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AWADmail Issue 638A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
Sponsor's message: Summer is an action verb, and it's not past tense yet. This is a last call-to-action for all you tan double-domes out there, especially this week's Email of the Week winner, Katherine Harper (see below). Purchase One Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Word Game -- a real steal at $15 (with FREE shipping), and we'll throw in a jokey lagniappe valued at "priceless" -- since we all know you can't buy brains. Today only.
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
From: Rob Hardy (robhardy3 gmail.com)
I can't think of this word without remembering the episode in Catch-22 when A. Fortiori is a name of a patient in the hospital, and the point of some identity confusion.
Rob Hardy, Columbus, Mississippi
From: Katherine Harper (kharper4 gmail.com)
The Danny Kaye film The Court Jester uses "verily" so comically that I can't hear or read the word without smiling. The title character watches a very solemn knighting ceremony in which soldiers intersperse chants about symbolism and bravery with "Yea, verily, yea!" Unbeknownst to the jester, a scheming court official has arranged to have him knighted as well. Because the court wants to get the business over with as soon as possible, the soldiers tow the jester from place to place at double-quick march with shouts of "Yea, verily, yea!" Ever since 1955, when my mother first saw the film, she has responded to radio and TV personalities who take themselves too seriously with a deadpan "Yea, verily, yea!" This makes the rest of us laugh and puts the pundit's comments in what may be a more appropriate context. (video, 3 min.)
Katherine Harper, Rocky River, Ohio
From: Arthur Silverstein (arts jhmi.edu)
Isn't there a song that goes, "Verily, verily, verily, verily, Life is but a dream?"
Arthur Silverstein, Falmouth, Massachusetts
From: Robert Payne (dziga68 sbcglobal.net)
In Shakespeare's time, the word "perchance", in addition to meaning "perhaps", also meant "by chance". So, in the second scene of Twelfth Night, the shipwrecked Viola, talking about her unrecovered brother, says to the Captain, "Perchance he is not drowned." And the Captain replies, "It is perchance that you yourself were saved." Then, Viola responds, using the word in both senses: "O my poor brother! And so perchance may he be."
The echoing of the word in this exchange sets the stage for a play in which all-powerful and whimsical "chance" governs the far-fetched goings-on.
Robert Payne, Los Angeles, California
From: Joel Mabus (joel.mabus pobox.com)
I suppose most of us will react to today's "perchance" with a bit of Hamlet's famous "perchance to dream" thoughts while pondering his "bare bodkin".
But I remember a bit of a Shakespearian take-off by Pete Seeger back in 1966:
To fight, perchance to win, aye, there's the rub
For victory brings power and prestige
And the children of the children of the fighters
Take all for granted, and, in turn, oppress.
Joel Mabus, Kalamazoo, Michigan
From: Liesl Du Toit (liesldutoit gmail.com)
I was so delighted when I checked my inbox and was greeted by the word "lief" as the word of the day. This word is really special to me, because in addition to the meanings that you provided, "lief" means love in my first language, Afrikaans. In this beautiful South African language we use the word in the phrase "ek is lief vir jou" which basically translates to "I love you."
Liesl Du Toit, Johannesburg, South Africa
From: Michael Tremberth (michaelt4two googlemail.com)
About 'lief' you write:
From Old English leof (dear). Ultimately from the Indo-European root leubh- (to love or to care), which also gave us love, belief, and leave (permission).
It would, I think, be beneficial to include cognate words from other languages, e.g., Liebe from German, lyubit' from Russian, to illustrate how widespread among other languages a root can be.
Michael Tremberth, St Erth, UK
From: Sam Long (gunputty comcast.net)
The "Tom Swift" boys adventure books were published by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, originally from 1910 to the early 1940s. Most were titled "Tom Swift and the [fantastic invention]", Tom being a very clever and inventive lad. The books were quite popular in their time. There was, however, a strong tendency for the dialogue to be of the form "[some sentence or other]", said Tom [some adverb or another]. Some few years ago there was a craze for "Tom Swifties", jokes in which, typically, a phrase or sentence was followed by "said Tom _______", where the blank represents an adverb or adverbial phrase that makes the sentence into a joke.
Here are a few "classic" ones:
And here are a few made up by me:
Sam Long, Springfield, Illinois
From: Yan Christensen (Briar9 btinternet.com)
Graham Greene's literary style was quite sparse and he clearly liked that in others. He wrote in memory of his friend Evelyn Waugh:
"There is almost a complete absence of the beastly adverb -- far more damaging to a writer than an adjective."
Yan Christensen, Berkhamsted, UK
From: Carolanne Reynolds (gg wordsmith.org)
AWAD's copy editor rushes to the defence of adverbs qua adverbs. Blame for some writers' misuse of them has illogically been attributed to the poor innocent adverb which is but a tool.
Carolanne Reynolds, West Vancouver, BC, Canada
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
In last week's AWADmail, I was describing the trials and tribulations of another equally amazing Olympian, namely the great all-round athlete Jim Thorpe... and not Jesse Owens. Doh! As most sports aficionados know, Jesse Owens was African-American, not Native-American, and from Alabama, not Oklahoma. (Just a few disparate points.)
Ironically, the gist of my 'message' holds for both of these outstanding minority athletes, in that they each had to deal with blatant racism, and discrimination, and the internal struggles of mind and emotion that that kind of societal maltreatment can often engender.
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California
From: Irving N. Webster-Berlin (awadreviewsongs gmail.com)
Here are this week's AWAD Review Songs (words and recordings) for your listening and viewing pleasure.
Irving N. Webster-Berlin, Sacramento, California
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY: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 re-invigoration if it is not to become arid and sterile. Elizabeth Drew, author, critic (1887-1965)