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AWADmail Issue 622

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

Sponsor's message: It's Officially Huge. This week's Email of the Week winner, Alfred Fedak (see below) -- as well as all AWADers worldwide -- can now make their own terrific fun word-nerd party for nothing. Introducing our best-selling One Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Word Game as a free PDF download, absolutely gratis. Hurree y'up.

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

How Do You Spell T-I-E? National Spelling Bee Has Two Winners

How Much Really Gets Lost in Translation?
The New Yorker

From: Ken Kirste (kkkirste sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Gravitas

This word reminded me of American actor Morgan Freeman's well-known quotation "I gravitate towards gravitas" -- which I understand he coined to describe the type of movie roles he prefers.

Ken Kirste, Sunnyvale, California

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

Needless to say, those entrusted planners, architects, and designers of the recently opened Ground Zero Memorial Museum in NYC realized the gravitas of their mission in creating a space of remembrance, solemnity, and contemplation in memory of those thousands of innocents who tragically perished on 9/11.

Yet there has already been some public umbrage stirred up over the fact that there is a gift shop on site, selling sundry items relating to this most catastrophic terroristic event ever witnessed on home soil. So a bit of a debate, of sorts, has predictably ensued as to whether this 'oasis of commerce' really belongs at this most sacred and solemn of places.

Playing devil's advocate, I can only point out that most of our celebrated, venerable missions here in California have their own modest gift shops, selling all manner of religious fare. Bottom-line, all these revered institutions, be it the new museum at 'ground zero', or our old California missions need a regular infusion of capital to basically survive and thrive... filthy lucre, or otherwise.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Email of the Week (Brought to you by One Up! -- with our compliments.)

From: Alfred Fedak (alfred alfredfedak.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--languid

In the world of pipe organs, the word "languid" has yet another meaning. The term refers to the internal shelf-like structure located near the lower end of all so-called flue pipes. In this case the term derives from the Latin lingua (tongue), since the languid sits inside the mouth of the pipe, behind its lower lip, and directs wind (i.e., airflow) across its upper lip to create a musical tone when a key is depressed -- like blowing across the mouth of an open bottle.

But organ-pipe nomenclature gets even more anthropomorphic. Besides a mouth, lips, and tongue, each flue pipe has a body, a foot, and a toe. Some even feature external structures called ears and beards. And when it is producing sound, an individual organ pipe is said to "speak".

Alfred Fedak, Albany, New York

From: Michael Tremberth (michaelt4two googlemail.com)
Subject: Languid

It is perhaps useful to give three synonyms of languid: lazy, uninterested, moribund.

Michael Tremberth, St Erth, UK

From: Dr. G. Nadarajan (dr.g.nadarajan gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--perfuse

Being a surgeon, I would like to add that there are specialists called perfusionists. They run the heart-pump machines during cardiac surgeries.

Dr. G. Nadarajan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

From: Michael Riisager (pmichaelriisager hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--noesis

Although I have been aware of noesis and its meaning, I never until today linked it to the possible derivation of the -- perhaps archaic, perhaps dialectic -- word nous which is occasionally used, particularly in the northern counties of England, in the understanding of "common sense".

Example (addressed to me on the Yorkshire/Lancashire 65 years ago): "Ee lad, hast tha' no nous to be going out in rain baht [without] hat?"

Michael Riisager, Yarmouth, Maine

from: Lynne Glasscoe (lynne.glasscoe gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day

I call it the A.Word.A.Day effect.

Having identified the new piece of equipment as a lectern, not a podium as referred to by my friend, I then spent the next few minutes trying to work out its etymology. My brain seethed with possibilities: reading, books, library, livres, bibliotheques. I knew it must link up with lecture.

Finding its source had to wait as I settled down to listening to the poetry session the lectern was intended for...another exercise in words!

Thank you for being such stimulating company every day.

Lynne Glasscoe, Blackwater Valley, Ireland

From: Keith Gilley (mandkGilley gmail.com)
Subject: May 26th's Thought for Today

Regarding last AWADmail's Thought for Today:

First, there is nothing unique about English's "openness" to words from other languages. Second, there is no logical conception of "proper" grammar as distinct from "bad" grammar that people lapse into out of ignorance or laziness. -John McWhorter, linguist, author, and commentator (b. 1965)

Mr McWhorter's thought sounds a chord. As one who, for many years, marked students' essays laden with what convention calls error, they often apologized for their "bad" grammar. I would tell them, "No, your grammar isn't bad. It's simply your grammar. It is, however, a kind of USAGE that will lower your status in the eyes of many people. Try to learn their dialect."

Keith Gilley, Surrey, Canada

From: Irving N. Webster-Berlin (awadreviewsongs gmail.com)
Subject: Song based on this week's words

Here are this week's AWAD Review Songs (words and recordings) for your listening and viewing pleasure.

Irving N. Webster-Berlin, Sacramento, California

Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it. -Christopher Morley, writer (1890-1957)

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