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AWADmail Issue 669

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

Sponsor’s Message:
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From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
SUbject: Interesting stories from the net

11 Proverbs for the Digital Age
The Guardian

What If Printed Books Went by Ebook Rules?
The Web of Language

Why Does Africa Have So Many Languages?
Christian Science Monitor

From: Jeffrey W Percival (via online comments)
Subject: stolid

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The belief in the possibility of a short decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions. -Robert Lynd, writer (20 Apr 1879-1949)

Short wars: I’m listening to Mike Duncan’s great “Revolutions” podcast, currently about the French Revolution. When the Austrians went to war with France in April 1792, their command decided not to buy new horses, as the expected war would be so brief that they would not be needed. The war, he points out, lasted a generation.

Jeffrey W Percival, Wisconsin

Email of the Week (Brought to you by ONEUPMANSHIP -- All of life’s lessons in a big, black box.)

From: Mark Parry (parryma umkc.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ascetic

Ascotic: Wearing one’s scarf really tight
Copascetic: Avoiding the Copacobana
Bascetic hound: A dog that doesn’t eat all his food at once
Cascettic: Refusing to upgrade to a CD player
Videocascettic: Refusing to upgrade to a DVD player
Amasscetic: Avoiding any contact with Donald Trump

Mark Parry, Kansas City, Missouri

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

In German musical notations (which are different from English, French, or Italian) dur or hard is the equivalent of the major scales and intervals, moll or soft of the minor ones. See also the English words endure (to last, as against hardship) and mollify (to soften). The former scale is generally associated with cerebration, while the latter is considered applicable to the realm of emotions. Like all generalizations, this too is fairly wide of the mark.

For instance, Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony #41 is in the key of C major, the preceding #40 is in G minor. They were composed in almost the same time period, in July and August 1788.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Steven Stine (scstine1672 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lissom

The quantities mentioned in your first usage example for “lissom” today will confound many Americans. As a lifelong numerophile, I am delighted to clarify.

Sutcliffe says that Adam drinks “28 litres of fizzy drinks a week”. That works out to 7.4 gallons per week or 1.06 gallons per day, which is almost 17 cans.

I do not know why the British measure human weight in stone (always singular), which is 14 pounds. Therefore, Sutcliffe is being ironic when he calls Jorjie “comparatively lissom” at 13 stone, because that is 182 pounds. At 19 stone, Adam is a substantial 266 pounds.

Steven Stine, Highland Park, Illinois

From: Joan Perrin (perrinjoan aol.com)
Subject: Words to describe people

This week’s theme, words that describe people, would make a great personal ad: Intractable, lissom dancer wishes to meet kindred spirit. Ascetic, stolid, and dour men need not apply.

Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Limericks

He silently lay in the bed.
“It’s just that he’s stolid,” she said.
What the girl didn’t know
is written below:
He was not only stolid, but dead.

-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A Scottish lass may be ascetic
Ach aye, but a swain is magnetic
A fine bonnie guy’ll
Get her down the aisle
That night’ll be sumthin’ frenetic.

-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From Heathcliff and Holmes on the moor
To Rochester famously dour
The Brits are hypnotic
So dark and exotic
Just look at Christiane Amanpour.

-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

In Angus a farmer adaptable
Had one problem he found intractable
Increasing his herd
Was a notion absurd
For amid cows aplenty he lacked a bull.

-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I’ll never be called lissom,
To think that I could is dumb.
Born with two left feet,
I have no conceit,
Since I can’t walk and chew gum.

-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“A stolid ascetic of Seattle
Was dour and not prone to prattle.
Thought intractable
And terribly dull,
A lissom young wench won the battle!”

-Gerry Visel, Illinois (gcvisel gmail.com)

From: Charlie Rettiger (crettiger hotmail.com)
Subject: Double usage this week

I like the way you have included a second word of the week in the example sentence for each day’s word. It helps to reinforce the word when you read it twice in one week. If you’ve done this before, I have not paid attention. Anyway, keep up the good work. Your daily email is the ONLY daily email I have continued for more than a few months, and I feel like I’ve been getting it for well over ten years now -- I am not sure, as I can’t remember when I didn’t get it. Thanks for enriching my vocabulary every day!

Charlie Rettiger, Madison, Georgia

Thanks for your note. You have been with us for 14 years.
-Anu Garg

Language is the armoury of the human mind; and at once contains the trophies of its past, and the weapons of its future conquests. -Samuel Taylor Coleridge, poet, critic, and philosopher (1772-1834)

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