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AWADmail Issue 674A 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)
From: Mary Miller Boy (mary all-the-boys.de)
The Germans also use the word Politesse, which means “meter maid”, the woman who writes tickets for illegal parking or expired parking meters. They can be courteous when they slap the ticket on your car, but I have experienced some who are not.
Mary Miller Boy, Falkensee, Germany
From: Mary Damon (marymd21 gmail.com)
Please do not say that French waiters are snooty. If you greet your waiter with “Bonjour” before you start ordering, you will find a very friendly and polite waiter. The French always greet one another before asking questions or making statements. Try it!
Mary Damon, Princeton, Illinois
Thanks for writing. You’re right -- stereotypes are not very helpful. We’ve removed the remark from the website now.
From: Dave Shelles (writesdave gmail.com)
In the song Sympathy for the Devil, Rolling Stones’ lead singer Mick Jagger croons “Use all of your well-learned politesse / Or I will lay your soul to waste.” As the song is sung from the standpoint of the devil, I doubt politesse will save one from damnation -- if you believe that sort of thing.
Dave Shelles, Cheyenne, Wyoming
From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
The term is said to have originated from the debate between the mercantilist and the physiocratic schools in the French Age of Enlightenment. The latter, inspired by the writings of Quesnay and Turgot, argued against the protectionist principles that was the raison d’etre of Colbertism, named after the finance minister of Louis XIV. Mercantilism had been intended to bring maximum wealth to the Sun King’s absolutist regime by exploiting its colonies, e.g. New France, the forerunner of Quebec. The new economic theorists challenged this counter-productive practice.
The idea of laissez-faire, however, is nowadays mostly associated with the Scottish philosopher Adam Smith’s visionary work, The Wealth of Nations, whose spirit and intention are conveniently misinterpreted by today’s “superhuman” practitioners of the fine art of rapacity.
Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada
From: Marvin Russell (russasm aol.com)
Subject: de rigueur
During the carnival season in New Orleans, personal invitations are sent for the various bals masques as they present their courts and tableau. For those deemed the old line or debutante (white gown) balls, invitations invariably remind one and all of Costume de Rigueur. The required dress is a floor-length gown for the ladies and white tie with tails for the gentlemen. Those who lack etiquette and fail to adhere to the customary fashion are denied admission for their faux pas.
Marvin Russell, New Orleans, Louisiana
From: John Richardson (rubrick.illumus gmail.com)
I was really pleased to read today that the example for usage of this word (and for de rigueur earlier this week) comes from my favourite newspaper, The Irish Times, published daily in my home city of Dublin. I’ve been reading it regularly for more than 30 years since I was a teenager and one of the many reasons I, and many others besides me, enjoy it so much is for its rich use of vocabulary and wordplay. Your examples show that it is not just the journalists and reporters who enrich their reportage with such words but also the sports writers and reviewers. Indeed, some of the regular sports writers are eagerly followed for their imaginative and amusing use of high-brow words to describe events from the previous day or weekend. The Irish Times is the newspaper where Flann O’Brien first rose to fame writing his (in)famous column which continues to inspire the current contributors who follow in his style. I often find myself reaching for the dictionary to search for an explanation of a new word I am impressed to first read in that newspaper and I am indebted to them for instilling in me a love of words and well-rounded prose. I look forward to seeing more quotations from their pages (as I have done over the past few years) in your daily emails and thank you for including them so often.
John Richardson, Bremen, Germany
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
“Ooh,” cooed the mogul’s maîtresse
-Laurence McGilvery, La Jolla, California (laurence mcgilvery.com)
In business we think laissez-faire
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
If practice is thought de rigueur
-Bob Thompson, New Plymouth, New Zealand (bobtee xtra.co.nz)
In rating this new restaurant,
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)
When kids go to college they say,
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)
From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
A couple wanted their daughter to be courteous so they named her Paula Tess.
When asked how his team would do without him the coach replied, “Laissez-faire”.
“Surrey, Curly, but de rigueur wanting was needed by someone else.”
“Soi-disant Margaret go by ‘Peggy’?” asked her niece.
“You want me to undress you? How laissez aller are you, anyway?”
Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:In words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker. -Plutarch, biographer and philosopher (circa 46-120)