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AWADmail Issue 658

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

Sponsor’s message: Calling all Capitalists: We’re offering the captains of industry, coupon clippers, and closet monopolists out there, as well as this week’s Email of the Week winner, Anthony Hall (see below), a cheapskate’s dream 20% discount on ONEUPMANSHIP—the new, cutthroat-fun board game classic. Just use the exclusive AWAD coupon code “thirtypercent”. Ha. Ends at midnight tonight.

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

New York Accent On Its Way Out, Linguists Say
National Public Radio

When Irish was Still the Greatest Little Language in the World
The Irish Times

Chimps Develop Ability To Learn New Sounds, Alter Calls and ‘Words’
Tech Times

From: Alastair McKean (mckeana mso.com.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--nimrod

Edward Elgar’s orchestral work Enigma Variations is a set of musical depictions of ‘my friends pictured within’. The ninth variation is called ‘Nimrod’, and was named after Elgar’s publisher, August Jaeger. This is because ‘Jäger’ is German for ‘hunter’—and Elgar loved terrible puns.

Alastair McKean, Orchestra Librarian, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Australia

From: PJ Coldren (pjcoldren tm.net)
Subject: Nimrods

There is a high school in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan whose teams are The Nimrods. Watersmeet, Michigan is the home of the Nimrods—based, one suspects after looking at the images, on the hunting meaning of the word.

PJ Coldren, Saint Helen, Michigan

From: Scott Eichel (seichel407 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--nimrod

There is found in South Eastern Turkey, near the small town of Kahta, a mountain named Mt. Nimrod or Nemrut Dag (or Dagi) . Atop this mountain there are many statues in various stages of disrepair, originally put there by a little known (supposedly megalomaniac) ruler in the 1st century BC. It is an off-the-beaten track destination best viewed at sunset on the western side of the peak or, even better, at sunrise on the eastern face where the sun rises over the Euphrates river.

Scott Eichel, Victoria, Canada

From: Joel Mabus (joel.mabus pobox.com)
Subject: The Nimrod has three faces

Nimrod is an interesting word. It can mean a mighty hunter, mighty ruler, or mighty stupid.

As this week started with an observation on the upcoming US presidential election, I can’t help but note that any candidate at some point has to be photographed dressed in hunting garb, shooting a rifle. I suppose that’s to assuage the National Rifle Association and to curry favor with American sportsmen in general.

So in American politics: in order to become a nimrod, one must pose as a nimrod, so as not to be dismissed as a nimrod.

Joel Mabus, Kalamazoo, Michigan

From: Steve Kirkpatrick, DDS (stevekirkp comcast.net)
Subject: flawed beauty

Along the lines of this week’s theme of words from the Bible, you might receive a Biblical flood of comments about Navajo rugs, due to Monday’s quotation “The absence of flaw in beauty is itself a flaw.”

Navajo weavers deliberately incorporate one flaw into each rug, with the idea that only God (or the Great Spirit) is perfect, not humans. I learned this fact about Navajo rugs at the first reservation where I worked. The pharmacist’s wife was Navajo, and they were weaving a traditional rug in their living room, complete with the vertically-oriented loom.

Steve Kirkpatrick, DDS, Olympia, Washington

From: M Henri Day (mhenriday gmail.com)
Subject: Re: via dolorosa

Another via dolorosa is that which goes over Il Ponte dei Sospiri in Venice.

M Henri Day, Stockholm, Sweden

From: Jim Cosgrove (jcosgrove.law verizon.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--scapegoat

Related in a way to scapegoats were sin eaters.

Jim Cosgrove, Worcester, Massachusetts

From: Ryan Magee (magee857 gmail.com)
Subject: Scapegoat

Thanks for including scapegoat in this week’s words—I hope my AP Lit students already feel comfortable with the term! Ursula Le Guin’s psychomyth The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas is my favorite way to teach about this idea; 40 years after its publication, the story still resonates with students and I still wonder if I could truly live up to the title’s billing (or perhaps create a less perfect but infinitely better world by doing more than just exiting the sea-side city). Modern parallels abound, too, as we live in our gilded world that shields us from the squalor of hunger, neglect, and despair rampant across the globe (and within the US as well). Those marginalized children lacking a voice and hope should discomfit the privileged living in ivory towers everywhere. Just a great story to teach!

Ryan Magee, Albuquerque, New Mexico

From: Leon Moss (leon.moss gmail.com)
Subject: gethsemane

There is still a small garden in Jerusalem with a plaque on the front gate “Garden of Gethsemane”. The garden is full of ancient olive trees and the locals tell you that they are the “originals”.

Leon Moss, Tel Aviv, Israel

Email of the Week (Courtesy (has nothing to do with) ONEUPMANSHIP—Playing mind games is wicked fun!)

From: Anthony Hall (anthony.hall usdoj.gov)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--samaritan

For me, the most compelling part of the story of the good Samaritan is that he is doing it for someone not of his own people, but seen by many as an enemy. Would that all of us could do the same.

PS: Thank you for today’s quotation—so well put, and nice to hear from a lawyer (it boosted my professional self-esteem).

Anthony Hall, Boise, Idaho

From: Ken Kirste (kkkirste sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Samaritan

‘Samaritan’ reminded me of the final episode of my favorite TV sitcom Seinfeld. The four main characters are arrested when they witness a crime but take no action to intervene. This violates a Massachusetts “duty to rescue” law which essentially forces people to be good Samaritans. I can imagine the glee the sitcom’s writers felt when they hit on such a wonderfully ironic conclusion to a show known for having nothing happen by having the stars jailed for failing to take action.

Ken Kirste, Sunnyvale, California

From: Lindsay Staniforth (lindsaymas talktalk.net)
Subject: Samaritans

Here in the UK the most common use of the word ‘Samaritans’ may be to name the 24 hour a day, 365 days a year telephone suicide and despair service. They (we) also answer SMS texts and emails, and receive them from around the world. Go on, give them (us) this free publicity ... you could save lives.

Lindsay Staniforth, Wells, UK

From: Hillary Rettig (hillary hillaryrettig.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--samaritan

It’s noteworthy that the people who failed to help were “important” (a priest and ruler) and presumably busy, while the Samaritans were the hippies of their day, and so the Good Samaritan no doubt had lots of time on his hands with which to help a stranger. Darley and Batson’s renowned “Good Samaritan” social psychology experiment replicated the conditions of the parable for the modern world, and found that the key element determining whether people were willing to stop and help a stranger was whether they were rushed. In other words, values and morals and ethics go by the wayside when we’re rushed. I believe that that is a crucial insight for our busy world.

Hillary Rettig, Boston, Massachusetts

From: Alexander Nix (revajnix yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: Religion

It has always stuck me as a great irony that in the US, which claims to pride itself on not having a state religion, that God’s alleged political preference should play such an important role in elections whereas in the UK, which has the Church of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Church in Wales as the nominal state religion, any politician that is suspected of being overtly religious is viewed with suspicion. After all, anyone who believes they have God on their side might feel able to justify all sorts of inhumane things like wars against non believers for example.

This brings me on nicely to Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s most aggressive spin doctor, who responded with the infamous line ‘We don’t do God’ when Blair was questioned about his faith. Blair subsequently converted to Catholicism when he left political office.

Alexander Nix, Cambridge, UK

From: M Henri Day (mhenriday gmail.com)
Subject: God

God seems to have encountered difficulties when required to choose sides in human events even prior to the 2012 US presidential election, as the British poet and historian John Collings Squire noted with respect to WW I:

God heard the embattled nations sing and shout
Gott strafe England and God save the King!
God this, God that, and God the other thing --
Good God! said God, I’ve got my work cut out!

M Henri Day, Stockholm, Sweden

From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: Words of the week in limericks

First, paean to a current amusing rivalry:

This poet and one other wrestle
Each week in AWAD’s Sunday vessel
Who writes ‘em superior?
My wife says, “Don’t fear, you’re
No mortar, dear, you are the pestle!”

Now the words of the week:

One day in the feared Twilight Zone
Mr. Serling and I were alone
I moaned, “It’s so dim, Rod,”
He answered “You nimrod,
It’s only TV being shown.”

When he’d hit a home run, Sammy Sosa
Would trot around with a mimosa
But into his drink
He’d drop pills with a wink
And he now walks the Via Dol’rosa

In Wellfleet the loss of the Cape vote
Resulted from one little taped quote
The candidate’s odd
Dislike of fresh cod
Turned him quickly right into a scapegoat

A Chinatown kitchen’s Gethsemane,
If thou art a plump sea anemone
The chef will be praised
For your tentacles braised
In a sauce that’s a little bit lemony

On the beach you should be a Samaritan
Tell everyone, please, keep on parrotin’,
“Your skin, don’t defile it,
With rays ultraviolet,
Or soon your heirs might be inheritin’.”

Steve Benko, New York, New York

From: Joan Perrin (perrinjoan aol.com)
Subject: Words from the Bible

This week’s theme, Words from the Bible,
Is a topic few can rival.
You just have to look,
Inside the “Good Book”,
Now with limericks I do trifle.

A hunter I know named Jim Todd,
Was thought to be quite a NIMROD.
When he went to hunt prey,
They would all run away,
And no, it did not strike him odd.

The cruise did not amuse, no sir,
Between weather so bad,
And sea sickness they had,
Left the ship feeling moroser.

The Dreyfus Affair gossip spread,
And poor Alfred’s honor was shred.
He was made the SCAPEGOAT,
Till Emile Zola wrote,
J’accuse which all the French read.

In winter you hear me complain,
All of this snow is a real pain.
I do so hate the cold,
Polar Vortex, I scold.
It is my own GETHSEMANE

I knew a young fellow named Stan,
Called himself a SAMARITAN.
He’d help those in distress,
Only those in a dress,
Such as Jan, Fran, Nan, and Diane.

Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York

For every language that becomes extinct, an image of man disappears. -Octavio Paz, poet, diplomat, Nobel laureate (1914-1998)

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