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AWADmail Issue 626

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, Steven Stine (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

11 Words That Are Much Older Than You Think
The Guardian

A Period Is Questioned in the Declaration of Independence
The New York Times

From: M Henri Day (mhenriday gmail.com)
Subject: Re: mossback

The very antithesis of a rolling stone !... ;-)

M Henri Day, Stockholm, Sweden

From: John Steel (john.steel botany.otago.ac.nz)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mossback

Such people should more accurately be called algaebacks; the green growth on the back of the mossback turtle is, in fact, algal.

John Steel, Dunedin, New Zealand

From: Katy Boone (katym24 gmail.com)
Subject: another mossback

The definition of mossback and its connection to old creatures made me think of another mossy creature -- the sloth. Sloths move so slowly that a type of algae is able to grow in their fur, giving them a mossy green appearance. The idea of slow moving was, I thought, another apt way of describing someone with old-fashioned, conservative views (at least it seems so at times when looking at political progress).

Katy Boone, Seattle, Washington

From: Merilyn Thomas (thomas.merilyn bigpond.com)
Subject: RE: A.Word.A.Day--mossback

My parents had a saying, "A rolling stone gathers no moss", meaning a person or thing that keeps moving from place to place will gather few belongings or possessions or will cull possessions substantially.

According to Wikipedia, the saying has been around for hundreds of years. The TV show MythBusters showed that a stone rolled for six months did not gather moss.

Merilyn Thomas, Townsville, Australia

From: Thomas Hanlon (qwerrk gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mossback

"Ol' mossback George" (Bailey) is how Sam Wainwright describes stuck-at-home Jimmy Stewart in It's A Wonderful Life.

Thomas Hanlon, Colchester, Connecticut

From: Brendan Dangelo (danbrendan gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--misanthrope

I apologize for the language, but always thought this was the best definition of misanthrope from the movie The Proposition (video, 45 sec.).

Brendan Dangelo, Windsor, Vermont

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

"Bruegel's Misanthrope"

The Elder Bruegel's misanthrope/ Could barely cope/ Being widely regarded/ As the most odious of all townsfolk.

Cloaked in pitch-black full-length robe/ And tasseled cowl/ Emitting an odor most pungent and offal foul.

This chimeric misanthrope/ Would often sit about and mope/ Round town-center square/ Repellent to a fault.

Rumored to be a cousin/ To the much-feared grim reaper/ A loathsome soul/ I dare say/ Hardly his brother's keeper.

Needless to say, this glum guy would hardly be the life-of-the-party. Apparently, even the pesky local pigeons would avoid the town misanthrope, sensing he wasn't that fond of THEM... either.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Steve Kirkpatrick (stevekirkp comcast.net)
Subject: misanthrope

Readers might be surprised to read a misanthropic line from the cartoonist Charles Schulz. In one cartoon, he had the low-key, but philosophical character Linus speak this line: "I love mankind. It's people I can't stand."

Steve Kirkpatrick, Olympia, Washington

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

From: Steven Stine (scstine1672 gmail.com)
Subject: Fwd: A.Word.A.Day--autodidact

I once used this word in a conversation. My friend didn't know the meaning so I told her. She asked me where I learned it it. I told her that I figured it out by myself.

Steven Stine, Deerfield, Illinois

From: Susie Burstein (twinssa1 gmail.com)
Subject: Autodidact

I always have to smile when I hear that word. I heard it first from a Brazilian tour guide who had a phenomenal knowledge about the rain forest, and when I asked him where he'd studied, he replied that he was an autodidact. I was flummoxed at first, then I remembered my Latin, and could work it out. I found it extraordinarily pompous...and I still do!

Susie Burstein, Johannesburg, South Africa

From: Emanuela Ughi (ughi dipmat.unipg.it)
Subject: Magnifico Rettore

In the Italian Universities, the official way of naming the dean is "Magnifico Rettore"; the other professors can refer to him as "il Magnifico" (the Magnificent One).

Since "magnifico" means also "very beautiful" it is fun, sometimes, to call "magnifico" someone who is very ugly.

Emanuela Ughi, Perugia, Italy

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

The formal address for the president/head of a German university is "Magnifizenz", which sounds rather bombastic and frankly a little ridiculous in its quaintness.

Claudine Voelcker, Munich, Germany

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Magnifico

The people of Florence called Lorenzo de Medici Il magnifico. And that he undoubtedly was. Not simply sponsor of the most famous art projects of the Florentine Renaissance, but instigator, inspirer, energizer, and arbiter of artistic, humanistic, and civic policy, which considered the achievements of the Tuscan city-state a source of pride and virtue.

Would that the same selfless, informed, and diligent animus prevailed in modern society instead of the shallow egotism that is the hallmark of many notables in our time.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, 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

Often the accurate answer to a usage question begins, "It depends." And what it depends on most often is where you are, who you are, who your listeners or readers are, and what your purpose in speaking or writing is. -Kenneth G. Wilson, author and professor (1923-2003)

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