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AWADmail Issue 635

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 Free. This week's Email of the Week winner, Alex Landau (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 downloadable PDF, absolutely gratis. Hurree y'up.

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

From Marvellous to Awesome: How Spoken British English Has Changed
The Guardian

How Dictionary-Makers Decide Which Words to Include
The Economist

From: Bruce Reaves (reavesb earthlink.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--recapitulate

I think I've been caught up in an infinite loop of circular definition! You begin your definition of "recapitulate" as "To recap" but "recap" is short for "recapitulation".

So, to recap,
I think I've been caught up in an infinite loop of circular definitions! You begin your definition of "recapitulate" as "To recap" but "recap" is short for "recapitulation".

Bruce Reaves, Graham, North Carolina

It may be OK to describe Alexander as Alex, but there is no excuse for describing recapitulate to mean recap. It's as bad as defining hippopotamus as a hippo. Hippos and rhinos don't lose any weight by such clipping, but sometimes words shift in meaning, such as the noun "fan" from "fanatic" or the verb "vet" from "veterinarian".
Well, props to you for catching it. It's fixed on the website now.
-Anu Garg

From: Robert Roten (roten lariat.org)
subject: recapitulate

When I see the word recapitulate, I often recall that it is part of an incredibly compact scientific statement about a now-discredited theory that the fetus, during its development in the womb goes through all the stages of evolution, from single-celled organism to human.

The statement is: "Embryology recapitulates phylogeny." It is also stated by the equally compact formulation: "Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny."

Robert Roten, Laramie, Wyoming

From: Janel Christensen (janelchristensen57 gmail.com)
Subject: recapitulate

I first learned this word many years ago in my piano lesson of all places! My teacher was telling me about the three main parts of the sonata form: the exposition, the development, and the recapitulation. I still remember that word all these years later (I'm still playing the piano too!).

Janel Christensen, Layton, Utah

From: Evelyn Falkenstein (evfalkenstein yahoo.com)
Subject: degust

The noun in French, dégustation, means a tasting of a large number of small plates of different foods in a special degustatory event. Dégoutant -- disgusting -- may have lost its essence in the Great Circonflex War when it became a word of distaste!

Evelyn Falkenstein, Davis, California

From: Nalini Sankaranarayanan (nalsanka cisco.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--degust

This word was introduced to me by Masterchef Australia where they had a few challenges which were to do with dessert degustation. Here's another.

Nalini Sankaranarayanan, Bangalore, India

From: Mary Holbrow (maryholbrow hotmail.com)
Subject: degust

"Degust" immediately brings to mind the popular saying "De gustibus non est disputandum" meaning that matters of taste are not subject to argument.

Mary Holbrow, Cambridge, Massachusetts

From: Charles Keddie (ckeddie tbaytel.net)
Subject: Prorogue

I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking "My parliament's been 'pro-rogue' for years."

Charles Keddie, Thunder Bay, Canada

From: Mike Babb (mbabb troycable.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--repose

My Dad has long since passed, but one of his favorite short poems was:

"She stood on the bridge at midnight,
Disturbing my night's repose.
For she was a lusty mosquito,
And the bridge was the bridge of my nose."

Thanks AWAD for the memory!

Mike Babb, Daleville, Alabama

From: Jim Scarborough (jimes hiwaay.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--repose

This reminds me of a list of bad translations into English doing the rounds of the Internet back in 1991. An Austrian hotel instructed its mostly-skier guests, "Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension."

The full list, interposed with pictures of similarly disastrous translations, some unintentionally a little racy, is here.

Jim Scarborough, Cary, North Carolina

From: Lyz Harvey (lyz.harvey btinternet.com)
Subject: repose

When I was an art student (a lifetime ago) the model for a life class failed to arrive. The tutor asked if anyone would volunteer. Pay was good -- so for several weeks I filled the gap and discovered a talent for holding a pose for up to half an hour without moving a muscle. Sometimes the tutor would re-pose me, which is when I discovered the truth in today's quotation -- the actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts!

Lyz Harvey, Belbroughton, UK

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

From: Alex Landau (oporaca gmail.com)
Subject: This week's words

This week's words were certainly a tricky lot:

I claimed to know the meaning of "recapitulate", but when I read your email I was forced to give in, as I did over and over this week.

I thought I knew what "degust" meant, but then I had the wind taken out of my sails.

I thought I had conclusively determined the meaning of "reprove", but then I couldn't reconstruct my argument.

I made a bold claim about the meaning of "prorogue", but your email was not supportive of my maverick position.

I pretended to know the meaning of "repose", but once again I was merely posturing.

Alex Landau, Palo Alto, California

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

Language is like soil. However rich, it is subject to erosion, and its fertility is constantly threatened by uses that exhaust its vitality. It needs constant reinvigoration if it is not to become arid and sterile. -Elizabeth Drew, author (1887-1965)

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