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AWADmail Issue 654

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

Sponsor’s message: Are you serious about bridging the “Word Gap”? We are. Which is why this week’s Email of the Week winner, James Hutchinson (see below) -- as well as all AWADers near and far -- can now make their own terrific fun word education party for a song. Introducing our best-selling One Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Word Game as a FREE pdf. Y’up, absolutely gratis.

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Read A.Word.A.Day on your calendar

Now you can add A.Word.A.Day on your calendar. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Other ways to read A.Word.A.Day: Email | Web | Twitter | RSS feed | On your own website

From: James Curry (CurryinNM aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bildungsroman

The opportunities to use this cumbersome word appear limited. It is a great example of why English is the most voluminous language, because it easily assimilates words from other languages -- but wherever I could use this word, I would prefer to call it a “coming-of-age” tale or something simpler. Additional examples I could classify in this style include R.D. Blackmore’s Lorna Doone, J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, and Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones.

Would you use a different word for non-fiction “premature autobiographies” written by young successes who are full of themselves, and tales, fictional or not, of young men and women who die in their prime without leaving a story of their later years?

James Curry, Albuquerque, New Mexico

From: Jeff Goodman (goodmanjm appstate.edu) (via website comments)
Subject: bildungsroman

This word was one I heard often growing up, and my brother and I painted it in DayGlo on the wall of our basement. Our mother was a literature professor and wrote frequently about the male-female double Bildungsroman (e.g. Jean Stafford’s The Mountain Lion and Willa Cather’s My Antonia). Actually, we painted “2x Bildungsroman”, as well as “endocrine” to honor our endocrinologist father.

Jeff Goodman, Celo, North Carolina

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

Actually, rather than dull it, Molière seems to delectate the kitten in the picture you used to illustrate “longueur”.

Claudine Voelcker, Munich, Germany

From: Mathieu Joly (jolymat gmail.com) (via website comments)
Subject: longueur

Regarding the picture: Everyone is a critic, even kittens? ;-) To anyone wondering, the text that appears to make the kitten yawn is in French, from Molière’s Dom Juan, Act I, Scene 2. The cat’s paw is on the beginning of the “Tirade de l’inconstance” (Fickleness Tirade?), where Dom Juan bares his scoundrel’s soul.

At 443 words, that passage might be thought of as displaying some longueur? Indeed, Sganarelle (Dom Juan’s valet) then replies:
“Vertu de ma vie, comme vous débitez! Il semble que vous ayez appris cela par coeur, et vous parlez tout comme un livre.” Sorry, won’t attempt to translate this, but the valet does seem to think that his ‘boss’ has overdone it in justifying his fickleness in love.

Mathieu Joly, Ottawa, Canada

From: Larry Delano Coleman (lcole81937 aol.com)
Subject: longueur

The longueur is a remnant of the era, when writers were paid by the word by their publishers. James Fenimore Cooper’s Deerslayer comes to mind, as does Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi.

Rev. Dr. Larry Delano Coleman, Raytown, Missouri

From: Katie Matsui (katgirl822 gmail.com)
Subject: longueur

This is quite a wonderful word to describe a good number of passages in the long, but very verbose Lord of the Rings. Thank you, J.R.R. Tolkien!

Katie Matsui, Lexington, South Carolina

From: Erica Turner (turner.1002 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--longueur

Longueur: Ayn Rand’s 57-page radio monologue in Atlas Shrugged! How many readers of this novel skipped a few pages? Who read the book and believed the conceit that every listener in the novel who tuned in to the radio broadcast was “unable to tear themselves away”, and so listened to all three hours?

Erica Turner, West Chester, Pennsylvania

From: James Curry (CurryinNM aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--longueur

Probably the worst offender was Laurence Sterne, who digressed frequently from his main topic to tell us irrelevant material. In his most famous work, Tristram Shandy, he stops the progress of the work to tell us about Uncle Toby’s accurately miniaturized forts, and in chapter four goes off on “The Tale of Slawkenbergius”, which he cheerfully tells us is a self-contained different tale that we can skip if we like. In more modern work, Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant is a long piece in which he tells about hauling trash from Alice’s residence in an old church, but manages to also tell us about his experiences in applying for military service.

James Curry, Albuquerque, New Mexico

From: Robin Fanslow (rfanslow gmail.com) (via website comments)
Subject: longueur

I think the modern equivalent would be tl;dr.

Robin Fanslow, Arlington, Virginia

From: Douglas R. Skopp (skoppdr charter.net) (via website comments)
Subject: Peripeteia

“Peripeteia” is a wonderful word, with its implications of “irony” and “anticipation” as the outcome of a story. I use it as a plot twist in my novel about Nazi medical practices, focusing on a well-meaning physician who chooses to be a Nazi doctor and then must live with his choice. Shadows Walking is based on extensive archival research; everything in my story either did or could have happened, exactly as I told it. Thank you for your daily reminders of our rich and vast linguistic legacy. With every good wish to you and to your world-wide readers,

Douglas R. Skopp, Distinguished University Teaching Professor of History emeritus at State University of New York at Plattsburgh

Email of the Week (Courtesy One Up! -- Big words in a can.)

From: James Hutchinson (james hutch.org.uk)
Subject: This week’s words

All of this week’s words could apply to Charles Dickens and his works: he was undoubtedly a litterateur, although George Orwell found longueurs in his books; he was known for writing bildungsromans such as Great Expectations, which describes Pip’s peripeteia, as well historical novels such as A Tale of Two Cities which begins with the locus classicus “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

James Hutchinson, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

From: Joan Perrin (perrinjoan aol.com)
Subject: Words relating to books

I do like the words based on books,
They’re words one often overlooks.
I put them in rhyme,
To have a good time.
And hope to cheer up your outlooks.

Dickens’s David Copperfield,
Is a novel that has revealed,
How Dave is put upon,
His story to many appealed.

If you do want sleep to occur,
Try reading a bit of LONGUEUR.
For example, War and Peace,
Your insomnia will cease,
And you will soon drift off, yes sir.

Austen liked PERIPETEIA,
Jane’s books found a panacea,
With her heroines wed,
Happy endings ahead,
All part of her “Dolce Vita”.

When the scholars want to discuss,
They just look to the whale,
Call me Ishmael.”
The meaning then is clear to us.

I so adore reading Mark Twain,
His writing is great, I explain.
The one I prefer,
His greatest fan, I do remain.

Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York

To reason with poorly chosen words is like using a pair of scales with inaccurate weights. -André Maurois, author (1885-1967)

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