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AWADmail Issue 653

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

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

What the World Will Speak in 2115
The Wall Street Journal

Language: When Bigger Isn’t Better
The Economist

Ancient Amulet Discovered with A Curious Palindrome

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: 2014: The year in review

In 2014, we featured 263 words beginning with all letters of the alphabet except the letter U (sorry U, it wasn’t on purpose).

Longest word featured, 20 letters: (many)

Shortest word featured, 2 letters: pi

New subscribers in 2014: 67,000

The longest address on the list (251 characters) remains:
Another---VeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVery VeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVery VeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVery VeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryVeryLongAddress AT abacurial.com
Tom Trottier, Ottawa, Canada

The shortest address on the list (7 characters) remains:
z AT sz.af
Zmarak Zhouand, Kabul, Afghanistan

Average address length: 21 characters

Number of domains on the list: 47,772

Number of countries/territories on the list: 178

Number of top-level domains on the list: 199

Top-level domains that left in 2014:
.ac (Ascension Island)
.gm (Gambia)
.sy (Syria)

Top-level domains that joined in 2014:
.am (Armenia)
.ao (Angola)
.nyc (New York City)
.pw (Palau)
.sh (Saint Helena)
.vu (Vanuatu)

Top five universities based on the number of subscribers:
count domain
355 umich.edu
210 harvard.edu
208 cornell.edu
194 mit.edu
194 columbia.edu

Top five corporations based on the number of subscribers:
241 tcs.com
176 infosys.com
209 ibm.com
150 hp.com
144 boeing.com

Top five webmail providers based on the number of subscribers:
118903 gmail.com
41221 yahoo.com
27541 hotmail.com
20256 aol.com
3482 msn.com

Top five ISPs based on the number of subscribers:
8511 comcast.net
3489 sbcglobal.net
3146 verizon.net
2122 earthlink.net
2062 cox.net

Top five organizations based on the number of subscribers:
100 ieee.org
79 acm.org
77 hcstonline.org
60 kp.org
53 partners.org

Thank you all for being here! You are what makes Wordsmith.org.

From: MaryCatherine McCoy (mc_mccoy hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--prebuttal

Reminds me of the “premumble”. That’s what the ad agencies call their introductions to their ad campaigns when presenting them to clients.

Usage: “Please keep an open mind while we present these new commercials. The demographics for our target buyer indicates they like x, y, and z.”

Reason: The agency knows the client who is making the decision is usually very different from the target buyer (and may not like or even know who or what x, y, and z are). Plus, the client is interested in increased sales. While the agency is frequently interested in garnering creative awards and building a resume.

MaryCatherine McCoy, Tampa, Florida

Email of the Week (Brought to you by One Up!)

From: Mariejoy San Buenaventura (mariejoyasb gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--prebuttal

The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border. -Pablo Casals, cellist, conductor, and composer (1876-1973)

The quotation from Pablo Casals resonated with me and probably with the millions of individuals who did not grow up in and who are living outside of the country of their birth. Being a child of expatriates and now being an expatriate in my own right, the question “Where are you from?” really makes me uncomfortable, but to avoid sounding haughty (What do you mean by that question, the country in which I was born, grew up, or live now?) and to avoid making the questioner roll his eyes, I simply name the country of my birth.

It is very possible to gain a sense of self not from nationality or country of birth, but from one’s values, intellectual interests, artistic passions, and most cherished friends. It is very possible to love locations in different countries -- a historic town, a stretch of beach, a mountainside -- and feel that one can find a home anywhere in the world.

Mariejoy San Buenaventura, Salaya, Thailand

From: Dan Bloom (danbloom gmail.com)
Subject: Captcha

I once received a Captcha in Hebrew! I was on Facebook, typing away to a friend, but before I could send my message, the machine asked for me to fill in the Captcha and type in two words. The words are usually English words, in fact, they have always been English words. But this time, they asked me to type in one word in English and another in Hebrew.

A professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania told me when I asked him for help in solving this thing: “This Captcha gaffe, or glitch, is very interesting. They must have thought that you were in Israel rather than Taiwan.”

A friend in Washington, DC noted with Jewish humor: “Facebook or the Captcha people must have ways of remotely x-raying you to see if you’ve been circumcised. That’s it.”

I wrote to the Captcha people after locating their offices somewhere at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and I received this nice note:

“You got a reCaptcha. The Hebrew word must have been from some text that OCR (Optical Character Recognition) was having trouble reading. Anyone could have got it. It’s just a coincidence that you could read Hebrew (and that the word translates to “book”). Our Captchas do not yet make use of their uncanny ability to tell what languages its clients (like you) know.”

Dan Bloom, Chiayi City, Taiwan

From: C.L. Shockley (fabrisse hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--captcha

I worked for National Braille Press for awhile and have many friends who are blind or visually impaired. Captcha prevents them from interacting in many situations. They can’t see the spot to get audio, and they can’t read the screen (because it’s a picture, their assistive technology doesn’t read it). We need to find a better solution to the problem of spam comments, rather than a discriminatory system.

C.L. Shockley, Washington, DC

From: Diane-Marie Campbell (via website comments)
Subject: crowdsource

Like many others, I became aware that the OED was crowdsourced by reading Simon Winchester’s wonderful The Surgeon of Crowthorne. Another favourite and relatively early example is Ganong’s Review of Medical Physiology now in its 24th edition, which is one of the most widely read texts on this subject. Ganong once offered, after lecturing medical students, 25¢ for each error they could find in his book. It was said he was mobbed after the lecture and nearly went broke paying them off but Ganong has kept its position as the standard, and not merely the standard textbook, for undergraduate medical physiology.

Diane-Marie Campbell, Adelaide, Australia

From: Dave Erickson (daveeee sbcglobal.net) (via website comments)
Subject: Google

I googled “yahoo” -- it ticked off both of them!

Dave Erickson, San Jose, California

From: Creede Lambard (creede gmail.com)
Subject: Google

Many years ago I started testing Internet responsiveness by connecting to google.com because it was big, fast, always up, and they didn’t seem to mind being “pinged”. At first I was puzzled because I would receive responses from something called “1e100.net”; however, I soon realized that “1e100” is scientific notation for a googol.

Creede Lambard, Shoreline, Washington

From: Tom Koehler (tvkoehler mediacombb.net)
Subject: Google

Let us Americans not forget Barney Google, a popular cartoon comic strip character from about 1919 to the present, more or less. That fabled youngster of the 1930s, who provided the name for the Very Large Number got his inspiration from the Sunday funnies.

Tom Koehler, Two Harbors, Minnesota

From: Ian Page (ianpage pathcom.com)
Subject: googly

I think you will find that cricket balls break when they bounce, not in mid-air. And while most spin right from a right-handed bowler, a googly is released from the back (pinky-side) of the hand, and so surprisingly bounces left.

Ian Page, Canada

From: Richard Stallman (rms gnu.org)
Subject: Anthropocene

The term “Anthropocene” is a bad idea, because people may take it as a medal for humanity’s influencing even the world’s geology! I suggest the alternative names Thermocene or Pyrocene to describe what humans are doing to the Earth, or Obscene to describe the results.

Dr Richard Stallman, President, Free Software Foundation, Boston, Massachusetts

From: De Gebert (perutz wanadoo.fr)
Subject: Congratulations!

I have never met with such an enlightening and intelligent daily email. I am an passionate linguist who was taught Old English by brilliant professors at the Sorbonne in Paris when I was a greenhorn, I mean, an uneducated student. Thanks to them, I can still read The Winchester Chronicle, Wulfstan, Beowulf (of course!), texts by Alfred or Aelfric, even texts in Mercian and Northumbrian. To say nothing of being able to decipher ‘easy’ Runic texts.

I am grateful to those brilliant professors for making Grimm’s or Verner’s law crystal clear... Thank you very much for reminding us of our Indo-European linguistic roots and culture. No! Sanskrit is not a dead language owing to those professors... and your own wonderful didactic learning.

De Gebert, Chartres, France

Men ever had, and ever will have leave, / To coin new words well suited to the age, / Words are like leaves, some wither every year, / And every year a younger race succeeds. -Horace, poet and satirist (65-8 BCE)

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