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AWADmail Issue 649

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

Sponsor's Message: This is a heads-up for all you game lovers out there, especially this week's Email of the Week winner Jerry Lightfoot (see below) -- we're doing some double dealing over here: One Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Word Game. is on sale 2 for $25; and ONEUPMANSHIP -- The Machiavellian Board Game -- is 2 for $75, TODAY ONLY. Hurry'up!

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

There is No Language Instinct

10 Twitter Accounts That Will Make You Smarter

From: Peter Gross (plgrossmd gmail.com)
Subject: cordate

Cordate, as biology students should know, has two homonyms, one perfect, the other less so. Chordate refers to any animal with a backbone (humans, though debatably not all, included) and caudate referring to any animal with a tail or tail-like appendage or to a nucleus within the brain.

Peter Gross, Falls Church, Virginia

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

The hallowed history of controversies between Church and State concerning the question of religious versus secular supremacy is replete with agreements, known as concordats, between the parties in question. The Lateran Treaty of 1929 between Mussolini and the Pope, for instance, led to the creation of the autonomous Papal State of the Vatican. In an earlier example, Napoleon made an agreement with the Pope, restoring Catholicism as the official religion of France, without however returning church property confiscated during the Revolution. At his coronation in 1805, refusing the imperial crown from the hands of the pope, he placed it on his own head, leaving no doubt as to who had the superior power.

One of the more linguistically delectable agreements was that of the Concordat of Worms of 1121 that led to the Diet of Wurzburg the following year. In medieval history, this is often regarded as the germ of the doctrine of national sovereignty.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Bob Bayn (bob.bayn usu.edu)
Subject: Thanks for your pledge to be an organ donor

I signed my donor card long ago, noting the exception that I was not offering my kidneys. I inherited Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). Eventually those kidneys failed me and I received a new one from an unrelated living donor.

It turns out that most people on the organ transplant waiting list need a kidney; and most of us have two but only need one. My donor missed 4 days of work and completed a 200 mile bike ride 9 months later. She continues to do just fine, and I'm doing great, too.

I'm grateful to her every day and we both recommend living donation as a way to help others.

Bob Bayn, Cache Valley, Utah

From: Michael A. Strem (stremm gmail.com)
Subject: Organ donor

I was an organ donor until I started working with our med school at University of Nevada, Reno. I've now donated my body to the school to use in their studies.

Michael A. Strem, Reno, Nevada

From: Mervyn E. Bennun (mebennun icon.co.za)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cordate

And also a blood donor. I'm a deeply grateful recipient of many transfusions.

My own illness and the medication I now have to take daily have rendered me permanently unsuitable as a donor. I was just two short of one hundred units -- dammit!

But I carry an organ donor's card nonetheless, in hope.

I recall a slogan used some years ago about being a kidney donor -- "When they're no more use to you, don't burn them or bury them -- give them away!"

Mervyn E. Bennun, Cape Town, South Africa

Email of the Week (ONEUPMANSHIP -- It's an already done (double) deal!)

From: Jerry Lightfoot (jjfoot tx.rr.com)
Subject: donor . . .

I was moved by the story of the Romanian school teacher.
I have friends who are recipients. A gift saved a life.

I've enjoyed a full plate of yesterdays.
I'm having today, a la carte.
I'm exploring one of several ways,
To order that other(?)part.

I seem to have run out,
Of a serving of tomorrow.
In lieu of my doing without,
Have you a cup, I may borrow?

sign your donor card...

Jerry Lightfoot, Dallas, Texas

From: Jon Vegard Lunde (jonvlunde lillehammer.online.no)
Subject: amanuensis

In Norway, an amanuensis is an assistant university professor, a higher Scientific position.

Jon Vegard Lunde, Lillehammer, Norway

From: Kimberly Orsborn (info gracefarm.net)
Subject: amanuensis

Thank you for this lovely word. I was an amanuensis once, although I called myself a freelance secretary. One client was the great British writer Wolf Mankowitz, living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We worked in his large study; he would pace, look out the window, sit down, get up, pace some more, dictating his stories (with gestures and voices for each character). I took it all down in shorthand, transcribed it on an Apple IIe, then we proofread it together on the screen. He didn't make many changes but would sometimes exclaim, "I didn't say that!" I didn't argue because, as a writer myself, I've been known to unconsciously edit other people's work (oops). The result of this enjoyable work is his last novel Exquisite Cadaver, amanuensised, polished by the author, published in 1990. I cherish my autographed copy. It was a fascinating experience.

Kimberly Zabrocki, Carlton, Minnesota

From: Susan Wall (s.wall earthlink.net)
Subject: amanuensis

Today's entry for "amanuensis" reminded me of John Milton, who wrote most of his great works, including Paradise Lost, while he was totally blind, dictating them to various amanuenses. An incredible feat!

Susan Wall, Boston, Massachusetts

From: Sue Cuttriss (suecuttriss gmail.com)
Subject: impedimenta

Traveling with a baby should be the definition of impedimenta!

Sue Cuttriss, Fillmore, California

From: Susanne Mattern (susanne-mattern t-online.de)
Subject: impedimenta

In the Asterix series, 'Impedimenta' is the name of chief Vitalstatistix's wife. The name says it all...

Susanne Mattern, Frankfurt, Germany

From: Rick Condee (prcondee charter.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--impedimenta

British diplomatic staff sometimes referred to their wives as "impedimenta" when faced with a transfer. John LeCarré used it in one of his Smiley novels.

Rick Condee, North Brookfield, Massachusetts

From: Nalini Sankaranarayanan (nalsanka cisco.com)
Subject: RE: A.Word.A.Day--impedimenta

You will hear this comment from many Harry Potter fans... Impedimenta was the jinx that froze the attacker for a few minutes. You can also see it here.

Nalini Sankaranarayanan, Bangalore, India

From: Serge Astieres (serge.astieres gmail.com)
Subject: Spleen

In French, spleen is a poetic word for melancholy. There is Bordeaux wine called Chateau Chasse-spleen, literally "Chateau go-away melancholy". And it does live up to its name. Cheers!

Serge Astieres, Pringy, France

From: Alain Azzam (alain tektonik.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--spleen

Spleen cannot be defined by mentioning that it has a French origin without a reference to its wonderful meaning in the French culture. The Baudelarian spleen, and others, are the quintessence of profound sentiments of discouragement, isolation, anguish, and existential boredom. It's poetic, literary, and evokes authors, dreamers, creators, and sensible personas who have understood something utterly disturbing about life without being able to grasp or express it entirely in this reality.

Alain Azzam, Montreal, Canada

From: Robert Payne (dziga68 sbcglobal.net)
Subject: spleen

Spleen et Idéal usually translated as Spleen and Ideal, is the first of six sections of Charles Baudelaire's book of poetry Les Fleurs du mal (1857). Associating something like "bad temper" with French poetry, where the form was seen by the cultural guardians at the time to be above such earth-bound matters, was part of Baudelaire's radical transformation of his era's poetic conventions.

Robert Payne, Los Angeles, California

From: Gary Muldoon (gmuldoon muldoongetz.com)
Subject: mansuetude

Mansuetude and desuetude (discontinuance from use or exercise) both have the same root, suescere, to become accustomed. The word desuetude is sometimes used in law as a rule of construction, that is, how a statute should be interpreted: "A statute is not repealed by nonuse or desuetude." (Scalia and Garner, Reading Law, p. 336)

Gary Muldoon, Fairport, New York

From: Gordon Thomas (gordonthomas earthlink.net)
Subject: With ongoing thanks, Anu

I've written my thanks before, and once was selected the weekly winner for my reflections on the word "cowabunga" for which I received touching notes from readers around the globe.

I once again am moved to send you a note of gratitude for the story about the schoolteacher from Romania yesterday, a fascinating glimpse into an ordinary (yet extraordinary) life of the "common" man.

I have subscribed to AWAD for years now and read every daily missive. Out of the thousands of options available, yours is the only "daily" to which I am committed and welcome to my inbox.

Thank you for the great pleasure and delight you offer me and countless others, day in and day out. I'll be sending an annual gift of support this holiday season, and as always, encourage others to subscribe and do likewise.

Gordon Thomas, Vancouver, Canada

Our expression and our words never coincide, which is why the animals don't understand us. -Malcolm De Chazal, writer and painter (1902-1981)

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