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AWADmail Issue 600

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

Sponsor's Message:
Introducing ONEUPMANSHIP -- a Machiavellian money game that's also an expensive and elitist lifestyle accessory/unsubtle political statement -- which the Email of the Week winner Kathryn Kaser-Nichols (see below) will get hot off the press, whether she is a capitalist or not.

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Triumph of the English Major
The New York Times

See Your Personal Dialect Map
The New York Times

From: John Richardson (rubrick.illumus gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lickspittle

In today's AWAD you ask figuratively, "Do you see in black and white?" Ten years ago I studied photography in the last heyday of the film age just before digital took over and made everyone a photographer. One of the tricks of film photography was being able to visualise the end product when setting up and capturing the image. With no previews, the art of the photograph was down to the skills and experience of the photographer and his ability to get the most out of his equipment and medium in the time and conditions available.

One of the biggest joys was seeing the negative images on a roll following processing and the latent images appearing during the printing process. Sadly, the chemical dark room is fast almost a relic of the past, and film negatives are being scanned one last time before being confined to archives or destroyed. Of the many thousands I took over the space of thirty years about 80% are in my favoured medium, monochrome, or black and white, which allows me to make use of strong contrasts, shadows, and lighting and to evoke a greater mood than colour ever could. When I gave an exhibition of my work several years ago one of the viewers asked me "how do you know how the images will come out when you take them?" I thought for a moment and replied, "It's hard to describe but I see things in black and white." Literally.

John Richardson, Bremen, Germany

From: M Don Frampton (collepardo btinternet.com)
Subject: Lickspittle

Lickspittle...again a word not in common use here in England where "obsequious" is more commonly used. The very epitome of lickspittle is, of course, Uriah Heep and I have heard people use his name to describe another person as having a "Uriah Heep personality".

M Don Frampton, Newton Abbot, UK

From: James Miller (odysseusatnight yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lickspittle

My Dad and I were talking about this word once and he said in the Marines in WW11 they used "ear banger" for the same purpose.

James Miller, Brookfield, Illinois

From: Edith Lowe (Lowe.edith gmail.com)
Subject: Tosspot

In the UK, the word 'tosspot' is, more or less, interchangeable with 'tosser'. With one important difference: tosser derives from -- how to put this in a way that avoids being caught by an overactive obscenity filter? -- the act of (male) self-abuse. Here in England it means someone not very pleasant and a bit self important. Perhaps the closest American synonym would be 'd***head'. Although arguably an excess of either activity is usually frowned upon, we Britons obviously take a dimmer view of onanism than of drinking. Tossing back a pot or three is pretty much par for the course here, especially at Christmas!

Edith Lowe, London, UK

From: Derek Murrah (chewfx hotmail.com)
Subject: Tosspot

Back when I had an English roommate whilst teaching in Taiwan in the late 90s, "to toss off" had a very different meaning, and was usually accompanied by a hand gesture similar to that of shaking dice. More common was calling someone a "tosser", or beseeching someone to "get tossed". Great memories from today's word, thank you.

Derek Murrah, Seattle, Washington

From: David Ornick (david.ornick ymail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--skint

Regarding skint, 'so broke that his hide was shaved off': My rural relatives had a saying about any penurious person, "He skint a gnat for his hide and tallow."

David Ornick, Morgantown, West Virginia

Email of the Week (Brought to you by ONEUPMANSHIP.)

From: Kathryn Kaser-Nichols (kkaserco dwwireless.net)
Subject: hayseed

This word makes me laugh and remember the time in 1960 when I was a college student, formerly from Iowa, attending a Bible school in Chicago. I was riding the "el" to go shopping downtown when I saw a young hayseed and felt so superior because I had joined the ranks of city folks in the recent few months of my freshman year. Suddenly, I disliked myself and decided city life was corrupting me.

Kathryn Kaser-Nichols, Kennewick, Washington

From: Joan Perrin (perrinjoan aol.com)
Subject: hayseed

If you looked up the word hayseed in a visual dictionary, you would no doubt find a picture of Gomer Pyle. As portrayed by the actor and singer, Jim Nabors, the naive gas-station attendant and cousin to Goober, makes his appearance in the Andy Griffith Show, a show that featured the adventures of a hayseed sheriff in a hayseed town of Mayberry. The character was so popular Griffith spun him off to his own show, Gomer Pyle USMC. There is no denying, Gomer Pyle was the quintessential country bumpkin.

Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York

Stability in language is synonymous with rigor mortis. -Ernest Weekley, lexicographer (1865-1954)

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