prove my case. Finally, she allowed it in my essays so I did not have to use it in every essay anymore.
Patricia Breault, Port Clinton, Ohio
From: Dave Campell (museumofdave gmail.com)
As is so frequently the case, the less common word conjures up a scene from Shakespeare, here in Hamlet's final dueling scene. As the prince and Laertes square off in a duel, the latter armed with a poisoned rapier, Hamlet scores a hit disputed by King Claudius; Hamlet asks the toady Osric for more objective judgement: "A hit", replies Osric, "a very palpable hit."
Dave Campbell, Chico, California
From: Jane Lomax-Smith (jls196 gmail.com)
I can't think of the word skint without the word boracic popping into my mind. Where I grew up you were 'boracic', short for 'boracic lint' rhyming with and meaning skint.
Jane Lomax-Smith, Adelaide, Australia
From: Priscilla Diamond (pkatediamond gmail.com)
Are you sure that the following usage example isn't a typo for "scant" or something? Probably not, but my brain keeps wanting to read it as scant. Habit, I suppose.
"Much of the information contained in the early reports was ambitious in tone but skint on detail."
Priscilla Diamond, Lexington, Massachusetts
Now that you mention it, the word scant does fit better in the above sentence.
From: Alison Huettner (pondalorum aol.com)
And of course the word "prat" still means butt in British English, and is used to describe people the way Americans might call someone an "ass". I'm still laughing at a description of the reception one "Randy Pratt" (American) received on a lecture tour in England!
Alison Huettner, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
The word "pratfall", for me, conjures up the engaging slapstick antics of the early comedic silent film (Chaplin, Keaton, W.C. Fields, et al) and vaudeville eras, where broad physical comedy was often a staple of both entertainment forms. The early 'boomer' generation, which includes yours truly, grew up with such comedy fare as the wacky histrionics of The Three Stooges, goofy Red Skelton, the brilliant Sid Caesar, and the young, and zany Jerry Lewis.
All these aforementioned performers incorporated the "pratfall", or the almost cliched tumble, slipping on a banana peel, in their comic repertoire. Of course, with the Stooges, the antics went far beyond just the pratfalls, and included a lot of simulated violence, including face-slapping, head-butting, eye-poking, noggin conking, and the like. (Not good role models for the young and impressionable kids of the day.)
Sadly, with veteran comedian Jerry Lewis, now well into his 80's, seemingly one too many deliberate pratfalls in his life... mostly in film, or onstage, severely damaged his lower back and neck, giving him chronic, excruciating episodes of pain over his later years; to the point where he had a new-age pain-minimizing device surgically implanted in his lower back several years ago, which he can remotely control, and activate when he feels major back pain coming on.
Hmm... comedy isn't always a barrel of laughs... or, a well executed pratfall.
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California
From: Jim Bickford (jcbick gmail.com)
The Grace Hopper quotation was one she used from John Augustus Shedd.
Jim Bickford, Arvada, Colorado
From: Graham Barlow (steeleye mweb.co.za)
Subject: Foot heads arms body
This quotation reminded me of what I regard as one of Private Eye magazine's funniest front page illustrations. It showed a simple black and white photograph of Michael Foot ambling down a London road, and the caption read: 'Foot: a leg end in his own lifetime.' It doubled me up then, and still does so whenever I think of it.
Graham Barlow, Cape Town, South Africa
From: Dave Roberts (swecdave gmail.com)
One of my favourite occurrences of a sentence that was correct, but sounded all sorts of wrong, went "welcome back to our coverage of the second test. The batsman's Holding, the bowler's Willey."
Dave Roberts, Bunbury, Australia
From: Glen Morgan (glen.morgan education.wa.edu.au)
As a (proud) English teacher, I just want to thank you so much for your wonderful word a day. For me, it's not so much about learning new words, it is more about learning of the Greek, Latin, and French roots of these words. Your website has prompted me to enjoy the English language in so many more ways. Thank you! Merry Xmas to you all.
Glen Morgan, Perth, Australia
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:A language is never in a state of fixation, but is always changing; we are not looking at a lantern-slide but at a moving picture. -Arthur Lloyd James, phonetician (1884-1943)