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AWADmail Issue 656A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
Who said you can’t buy the American Dream? And for a song? We’re offering our motorcycle-loving subscribers, and this week’s Email of the Week winner, Richard H. Davis (see below), first dibs on Indian Summer, a terrific seat-of-the-pants documentary we filmed 20 years ago that’s just been released as a digitally-remastered DVD. Save 10% with the exclusive AWAD coupon code “nocowboys”.
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Is Bilingualism Really an Advantage?
A Reader Calls Out the Columnist on His Sloppy Use of ‘Deaf’ and ‘Blind’ to Mean Negative Behavior
What We Lose When Languages Die and How We Can Save Them?
State of the Union: Presidential Pronouns
Merriam-Webster: The Definition of a Dictionary
From: Timothy Westergren (timwestergrenspain gmail.com) (via website comments)
While Apelle’s advice to the shoemaker did not spawn a compound word in Spanish, the idea did migrate as a saying (refrán): Zapatero, ¡a tus zapatos! (Shoemaker, stick to your shoes!)
While the wonderful myriad of axioms in Castilian Spanish is falling into disuse, this one experienced a resurgence during the government of Prime Minister José Rodriguez Zapatero (2004-2011). Those critical of his policies or his pontifications on issues outside his expertise (law) would cite this saying, “Zapatero, ¡a tus zapatos!”
Timothy Westergren, Madrid, Spain
From: Alain Gottcheiner (agot ulb.ac.be)
The anecdote about Apelles is very educational, and there is no reason to doubt its authenticity, and the word is splendid, but I feel we miss something : the original words.
Alain Gottcheiner, Brussels, Belgium
The original Greek, unfortunately is lost to history. The words are in Latin because the story was told by the Roman writer Pliny the Elder. We’ve amended the entry to clarify this now. Also see the next message.
From: Richard H. Davis (rdavis hotchkiss.org)
I thought I’d expand on your note about ultracrepidarian, though you probably know it very well. I thought it strange that the Greek Apelles would respond to a cobbler in Latin, so I went searching for the story. Pliny the Elder records the story (writing in Latin, of course) in his Natural History XXXV, 85. Pliny records the statement indirectly (ne supra crepidam sutor iudicaret). The original spoken in Latin would have been something like “Let a cobbler not judge beyond the sandal” (ne supra crepidam sutor iudicet). In Greek, something like: μὴ κρίνῃ ὁ σκυτεὺς ἔξω τοῦ ὑποδήματος.
Richard H. Davis, Lakeville, Connecticut
From: Marvant Duhon (mduhon bluemarble.net)
Although I am being ultracrepidarian, perhaps the origin of this word lies in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. The good shoemaker is central to the explanation that each craftsman depends on providing desired goods to other craftsmen, so that all get enough of what they need. And more to the point, Aristotle mentions that a shoemaker who is master of his craft may mistakenly think he has something useful to say about how the state is governed. He should drop such ultracrepidarian pretensions and leave governing to those trained in Aristotle’s philosophy.
The story of the Greek painter Apelles (4th Century BCE, who painted a portrait of Aristotle’s pupil Alexander the Great) is by Pliny the Elder, and is in support of Pliny’s position that natural creatures should be depicted with scientific accuracy not diminished by artistic flourishes.
Marvant Duhon, Bloomington, Indiana
From: Michael McGettigan (mcget aol.com)
In the bicycle business, a customer is sometimes accompanied by a friend or spouse who keeps declaring opinions about bikes (often dubious or just counterfactual). We refer to them as shmexperts.
Michael McGettigan, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
From: Peirce Hammond (Peirceiii yahoo.com)
Those of us who are liberally educated view expressing opinions beyond our areas of expertise either as our right and duty or as an oxymoron. The more so if we attended one of those small liberal arts colleges in New England.
Peirce Hammond, Bethesda, Maryland
From: Uli Dernbach-Steffl (Udernbach conet.de)
In Germany we also use the name of Baron Muenchausen who has told many fantastic stories e.g. how he has dragged himself and his horse out of a swamp by pulling on his own bunch of hair and clutching the horse between his thighs. He must have been the archetype of a mythomane. Thanks for your inspiring words every day! [Also the source of the eponym Munchausen syndrome]
Uli Dernbach-Steffl, Bonn, Germany
From: Dennis Major (dmajordude msn.com) (via website comments)
What instantly came to mind was the (initially) hoax book which made it to the New York Times Best Sellers List: I, Libertine Jean Shepherd was the instigator for this ruse in the mid-fifties.
Dennis Major, Colorado Springs, Colorado
From: Sonja Langsjoen (sonjalang frontiernet.net) (via website comments)
I first knew it from The Music Man. I cannot hear ‘libertine’ without finishing it as ‘Libertine Men and Scarlet Women’, when the Music Man tried to equate the new pool hall with evil. Here you go, from ‘You Got Trouble’:
“One fine night, they leave the pool hall,
Sonja Langsjoen, Apple Valley, Minnesota
From: Perry Kurtz (pkurtz twcny.rr.com)
The homunculus is familiar to those learning the anatomy of the brain’s cerebral cortex and mapping which portions are responsible for sensory and motor signals associated with body parts. The sensory homunculus is particularly bizarre because it has huge hands and fingers as well as very large mouth and lips, reflecting the rich nerve supply to these body parts and their exquisite sensitivity. Thanks for the stimulating posts!
Perry Kurtz, Chazy, New York
From: Joan Perrin (perrinjoan aol.com)
If you want to be more adult,
Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York
From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
A young lass intended on marryin’
Steve Benko, New York, New York
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:You live a new life for every new language you speak. -Czech proverb
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